24 September 2010

on grammar: i'm not josie grossie anymore

Today is National Punctuation Day, and I hope you've planned a party, perhaps one involving a banner that uses all forms of punctuation.

I think the most difficult punctuation mark to use on a banner would be the semi-colon; it's so refined and gentle, a place for a thoughtful pause.  The point of a banner, however, is usually not to encourage you towards a thoughtful pause.

Banners are more:  OMG!  It's National Punctuation Day?!??!  Let the nerdy jokes begin.

Ok, that's not a very catchy banner.  Good thing my job isn't making banners.

My official job title is Editorial Director, which instills fear in people that I'm constantly judging them on their grammar and use of punctuation, making this a very apt day for me to say:  I am not judging you, people.

I'm not laughing at you in my head.

I'm not keeping a list in a secret journal of ridiculous mistakes, all with the hope of publishing it one day so that everyone else can laugh at you.  (10 points to whoever can come up with a pithy title.  Also, I will credit you in the book.  Oh, wait.  I'm not writing that book.  Right.  Forget I just offered you 10 points.)

And most importantly, I'm not going to correct you mid-conversation.  Can you imagine this?

You:  "So me and my sister...."
Me:  "My sister and I..."
You:  "Yeah.  My sister and I was going..."
Me:  "My sister and I were going..."

And on and on with the interruptions.  That story would take hours to tell, and it probably wouldn't be all that interesting if you had to keep starting over, even if it involved incredibly exciting things such as a Sasquatch or whitewater rafting on the Colorado River while being chased by a Sasquatch.

I would be bored by the end of it, and you'd never want to speak to me again:  how is that a good ending to a friendly conversation?

I must confess, though:  I used to correct people on their grammar.  This was in high school, and a lot of things you do in high school fall under the category of "please give me incredible amounts of grace for this."  This applies to dresses worn to Homecoming dances, people you chose to date, and any mixed tape you made at that time.

Then the movie Never Been Kissed came out.  You know, the one where Drew Barrymore plays a geeky reporter who has to go back to high school for a story, and well, she's never been kissed.  Hope I'm not giving away too much there.

The movie goes to great lengths to show how socially awkward and geeky Drew is, and there are multiple scenes where she corrects people's grammar and then does this definition-of-geekdom snort.  Snorting always softens the blow of being corrected in public.

When I saw that movie, it's not that I thought I was looking at my future:  if I continue correcting people's misplaced modifiers, I will end up like Drew's character, Josie {and everyone called her Josie Grossie in high school.  Thank heavens my name doesn't rhyme with anything gross.  At least I don't think it does.  I assume if it did, this would've been discovered in elementary school, when everyone gets horrible nicknames.}.

It's more that I saw how rude you come across when you correct someone on a little tiny thing like using the word "hopefully" incorrectly.  It's not a kind service to humanity; it's showcasing yourself by pointing out someone else's mistake.

So my best friend and I—yes, she corrected people, too, at times {we were a fun pair to be around, obviously}—made this pact: whenever one of us corrected someone {or laughed at them, even if we saved up the laughing for later}, that person would have to say, in her worst Drew Barrymore impression, "But I'm not Josie Grossie anymore!"

That pact actually worked.  It's exactly the kind of nerdy thing that would work for two girls who were a bit too attached to their grammar, usage, and mechanics textbooks.

So.  Happy National Punctuation Day. 

Im not Josie Grossie anymore.


  1. "I am not judging you, people." I love it :)

  2. I loved that movie. I did a lot of things in High School that make me shudder when I think of them now.

    Thanks for the insight. :-)



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