A crushing conundrum that has haunted humanity for centuries is that there is but one word that has no rhyme in the English language.

What is it?

Knock knock. Who’s there? Banana…

Actor Will Geer (met him in college), playing Grandpa Walton defined the word with no rhyme as the essence of that which had changed his life by lifting him from deep poverty.


Alas, is it utterly and endlessly true that the awkward word orange has no rhyme whatsoever?

Knock knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who?

Well fasten your seatbelt and get ready for the linguistic shock of your life! For I have long known the rhyme for orange, and I must therefore face the ultimate challenge. Yes, it is now time for me to let the cat out of the bag!

As it turns out, I was/am a friend of the genius (met him in college) who wondrously discovered the rhyme for the one word that has no rhyme. It is Jim Svejda (SHVAY-duh), though he at odd times mindlessly deferred the origin of this rhyme to his strangely ethereal mentor, Randolph “Randy” Flube.

Jim wrote poems while I wrote plays. There have been moments when he taught me how to listen. He seemed to know so much about the history of classical music. I remember one day when he played recordings of the four operas in Wagner’s Ring cycle (Der Ring des Nibelungen) from morning till night. Only by listening to all the themes in each of these operas, said he, would I feel and understand the climax of the final scene in Götterdämmerung when everything came together in the ultimately powerful sound of music.

No surprise, Jim Svejda has for many years been a disc jockey on KUSC, the premier classical music radio station at the University of Southern California on the other side of the planet. For my amusement, he recently sent me a CD of his interview with old comedian Stan Freberg on New Year’s Eve, 2004. I was curious to learn how he might form interview questions for a celebrity I myself had all but forgotten. But it wasn’t about Jim. He just tickled Stan Freberg and his wife to tell their stories and laugh at themselves and Lawrence Welk and Harry Belafonte.

The fact is he hides his genius in modesty. Well too bad, pal. I once heard you verbalize the solution to the most confounding puzzle in our entire English vocabulary! So now at last I am going to squeal and reveal your secret I have been hiding for so many years: The perfect rhyme for the unrhymable “orange.”

Door hinge.

Get it? Door hinge! Say it! Door hinge! Hear me out! Door hinge rhymes with orange!

Knock knock. Who’s there? Banana…

But I shared door hinge with another friend, John Scott (met him in junior high school, later a fellow singer in our rock ’n’ roll band, Billy Toad and the Post-Nasal Drips), though he seemed neither amazed nor amused.

From his e-mail: “BTW, I think ‘floor binge’ works almost as well as ‘door hinge,’ except for an extra little consonantic interference in the middle of it. (Once that rhyme gate is thrown open, you never know what the heck is going to come skating through it!)”

Floor binge? No, that’s deplorable. Binge, okay, but why floor binge?! What’s a floor binge? It doesn’t mean anything! Door hinge is a thing!

But as fellow Drip John indicated nonetheless, the door was/is open.

Without further hesitation or justification, I dove into the muddy waters. What rhymes with orange? What about dwarf twinge? How about (Al) Gore fringe? Snore tinge?

Then finally I found it. Use the word binge, and refer to the recent scandal involving Secret Service agents in Colombia, who paid trysts with women who were engaged in (professional) prostitution, before an Obama visit. What did they do?

That’s my problem here. Because, although this phrase defines the misconduct of these agents of our government in a foreign land, it is literally (so to speak) unspeakable.

So what did our Secret Service guys do in secret? Yup, they went on a [synonym for woman-of-ill-repute] binge!

That sort of gave me a sordid sore cringe, as feminists will rightly disdain this moniker as “lewdicrous.”

But there may be practical usage of my rhyme with orange. We can’t refer to any of these Secret Service operatives nor their predicament with the term Agent Orange, the “defoliant” applied during the Vietnam War. Instead, use the rhyme to identify the effort to unveil the motives of those disturbed agents. That’s right, Operation [ill-reputed person] Binge!

Since the word [synonym for women-of-ill-repute] is unutterable, here is where a substitute term that also rhymes with orange might be useful to describe the aftermath of the so-called Secret Service scandal. So did you hear about Operation Door Hinge to investigate the situation down in Columbia?

In Southern slang Middle English, perhaps I am the harbinger of things to come.

Knock knock. Who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Orange ya glad I didn’t say banana? (as told to me by another college pal, Gilda Radner, in the Spring of 1968).