Beauty 101: When Your Lipstick Gets Hairy, Toss It

By June 25, 2010 language No Comments

A few weeks ago, I went with my mom and my sister and her three kids on our quick trip to Wisconsin to visit our grandmothers. As in previous years, we had lots of time to chat and play car games while on the road (it takes about four hours to get to one grandmother’s home, another 45 minutes to get to the other, then about four-and-a-half hours to get home—yes, we are road warriors).

The atmosphere can get rather punchy with so much time in close quarters with six people. Three kids produce a fair amount of chatter and laughter, which is enjoyable for the most part. My niece, who is 6, likes to be part of all conversations. She regularly chimes into conversations by agreeing with and repeating the last thing someone else has said.

So at some point during this road trip adventure, my sister and I are chatting about hieroglyphics (who knows why, as neither of us are archeologists, nor have we recently viewed an exhibit about Egypt at a museum). My niece—Miss HM, as we refer to her—decides she must join the conversation. She agrees and repeats, as usual, but instead of using this word hieroglyphics that she has never heard before, she substitutes it with what she knows . . . and loudly proclaims, with giggles, something about hairy lipstick. We, of course, giggled too.

This is a perfect mondegreen example. Mondegreens are created when you mishear a word or phrase and your brain assigns other more familiar words in their place. This is a common occurrence with song lyrics. You can see how my niece got hairy liptstick from hieroglyphics. This qualifies as the best mondegreen I’ve heard in 2010.

And when it comes to mondegreens, my niece is a natural. During last year’s road trip, she continually referred to the Amish Store as the Omelet Store. Maybe there is something about being in the car for hours on end that messes with how her brain processes information?

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