phase

Since Maury became the spokesperson for the Bee Spokes tailoring outfit, he has been almost unrecognizable. It’s not that he never paid attention to his appearance before; it’s just that he formerly kept his own counsel, which was not always the same counsel others would give. But the transformation from rumply bowtied bookish Don Juanna-be to dapper man-about-town has been so striking that it’s hard not to wonder if it’s just a phase he’s going through.

Now, Maury is generally more prone to going through phrases than phases, but he has certainly gone through something of a phase shift – or, more to the point, many women (and some so-inclined men) have gone through a phase shift in his regard, from frozen to liquid… and sometimes heading towards steamy. Maury has always been out of phase with the fashion of the times, but somehow instead of being a half-cycle behind and cancelling out, he is now ahead slightly, which produces some interesting results.

Take, for instance, his effect on Margot, the ever-prickly. Normally the presence of nearly any potential object of attraction leaves her quite unfazed. (By the way, fazed comes from feeze, a Germanic word meaning ‘disturb’, and is not related to phase.) And she has never been affected much one way or the other by Maury. But when he swanned into the room and she saw his transformation for the first time, she was left speechless – as Jess put it, “I think it’s aphasia going through.” Daryl added drily, “She looks like he set his phaser to stun.”

We could say that in one archaic sense he is no longer in Phase: Phase is a now-unused word for Passover (taken from a Latin adaptation of Hebrew pesah), and Maury used to be regularly passed over, but not so much now. Which is a bit of an irony for him, since just as all these objects of attraction are taken with him, he is himself taken – he has a steady love interest, he assures us, and he is not available. I’m sure he’ll introduce us to his new warm fuzzy sometime.

So Maury the schlemiel has become Maury who bespeaks the pompetus of love (though he stops short of becoming Maurice). I trust you can understand, then, that any momentary discomfiture on his part might give rise to a brief bit of schadenfreude on our part. I thus relate with some enjoyment the recent proof that this must be a phase for Maury.

Allow me first to explain that phase comes via French phase via Latin phasis from Greek ϕάσις phasis, which referred to an aspect of the moon, as we still refer to phases of the moon. That is the basis for all other uses of phase, which refer to cyclic things (allowing the idea that the states of matter – solid, liquid, gas, plasma – are cyclic).

So, now, picture Maury wearing a spiffy suit and riding a cycle – I mean a bicycle, on the one day recently when it was even close to zero Celsius. He pulls up and hops off his bike and bends over to chain it up. And that is when I see it: he has a rip in the seat of his pants – the seam has pulled apart.

Thus revealing the full moon.

A phase indeed.

Thanks to Hal Davis for suggesting phase.

One response to “phase

  1. Greek ϕάσις phasis has also been borrowed into Hebrew as vav-samekh-sof at a time when the vav had a PH/F-sound. Today it is pronounced VeSeT and means (monthly) menstruation. The connection with phase of the moon is obvious.
    The “full moon” mentioned in today’s blog begs the question: Why is the impudent display of buttocks called “mooning”? The answer is: the Hebrew words for moon (yod-resh-het) and buttock (yod-resh-khaf) are near homophones.
    Finally, the moon is made of green cheese because the Hebrew pat phrase for “gibbous moon” YaRei’akH GaVNooni sounds like YaRoK + G’ViNa = green + cheese.

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