The station attendant at the Broadway/Lafayette subway stop is the cutest lady ever (totally blowing up her spot!). The whiteboard in her cubicle displays pertinent train information, but I noticed recently that she also writes inspiring messages and aphorisms that make even a tired, black-hearted, cranky commuting jerkface like me smile. Today, in a rainbow of dry-erase marker, she wrote HAVE A WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAY!
“Whimsy” and the other “whim” words are believed to be of Scandinavian origin; according to the OED, the old Norse word hvima meant “to wander with the eyes as with the fugitive look of a frightened or silly person,” which is probably not what the MTA employee meant (though it is actually something I do often in subway stations). The more common use of “whimsy” (defined as “playfully quaint or fanciful behavior or humor”) probably derived from “whim-wham,” which, like other duplicative words (flim-flam, jim-jam, etc.), was associated with frivolity. But wait, there’s more! The Virtual Linguist notes that in Eric Partridge’s A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, “whim” and “whim-wham” were nicknames for “the female pudend” in the 18th century. The “girly” associations of whimsy makes a lot more sense in that context, though “Whim-wham, thank you ma’am” doesn’t pack much of a verbal punch.
These days, though, whimsy is reserved mostly for the fantastical, the nostalgic, or the delightfully quirky– I still don’t know what exactly having a “whimsical Wednesday” entails, but I thought I’d take the subway attendant’s advice. Full disclosure: my personal aesthetic is decidedly un-whimsical (though I do have a well-documented fondness for unicorns), but I figured that I could benefit from a little flight of fancy. While making my daily Etsy rounds, I decided to check out some of the more whimsical wares available for purchase (perhaps unsurprisingly, a search for “whimsical” turns up plenty of results). Here a few that put some sparkle in my Hump Day:
As a child, the only pet I wanted more than a dog was a unicorn, so I pretty much melted into a puddle of “squee” when I saw these custom-made headpieces. BONUS: You can order a human-sized hat to match your dog.
In case your home isn’t lit by a flurry of friendly fireflies, this chandelier should brighten up your castle/cottage/garden apartment. My own decor tends toward the dark side, but I can see myself being enchanted by this as a kid.
Looking for instant whimsy? Put a bird on it! Or better yet, put a bird in it. Milepost7 creates birdhouses out of reclaimed materials, so channel your inner Disney princess (you know you have one, admit it) and bring all the birds to your yard with one of these avian abodes.
If the word “whimsical” conjures up images of tea parties in the forest for you, then you are not alone. If you can’t take time out of your Wednesday workload for a cup of actual tea and are instead relegated to the office water cooler, these itty-bitty earrings are a definite conversation piece.
Debbie Schramer and her husband Mike spent six months creating this exquisitely-detailed five-foot-tall fairy treehouse in 1995, and have since displayed it The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. Now it can be yours…for $75,000.
[TOP IMAGE: Frances and the Fairies, taken by Elsie Wright, July 1917. Via James Randi Educational Foundation.]