Proust and his Madeleine
In "Remembrance of Things Past" Proust describes involuntary memories he experienced by the sight and taste of a madeleine (small tea cake) which he used to share with his Aunt. Since then, the word madeleine has been used to referring to a thing that evokes an involuntary memory, such as: "That wicker stroller is a madeleine to me. It reminds me of the year I had rheumatic fever and my mother wouldn't let me walk by myself."
Yale and his Square Cup
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I use the term Square Cup as a shorthand reference to a very special incident from my past which people close to me understand. But it's time to tell the whole story.

Long before I heard of Proust and his madeleine, I invented an equivalent term. It's a square cup. It refers a square-shaped, blue melmac coffee cup that I first saw in Carolyn Chaskin's house. Years later Maxwell House ran a commercial showing coffee in a square cup symbolizing that the generic brand coffee had a sharp edge. In the commercial the square cup changed into a rounded shape when Maxwell House coffe was poured into it. That was my first encounter with a square cup moment. Afterward I used the phrase "square cup" to describe anything that brought back a vivid memory.

And one such square cup is THE LOOK.

Copyright Yale Schwartz, 2018

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