It used to be quicker to reinvent something than to be sure it was not already invented. Or so a scientist once said to dramatize the 20th-century growth of technical journals and other information to be combed through.
I have a certain fellow feeling because I invented a word, or rather it swam into view about 4 the other morning. It wasn't in Webster or Oxford or Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.
The Internet makes deniability harder. But with some reluctance I went online to look further.
Smilestones. I had awakened happy with what I dozily thought was a new word for moments to be remembered besides milestones.
When you ask the highway toll taker how to get to Oswego College, and he says, "Study hard," that's a smilestone.
When a neighbor with a snowblower drops over and clears your driveway, that's a smilestone.
Or when the computer does something helpful you didn't know it could do.
Or when the grocer takes one look at the blackening ripe bananas you've deliberately chosen and gives them to you free.
Or when the 3-year-old grandchild sounds like Barbara Stanwyck saying of the little brother you have just rocked to sleep, "You love him, don't you?" That's a smilestone.
And I'm not giving up such smilestones even though the word is on the Internet. As a proper name. As part of a church service - announcements of anniversaries and other joyous events.
But most of the Internet smilestones refer to - dentistry. Oh, those fetching photos of children with tooth-missing grins.
Still, I'm not giving up the patent on my smilestones. And congratulations on your own.