The meaning of “Peter Lynn”

06Aug07

Ice cream, potato chips, and chip dip were on special at the grocery store this weekend. Let it not be said that I’m not a fiscally responsible shopper. Feeling a little bloated after gorging myself for two straight days, I changed my Facebook status to “Peter is a real Peter Lynn.” Within minutes, my friend Scott sent me a message: “Did you get really fat again?” he asked.

I wasn’t surprised that he picked up on this immediately. Near the end of university, I gradually put on a little weight. Instead of pointing this out to me as good friends might do, though, Scott and Mike simply turned “Peter Lynn” into their new slang word for a fat guy. When I finally realized how big I’d gotten, I demanded to know why they hadn’t told me I’d gotten so fat. “We did,” they said. “We told you you were getting to be a real Peter Lynn.” As if I was supposed to know what that meant.

I know what it means now, obviously. And earlier that day, Scott’s wife Marlene sent me a message telling me that “Peter Lynn” now means something else too. It’s what Scott calls their infant daughter when she sneezes and farts or sneezes and poops at the same time. For the first couple of years that I knew Scott, he was convinced I never farted at all. But that was before I developed allergies in my early twenties. Many times in the years since, I’ve provoked giggles of merriment from Scott by simultaneously sneezing and involuntarily breaking wind.

When Scott mentioned this, I told him I already knew about the increasing number of negative meanings for my name. He reassured me that the only other meaning that “Peter Lynn” had was for my former university housemate Julia. “She used it to mean ‘gay’,” he said.

This took me aback. The entire time Julia lived with us, I had a girlfriend. In fact, I had a jealous girlfriend who hated Julia for being a girl living in my house. And surely Julia must have noticed the very heterosexual way my eyes bugged out that one time when she flashed her breasts at me to shock me. (Maybe the jealous girlfriend was on to something.) She couldn’t possibly think I was gay, could she? “I don’t think she really thought it but she did say that a lot,” Scott said. “She definitely thought you had gay mannerisms.”

“Damn it!” I said. “I knew I should have boned Julia!” But that was probably pretty much out of my hands anyway, what with my being fat and my sneezing and farting all the time.



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