I was tooling around on the internet some time back and was surprised to learn that there’s a word for misheard words and phrases — mondegreen. (I’m sure many of you knew about it way before I did and you’re expecting me to ask about Y2K next.) It’s a good word to keep in the back pocket because I mishear things quite a bit. Usually it’s because I’m in my own world and someone starts into a sentence right away. It takes me a brief moment to come back from the Weird Zone, so I mishear the first few words they say. For example, someone may tell me, “So-And-So texted me the other night”. To which I reply, “Did you say ‘Brussel sprouts are sexy on a winter’s night’?” I enjoy it. It can certainly steer conversations down some fun side roads.
I was reminded of mondegreens this morning as I listened to one of my favorite old school 80s songs during my morning commute. It came to one part of the song and I remembered what I initially thought the lyrics said. Of course, the actual lyrics are quite different. Here’s the line from “Human Touch” by Rick Springfield:
The actual lyrics: “I sit so snug and isolated alone in the modern world.”
What I initially heard: “I’ve seen some f**kin’, isolated alone in a modern world.”
Naturally the real lyrics fit the song’s description of a person feeling isolated yet acknowledging their need for meaningful human contact. My version fits better with a person who was working at McDonald’s, accidentally walked in on Grimace and Mayor McCheese going at it in the walk-in cooler, freaked the hell out and locked themselves in their apartment.
Come to think of it, that second version might make for an interesting song.