Google agrees: Definite case of lethonomia in this head

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 1, 2019

It’s a new day. The sun is shining; the birds are singing. I’m starting my morning — making up the bed, putting on my clothes. All the while, my brain is happily clicking away. It’s like Chatty Cathy up in there.

There’s just random stuff going on, thoughts running around in circles chasing each other. How come my pillow gets flat in the middle and my husband’s doesn’t? Is my head heavier than his is? Does that mean my brain is smarter? What makes one brain smarter? Is it the weight?

See what I mean — Chatty Cathy.

I’m not paying much attention to what my head is saying. Just letting it talk while I fluff up those pillows. Every now and then, I reel it in when it starts down a path I don’t want to travel.

As I brush my hair, it starts talking about television shows. No idea why, but why not.

“It’s Tuesday. So what’s on tonight? Not This is Us because it’s on a break. Oh, I like The Village. It’s a Tuesday show.”

Apparently, my brain is stuck on NBC.

“Is The Voice on tonight?”

That is the question that starts the trouble.

“I like the judges on that show.”

I start ticking off the names of the judges, Adam, John, Blake and the woman. In my head, I see her face, but I cannot recall her name.

“Carrie Underwood,” says my brain.

“No,” I say, “it’s not her. I think it sounds like Carrie.”

“Maria Carey,” comes the answer.

“Definitely not Maria Carey,” I say.

Now it’s starting to bug me that I cannot remember this person’s name. I tell my head to search the memory bank and deliver the name.

“Carrie Underwood,” it says again.

“NO, it’s not Carrie Underwood.”

Once my mother told me that moving your eyes side to side quickly would cause a forgotten word to come back. I try it.

“Carrie Underwood.”

“NO. NO. NO.”

Now, it’s driving me crazy. I scroll through the male judges’ names again hoping that will trigger something.

“Carrie Underwood.”


I decide to see what the heck is happening in my head so I do an internet search. “What happens when you forget a word/name?”

I learn it’s a short-term memory glitch commonly called “tip-of-the-tongue.” A more technical term is lethonomia. The definition is the inability to recall the right name — and it’s not Carrie Underwood.

The term derives from the river Lethe in Hades in Greek mythology. Apparently, that river caused oblivion or forgetfulness of the past. Maybe Point A Lake does that for me.

Now I’m on a mission in my head to figure out this woman’s name. Maybe if I hum some of her songs.

“La,la,la, la, la even with my dark side.”

Nope nothing and I dare my brain to say Carrie Underwood again.

Well, that didn’t work so I decide to go in another direction. I do remember that this woman won American Idol. So I’m recalling people from that show.

“Jennifer Hudson. No and she didn’t win.”

“Taylor Hicks. He’s a guy.”

“Daughtry. A guy and that’s the name of his group.”

“Who else do I remember from American Idol? (I really only watched it one season so the contestants from that year are the ones whose names I keep hearing.)

“Somebody named Elliot. Nope, that’s another guy.”

“Kelli Pickler.” She was kinda silly. Wait KELLI. That’s it.”

I’m so happy as my brain recites the name like a little jingle.

“It’s Kelly Clarkson. Yes, it’s Kelly Clarkson. Oh its’ Kelly Clarkson.”

“Brain, thank goodness we are done with that,” I say as I go to the kitchen to make some oatmeal.”

“Yep, it’s Kelly Clarkson,” my brain says happily chattering. “I like her and that other female coach who’s there sometimes.”

I see her face and hear her songs. But WHAT IS HER NAME?

“Carrie Underwood???” whispers my brain.


Sun is shining. Birds are singing and I definitely have lethonomia.

Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.