This will come as absolutely no surprise to those who know me in real life.
I should really make apologies for it, but I won’t. She is too much a part of me to change at this late stage of life. However, I try very hard to keep my dirty little secret under wraps in the interest of maintaining friendships, both online and otherwise. Once you meet her, you will understand why.
She is dark and leather-clad and unforgivingly punctual. She is an expert on all things to do with the English language (or, so she believes). She knows her synonyms from her antonyms, her oxymorons, and when to use the Oxford comma. (She just did, in case you didn’t notice – haha!) She can tell you the difference between a simile and a metaphor, and she is absolutely in love with hyperbole; just make sure you never mispronounce it!
This terrifying creature is a stickler for spelling and punctuation, and equally exacting on pronunciation, though what is considered correct in that latter department varies depending upon which country she is hanging her Pickelhaube in. Currently, she is hanging it in England, and hence color has become colour, theater is now theatre, and so forth. (All such spelling rules are reversed when she visits the States. This apparent flexibility is nothing of the kind: It is merely another manifestation of her inability to flout grammatical rules.)
As you may well have guessed, she is The Grammar Nazi.
This alter ego is not my finest incarnation, I must admit. She is an absolute holy terror, loud, bossy, unbending and remorseless – everything I am most assuredly not. (Ok, maybe I can be a TEENY bit bossy. But only sometimes.) As I said, she is generally kept well out of public view for very good reason. But every now and again, when I am least prepared to deal with her, she goose-steps her way back into my life and starts making corrections, leaving a trail of grammatical corpses (read: former friends) in her wake.
Such was the case last night.
There we were, Hubby and I, settled into our respective evening roosts – he hogging the sofa, me curled up in a leather armchair with tablet in hand, reading posts and comments and revelling in the fact that yesterday was my BEST DAY EVER for views, visitors and likes. (My fellow bloggers know this is kind of a big deal, actually!) In any case, the stage was set for the perfect evening. Our guards were down. Little did we know what awaited us.
“Mr. President, I think it’s time to call up our NUCULAR forces…”
*Grammar Nazi enters, goose-stepping, stage left*
Her jaw was tightened to the point where we were concerned for the safety of a recently repaired crown. “Gaaaaaa!” Grammar Nazi shouted at the TV.
Hubby looked at me like I had sprouted cloven hooves. “What’s wrong?” He was clearly mystified.
“It’s nuclear,” said Grammar Nazi, slowly, angrily.
“Yeah – that’s what he just said.”
“No, he said nucular. NOO-KYOO-LER.
“Yes,” he agreed, still looking puzzled. “He said nuclear!”
“He said it wrong!”
Hubby rolled his eyes and laughed. He finds Grammar Nazi hilarious, though for the life of me, I fail to understand why. “Honey, it sounds exactly the same.”
I could feel my blood pressure rising. How many years had I cringed in embarrassment every time George W. started going on and on about “nucular weapons.” Nucular. In front of world leaders. On national TV. On CNN, for heaven’s sake. The man got elected president of the blooming United States, and couldn’t properly pronounce nuclear. GAAAAAAAAAAA.
Grammar Nazi was having none of it. “Nucular most certainly does NOT sound like nuclear. What is WRONG with people?”
Hubby just shook his head and hit rewind to catch the 3 minutes of dialogue we had, by this point, missed. “It’s no big deal…”
“It IS a big deal!” The Grammar Nazi mounted her proverbial soapbox and began to rattle off, as she is often wont to do, a whole list of grammatical errors that get on her LAST nerve: “It’s NU-KLEE-AR. Nuclear. That’s how it is pronounced. Ask is pronounced ASK, not AX. ‘Same difference’ is an oxymoron. It is a contradiction of terms, and it sounds STUPID.
“Calvary is where Jesus died. Soldiers on horseback are called the Cavalry. NOT THE SAME WORD. Men don’t get PROSTRATE cancer – they get PROSTATE cancer. Pros-TATE. As in the prostate gland, and it’s only got one R. To prostrate oneself is to bow down and lay flat on the ground. TOTALLY DIFFERENT WORD! Why can’t people get it right?”
Hubby was not saying much, but Grammar Nazi was on a roll now. “There, they’re and their are three separate words with three entirely separate meanings. They are NOT interchangeable! Same goes for to, too and two. Am I the only person on this planet who ever attended English class? Oh – and what is with people and possessive pronouns? Don’t even get me STARTED on its and it’s…”
He just lay there on the sofa and stroked the cat calmly while Grammar Nazi gradually ran out of steam. Hubby was utterly unperturbed. My entire grammatical universe was crumbling around me, and yet he was just smiling placidly. “Are you done yet?” he calmly asked.
I growled something fairly derogatory regarding the production team of 24 not catching what was so blatantly obvious, but Grammar Nazi was slowly calming down. Still, she took one more parting shot at Hubby’s head. “I can not believe you don’t hear the difference between nucular and nuclear.”
“Honey, seriously. I could care less about how nuclear is pronounced.”
“It’s ‘ I could NOT care less,'” she snapped, “as in, there are a million things more important to you! I could care less means you actually CARE!“ Grammar Nazi had popped a spring, her anger eroding to the wildly hysterical ramblings of a woman devoid of all sense and reason. Nevertheless, hubby was laughing out loud now. He had the distinctly cheeky look of a naughty boy who had just pushed every single button in the Empire State elevator. My darling husband, the button-pusher, the Wind-Up Merchant, had pushed the Grammar Nazi over the edge, and he appeared to be enjoying her fall. In the end, even Rational Me had to laugh.
I let him rejoice in his victory while I forced Grammar Nazi back to her padded cell. All the while, she was mumbling, “He could care less… he could care less… he could care less…”
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