"Have you ever wondered why they call it a credit card number?"
"Why do they call it a credit card number?"
"Err...because it's a number on a credit card?"
"Yes, but it's the number that matters, doesn't it? The number's what you need to make the transaction. Just think about phone orders. Or stuff you buy over the Internet."
"True, but it's still the number associated with your card."
"Is it? Isn't it, in fact, the other way around? Isn't it the card that's the artifact - merely a convenient way of carrying the number around, in fact? Can you imagine a card without a number?"
"I guess. But so, what's your point?"
"Just that if it's the number that matters then saying 'credit card number', and therefore suggesting that the card is somehow crucial, makes no sense."
"So what do you think it should be called? Just credit number?"
"But what would you call the card then?"
"A card with your credit number. A credit number card."
"Hmm...a bit awkward that."
"Not at all. It's just habit that makes it seem so. Besides, you wouldn't have to say the whole thing. The seller would say 'May I have your credit number, please?' and you'd reply 'Yes, here it is, on my card.' Nobody but random uncle-jis says 'credit card' anyway - everyone else just says 'card'. The whole thing is perfectly simple."
"I suppose so. So what brought on this new insight?"
"Oh, nothing really. Just, you know."
"You've been shopping again, haven't you?"
"Well yes, but that has nothing..."
"How much did you spend?"
"Not much. Nothing at all really. It's just that there was this sale, see, and..."
Meanwhile, it's another long weekend (it's Fall Break, and unlike certain other PhD students, I am taking time off) and I'm off to make yet another attempt to see these Fall Colors everyone keeps talking about (details of my last attempt to catch Fall Foliage here). Back Wednesday. Meanwhile, you can amuse yourself by checking out a new poem by the inimitable Matthea Harvey (who has a new book out!) on Poetry Daily. Enjoy.