Illustration: Rocco Fazzari
THERE is a certain sound that may be familiar to you. It heralds an unhappy liaison between an individual and their oesophageal tract.
In my father's day, they called it a morning oyster. Not so long ago it went by the name of a Peter Stringfellow. Most recently one would hear it referred to as a hoick. However, this terminology fails to capture the truly visceral sensation of nausea that washes over oneself on hearing a sharp intake of phlegm and its triumphant expectoration. These monikers unjustly glamorise what is, quite frankly, a stomach churner.
Having witnessed a number of public hoicking incidents of late, I felt compelled to coin a new term to encapsulate the full, gory spectrum of this mucus merrymaking. And so was born the Snoffit. I expect David Astle and the Macquarie Dictionary people will be on the phone soon after reading about this natty little term that captures so much with so little effort.
Previous phrases have not taken into account the full gamut of this odious pastime. Morning oyster addresses the result, yet neglects the method of delivery. Stringfellow pays homage to the viscosity while ignoring its auditory possibilities. Hoick salutes the trajectory but turns a blind eye to the aftermath.
Snoffit embraces the manoeuvre in its entirety. It has three tiny, but meaty components. 'Sn' is for sniff - phase one of the movement. Phase two is 'off' for cough (I know, it's not completely kosher for the grammar pedants, but work with me). Then to finish we have 'it' for vomit - the finale.
The Snoffit can happen anywhere, any time. I am more than happy to curl my lip at any passer-by who dares deliver a Snoffit within general earshot. This behaviour calls for a scornful glance and a possible furrow of the brow in an attempt to call the blighter to task. However, much to my disappointment, one cannot truly expect the offender to bag and bin his human detritus (as a recalcitrant poodle and its owner might).
So, to all you Snoffiteers out there, I acknowledge your right to employ the Snoffit, as long as you keep it strictly for personal use only. Do not engage in it before women, small children or the elderly. Do not ply it on public transport, in shopping malls or in places of worship. And do not exercise it at my house. Here ends the party broadcast from the Ministry of Social Hygiene.