We all have weird personal connections to certain words that cause us to hate them. I’m not talking about squirming when you hear “moist,” but about opinions that date from childhood, like my dislike for “hemlock.” Even before I knew the word’s definition, hemlock sounded like some fatal coughing disease from the 1600s, or a foreboding local swamp in which Timmy Flanagan drowned.
I wasn’t terribly off: Hemlock is a poisonous plant, notorious for being brewed into tea that was used to execute Socrates. It’s also the name of a shitty horror show on Netflix, the first (and last) heavy-metal band I saw live, and a popular weed strain in Colorado. As a result, my relationship with “hemlock” has gone from blocked to online lurking through dispensary menus.