Parallel Evolution

Bandersnatch Cummerbund. It’s an odd combination of words, two words you wouldn’t expect to see together, EVER. Now imagine asking two people, separated by time and distance, to come up with two (mostly) nonsense words and you might get them to come up with those two words together…but to calculate such a remote probability, you would first have to interrupt your reading of the sequel to Romeo & Juliet as written by a million chimpanzees on a million typewriters.

Yet, that pretty much happened to me this week. Now the term “Bandersnatch Cummerbund” isn’t exactly random; I came up with it months ago as a way to tease my daughters about their mutual crush on the British actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, star of the BBC TV show Sherlock (and next year’s Star Trek sequel, as well as the voice of the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit). It’s the kind of silly joke I like to tease my kids with (they call it “Dad Humor” when they’re being kind), much like referring to “the Facebook” or “teh interwebz” (and no, that’s not a typo, I mean ‘teh’). A little self-deprecating, a little goofball-y…guess that’s just how I was raised (I’m looking at you, Dad!).

Bandersnatch? REALLY? I think you should just call me “Mister Cummerbund”

So imagine my surprise when I was reading the paper yesterday and discovered that Bandersnatch Cummerbund was a thing! And it was going viral! Seems the Washington Post used it in their piece about Sherlock’s Season Two premiere on PBS. The funny name reference was picked up by the Huffington Post and many, many other blog/news sites. The Post writer stated that it wasn’t her idea, some unknown person had used it weeks ago in one of her online chats about pop culture…and she’d just been waiting for the chance to use that little gem.

I had to stop and think: how original was I? Was it possible that I was copying someone else? But I couldn’t think of any conceivable way I might have seen some pop culture reference in the Washington Post, of all things. So could they be copying me, somehow? The only time I could remember using it on ‘teh interwebs’ was the night before, when I’d used in a Facebook post about that win, just to twit my daughters. This reporter had referenced her own page recording the chat reference back in March…so that couldn’t be it.

So I thought about how I’d come up with it…and realized there was actually a method that I’d used. All i did was switch the back halves of his name to get “Bene-batch Cumber-dict,” sort of. From there, its a pretty short leap to “Bandersnatch Cummerbund” when you start thinking of puns. And if there’s a method, well, then, someone else can replicate that method and end up with the same result (sometimes, we call that ‘science’…the science of bad jokes, in this case).

So that unknown person had probably just done the same thing as I did, switched some syllables and thought about the closest puns. Simple when you deconstruct it, really. Still…it’s a bit of a shock to see what you thought of as a pretty specific family in-joke become part of the Internet blogosphere. Or even the Tumblrverse. 😉

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