Sunday, June 29, 2008

A person of interest...by Sybil Adelman Sage

When I was dating, being referred to as "a person of interest" was a compliment, used to describe a potential romantic partner considered worth seeing again. In our New Jersey high school, that was most likely to mean a guy with a car capable of carrying a ball across a field.

In college "a person of interest" was school and person specific, depending on each of our particular tastes and quirks. In my case, the phrase was all too often attached to someone likely to reject me, a big draw for those who'd had uninvolved fathers (if therapists can be trusted to account for such things).

When did the phrase come to mean someone authorities suspect of a crime, who's not yet being named as a suspect? And how do single people refer to what used to be "a person of interest"? Or does that explain why "hooking up" came to mean something different than it did to us?