Excuse me while I google…
Published 10:53 am Thursday, December 15, 2022
Excuse me while I google…
Alright, there is a word for applying human characteristics to animals: anthropomorphic. There is also personification, meaning ‘the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something non-human, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.” Not to be confused with chremamorphism, which ascribes non-human characteristics to a human: “She’s a doormat.”
Still with me? Would you like a drink? Chiclet? I know—this is all making my head sweat too.
Let’s keep going because I’ve still not found the word that described my behavior last night…I find that zoomorphism attributes animal qualities to a person, i.e., “He’s a hard dog to keep on the front porch.”
But where is…wait a minute, wait a minute…ah! So sorry—Turns out I didn’t need to take you on that dog’s leg (zoomorphic?) of a journey as my attribution of feelings towards an inanimate object turned out to come from the heading of our first ‘morphism,’ anthropomorphic, after all.
It happens every yuletide…we get the tree, and it sits in its corner, naked, for a few days because there’s something we really wanted to watch on Netflix, and “we’ll get to it tomorrow night.” A week goes by, needles begin to drop, then either Paul or I say, “We gotta get this thing decorated.” And every year I carry the two cardboard boxes into the front room, deposit them on the couch, and with the speed of the kids on ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas–’ transfer the ornaments from Snoopy’s doghouse to Charlie’s anemic little tree, finishing the job during a commercial break.
It’s after this that I feel the anthropomorphism begin to build in my chest as, every year, there are a couple of really scruffy ornaments that I reject. There’s no sentimental value to them—we weren’t given them by a beloved parent of a kid—in fact, we have no idea where we got them. But they don’t go with the other decorations and they’re a bit too heavy, meaning they’ll fall off any unused branch that’s available.
No problem. Tree’s completed, it looks as charming as ever and still features the angel on top my mother gave me ages ago. Just close that cardboard box and store it back in the closet. Right?
Except I can’t. The anthropomorphism is now swelling behind my eyes and I actually feel sorry for these two ornaments: These two, cheap, made-in-China-weird-little-rat angels (or are they bats??) ornaments. I mean, they wait all year, buried at the bottom of the others, hoping this year they’ll be cherished and respected and…
I need a drink. Or a session with a psychologist.
Yep, you guessed it…I have succumbed to anthropomorphism. I mutter as I reopen the box and pull them out, threading a green hook through each and hanging them on the back of the tree where they won’t be seen. Then I actually say to the other ornaments, “I know they’re not as beautiful as the rest of you guys, but..” And it doesn’t end there—I then fill an empty wine bottle (oddly, we have a dozen to choose from) with water and say to it, “You’ll do—just please don’t dribble on the tree skirt” as I get down on my hands and knees to pour the contents into the tree stand.
I’m anthropomorphizing all over the place!
“What are you doing?” asks Paul, coming in with the mail.
“Making small talk with a bottle and a few ornaments,” I reply without hesitation.
Paul scanned the mail in his hand and never looked up.
“So a pretty normal afternoon for you,” he said.
I think that was an example of dispositional attribution, but I’ll need to google…