“The way to win a man’s heart is through his pallet.”

Not much needs to be said here.

For a word that sounds like this, a writer has four choices available: palate, the roof of the mouth or the “seat of taste”; palette, the board on which a painter places or mixes paints while working; pallet, a straw mattress or other temporary bed; and pallette, a piece of armor that shields the armpits.

I know my student meant the first, in a fancier phrasing of the cliché “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” (By adding “win,” she also changed the meaning of “way” from “road” to “method,” but that’s neither especially important nor especially interesting, so we’ll not pursue it. ) Well, good for her. Not just a hungry male: she’s talking about a discriminating one. Or she means to be talking about a discriminating one. Maybe, anyway.

If she wasn’t going to choose the correct word, I’m delighted that she didn’t make any references to painting equipment or armpits. I believe men with those particular tastes are relatively rare.

The error she did make was the fortunate, and probably fortuitous, choice. A young woman in her first year of college, she might already have learned a deeper lesson than the cliché teaches, and our friend Freud may have been guiding her typing fingers to express it.

(I should note here that the rest of the essay was neither satirical nor critical, and this writer was not likely to have known the word “pallet.” That the word she wrote was the word she meant is highly unlikely.)

I’m afraid today’s Horror falls into the category of “unintentionally true.” Your profiteroles or Coquilles Mornay will probably not go as far in seducing the average nineteen-year-old male as your roll in the hay.

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About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

One response to ““The way to win a man’s heart is through his pallet.”

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