Monday, March 26, 2012

Correcting Grammatical Errors (and other weird things I do)

Before I begin my post, I would like to apologize for not posting in a while: Sorry! We've been unimaginably busy with schoolwork, a camping trip, and various other departures from our normal routine. It's been Chaos Week for the last month, and I'm prefectly aware of the incongruity in that sentence.

I like saying absurd things –"They're identical except for the differences"– and writing odd things. I also tend to mispronounce words; usually by accident, but sometimes on purpose. For example, I am determined to say queue as "kweh-weh", because that's how it's spelled. If the dictionary writers wanted it pronounced "cue", they shouldn't have put in all those extra letters! And the word wrong – it's spelled wrong. I used to pronounce it wrong (incorrectly enunciating the 'w') – until I became distracted with other, more egregious violations of common sense in spelling. Like cello, which, when written, has always reminded me of an abbreviation for cellophane.
And refrigerator, which does not have a 'd' in it. For some reason, fridge does. Who thought that one up? You don't pronounce a 'd' in either word. All it does is contribute to poor spelling! Poor spelling is the bane of my existence! (Isn't that a dramatic sentence?)
And on the topic of poor spelling, that's another 'thing' I do – correct everything. If I'm walking through Trader Joe's and I see a misspelled sign, I stop, stare at it dramatically, and run off to notify the closest employee, usually an innocent guy stocking the shelves. I know he probably didn't do it, but he might know who did. And if it's especially catastrophic – say, a banner posted right above the door with an unneeded apostrophe, I might walk straight up to the manager and announce: "Did you know your sign is wrong?"
I have done this several times at a nearby Gelsons' supermarket, where a large, expensive and permanent sign about the farms their lettuce grows on has the word mountainous spelled mountaineous. Don't professional sign makers use spellcheck?

The only places exempt from these corrections are stores such as the Japanese market we often go to. Their signs probably make sense in Japanese, but when they get run through Google Translate, weird things start popping up. "Expired foods sale!" (I think that means "day-old bakery items".) "Sale: Leafy pie!" (Is that some sort of cookie? For some reason, sandwich cookies are referred to as 'pie' by Japanese stores.)
Everywhere else, though – if I've caught a misspelling or a grammatical error, they're going to know. Isn't it better to be corrected than appear stupid in front of thousands of customers?

But what does this have to do with being mentally different? (Do you like that euphemism? It's better than "special needs"…)
Well, when was the last time you saw a poorly written sign? Did you go point it out to the store's employees? Maybe you did; more likely you just went on with your day. I don't do that. The first time I see it I point it out, and if it's not fixed when we're back next week, I point it out again! "Excuse me, but that sign says "Pre-Christmas Sale" and it's January…" "Quintessence is spelled with an 'i' and you have it with an 'e'!" "Excuse me Mr. Store Manager Guy, but did you know your employees are abusing innocent apostrophes?"
If I was that store manager, I would want to know!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Illusion of Normalcy-Part 2

March 11

The house is free of offensive signs, which I have filed away to put up later. The bathrooms are habitable and the yard is unusually neat. We've cleaned the car, and every Internet meme on every mirror has been erased. A vase of lemons stands on the buffet where a pile of art supplies used to be, and I've hidden the paper 'Swiss cheese on a spring'. Our house is normal…but are we?
I threaten my brother with doom if he quotes any video game characters. I go through my clothes, pushing my furry yellow Pikachu pajamas and home-decorated shirts to the back shelf. I should really search my brother's drawers and hide all his ratty sweatpants and chocolate smoothie-stained shirts, but he'd probably find them.

What else is wrong?

I remove a giant drawing of Jigglypuff from my brother's room and hide it in his closet. My list of hygiene behaviors is rolled up with the blank papers–I hope I don't forget to brush my hair. I've already filed away the Sonic the Hedgehog comic I was drawing, removed the sign above my door that says LAIR and erased the swear word from my whiteboard. I make a list of all the things to not perseverate about, and a list for my brother as well: Do NOT leave your room without pants! Do NOT recite the DirectTV commercial! And in large letters at the bottom: ABSOLUTELY NO CALLING ME A POTATO!!

March 13

So far, so good. No untoward signs of weirdness have popped up since Grandpa arrived. My room has, miraculously, stayed clean for five days. My brother has not quoted a single video game character. Every time I walk into the dining room, I'm tempted to write "COMBUSTIBLE LEMONS!" with a whiteboard marker on the glass vase full of lemons. But I'm not going to.
That afternoon, Mother replaces the lemons with Euphorbia flowers. The Euphorbia plant has toxic sap, and I imagine how funny it would be to put my generic 'POISON THING' sign behind it. I don't, but I do warn Grandpa about how the milky sap causes blisters if you get it on your skin.
Our plans to build a cardboard-and-packaging-foam spiky crusher (a hybrid of those found in Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario and Portal), are on hold, though I'm gathering materials. I think someone threw out my collection of squishy foam…
No blatant weirdness has manifested yet. But Grandpa is staying for almost a week. Can we keep it up?