Last week, while I was in Idaho doing some computer work for a drug/alcohol clinic, the director came by and peered over my shoulder.
"What are you up to?" she inquired.
As it happened, I was doing a bit of Archipelago work at that particular moment, and I showed her a printout of the main screen. She looked at the row of member icons and pointed to Roger's Icon.
"Oh look," she said, "a phrenorton!"
"It's a phrenorton."
"You mean that 'Kilroy was Here' drawing that appeared as graffiti back in the 40's?"
"Yeah. Those are called phrenortons."
"How do you spell that?"
"With a ph, I think..."
I tried to pin her down as to the origin of this strange new word, but she could not add anything further. I consulted my father, who is a walking encyclopedia, and who can answer nine out of ten questions put to him, however strange the questions or the questioner (in fact he even understands Suzanne's wood-putty-in-the-toilet phenomenon), but to no avail. He had never heard of this "phrenorton" word. He said that some people refer to the Kilroy figure as a "Smoo", after the L'il Abner character, but this was by no means standard.
The dictionary is of no help, except to provide the intriguing clue that the root "phren" is Greek for "mind."
So Roger's icon becomes increasingly enigmatic. Have any of you ever heard of a phrenorton? And who is Kilroy, anyway?