Today a neighbor on the bus looked at my outfit and said I looked “lumber-sexual”– like a well-groomed lumberjack. I assumed this is a compliment–a play on the word “metro-sexual.” Anyway, since I was wearing a flannel shirt, jeans, and a full beard, I didn’t think too much of it until I was retelling the story to another med student between lectures.
“A lumbar-sexual?” he asked. It took a few minutes to realize he thought I was talking about the lower spine.
What I learned from this convoluted conversation is that the brain has an uncanny capacity to fill in gaps. It does this visually with optical illusions, but also with hearing as in “lonely Starbucks lovers.” As we become more versed in medical jargon, our minds can’t help but apply all this new vocabulary to inappropriate contexts (e.g. the other day I referred to peanut butter as substrate).
While I’m still not sure what a lumber-sexual is, it’s possible that the answer comes from the great mind of Monty Python: