Commentary by Curtis Honeycutt
I wish Rustic Citrus was the name of a band I played in back in college. We would have probably been some kind of folk/funk fusion, with banjo, mandolin and an entire horn section. I would have played cowbell and sung in the chanting sections of select songs. But, alas, I wasn’t in a band in college; “rustic” and “citrus” are simply two different anagrams for my first name.
Word nerds like you probably already know this, but an anagram is a word, phrase or name with the letters rearranged to spell something else, like “debit card” and “bad credit.” And anagrams have a long history.
Anagrams go all the way back to Ancient Greece, first used by either Pythagoras in the sixth century B.C. or by the poet Lycophron in the third century B.C. Plato and his followers claimed to use anagrams to unlock hidden, spiritual meaning in words and phrases. But my favorite example of anagram nerdiness in history took place long after the Greeks geeked out on switching letters around.
In the 17th century, King Louis XIII enjoyed anagrams so much that he hired an official Royal Anagrammatist named Thomas Billon to entertain his court with the clever rearranging of their names in amusing or mystical ways. Billon was the combination of a jester and obsessive word scrambler. For the record, if anyone’s hiring, that sounds like an awesome job for me.
I have some favorite anagrams. For instance, “stifle” is an anagram of “itself.” In Oklahoma (my home state), two cities on the opposite end of the state, “Altus” and “Tulsa,” are anagrams of each other. The brand name Spandex was made by rearranging the letters of “expands.” And, I don’t want to play favorites here, but an anagram for Presbyterians is “best in prayer” (and also “Britney Spears”).
Finally, “eleven plus two” equals “twelve plus one.” Don’t let that blow your mind too much. And—don’t worry—I’m not going to change the name of my column to Anagrammatist Guy, although I am considering the pseudonym Mr. Ray Gugam. Is Curtis Honeycutt “hectic unto yurts?” I’ll let you decide.