Confessions of a Walking Dictionary

Yes! I hate to say this out loud – or to even type it – but I think we’re all healthy. Or, I should say, on the mend. The boys still have sniffly noses and some coughing, and I am still on antibiotics waiting for the after effects of cellulitis to fully pass, but we’re mobile and able to get out of the house for a few minutes, even if only to go to a meeting.

Our oldest had his annual IEP meeting yesterday. For those of you who don’t deal with special ed daily, that is an Idividual Education Plan that helps outline what he needs to work on for the next year and how we’re all going to do it. This was a big one, as he heads off to middle school next year. I am so not ready for that!

But since all our kids were actually in school yesterday morning, hubby and I both got to attend. That in itself was a miracle. So we talk about Son #1 for an hour and a half and, as we’re walking out of the building, hubby turns to me and says, “Gees, I understood them and what is going on with the boy. But some of the words you said… did they even understand you?”

This is not unusual. The husband loves to tease me about my $50 vocabulary. It is common knowledge that the more I drink, the longer and more complex my sentences get. I am used to popping out with what I think is a perfectly reasonable statement and watching others’ eyes glaze over as they try to access their old high school vocabulary lists.  At work, they call me the walking dictionary. Yes. To my face. I proofread everything that goes out of that place — well, not everything. Sometimes there are a few things that go out I wish I’d gotten my hands on first. So yes, I would say that I have an unusually large vocabulary and a fairly decent grasp on the English language. However, I try not to sound condescending when I tell people that an apostrophe is never included in a plural and all punctuation goes inside quotation marks, thanyouverymuch. Oh, and let’s not forget that adverbs generally end in ly. Note, generally.

And this is where some of my friends cringe. See, I may have a good grasp on a good portion of the English language, but there are these huge holes.

For example, what the hell is a participle and how do I know when one is dangling? I have a feeling I do that a lot. And split infinitives? Well, my absolutely smarter-than-me friend Rebecca just clarified that for me recently. Semi-colons? Still struggling with them. I have then and than down to a science, but affect and effect still bug me, even when I remind myself one is a noun and one is a verb. These are apparently just blocked for me.

Let’s not even discuss my spelling! Oy!  It’s just about as bad as my math. And don’t ask me to add more than two plus two. Honestly, God invented the adding machine for a reason. Spellcheck, too, for that matter. And if you ever converse with me in IM, get ready to do some translating. For one, I have this odd habit of “dumbing down” and doing silly things like typing double negatives and ain’t every three words. And my typing is — unique. My friends have told me I IM in Cate-onese. Luckily, they can read it.

As for the folks that call me the walking dictionary, I think they’d be shocked if they read an IM from me. Emails, too. Perhaps it’s better if I just speak to these folks. Then they might miss the fact that my knowledge has some interesting weaknesses. You can feel sorry for my kids, though. They’re constantly getting lectures on proper English. And they’re picking it up. They, too, use $50 words on a regular basis. My poor husband.

So in the interest of interaction, what’s your deal? Are you one of those usefull people who I can take to a sale to figure out exactly how much 33% off is? (Heh. How’s that for sentence structure!)  Can you clarify the semi-colon, or just know all the lyrics to every REM song ever recorded? Whatever it is, share your quirk!


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