The guy is talking about architecture. And, as a docent at the Gamble House in Pasadena, he knows quite a bit about the subject. It’s clear I could learn a great deal from him if only I could maintain focus. But I can’t, because this docent has just used the word “spline” and I am one of those people for whom a bizarre fixation on words paralyzes other areas of my brain to create a sort of subject-specific mental retardation.
So as our docent continues to share fascinating and downright impressive insights about architecture, a voice in my head is saying. “Spline, spline, bobine, bananafanabospline. Where’s the spline? What’s this spline? Whence came this word 'spline' and am I the only one in this tour group who thinks that it just might have too many consonants?”
Fast forward just 22 hours, and I’m at my local hardware mega-retailer buying materials to make a window screen. 3x5 piece of aluminum screen: check. Two 8-foot pieces of cuttable window frame: check. Gray rubber spline: what?
And that’s enough spline-endipity to persuade me to actually look it up.
1. Any of a series of projections on a shaft that fit into slots on a corresponding shaft, enabling both to rotate together.
2. The groove or slot for such a projection.
3. A flexible piece of wood, hard rubber, or metal used in drawing curves.
4. A wooden or metal strip; a slat.
So the good news is I have a new word and a new window screen. The bad news, of course, is that I still don’t know jack about architecture.