March 5, 2021
I Love You The Moist
Are there certain words that make you grimace and feel claustrophobic? Is ‘moist’ one of them? If so, you are in packed company. Studies show that this combination of five letters is reviled, feared, under threat of ‘cancellation’, and even crowned “Least Favorite Word of the Year!” I was blissfully naive to this ‘word aversion’ until a recent episode of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me had me on the floor splitting with laughter. But also pondering:
What’s with moist? The New York Times did a poll (my kind of poll) and found that fellow verbal pariahs in the English language include slacks and crevice. Aha. I think I see where this is going. Moist is too sensual for some people. It seems to be related in the mind to arousal, particularly the feminine kind. (If you are about to faint right now, please drink a moist glass of water). A famous cookbook author went so far to avoid it that she referred to a cake as damp.
This is insane!! A cake should not be damp!
Folks, this is a matter of utmost importance. Moist has a roundness to it; damp is cold. It’s juicy without being boggy (as an aside, how evocative of ‘bog’ is ‘bog’?). Moist has a succulent mouthfeel, and a provocative finish (try it). Damp dampens: it goes downward and ends as excitingly as a pile of mildewy laundry chucked by an irritated partner onto the floor. Are you still with me?
I wager that the puritan forefathers of this country have much to do with our presiding moist-aversion. It brings to mind the song we blasted in high school, “I’m too sexy for your…” Moist is too sexy. Too powerful. Like a pagan goddess it dares us to think about where we came from. And so, this fecund springtime, I dare you: Reclaim Moist. Get over it.