Even when I try to be serious, sometimes I just fail miserably.
Last week, I decided to check out the #SyriaStrikes hashtag on Twitter to see what the general reaction was. The hyperpartisan pretty much fell along their party lines, though it seemed there were a lot of Trump supporters rethinking that support (maybe because some Democrats supported the strike, which … oh, my God, that can’t happen!). Others were wildly inappropriate and hostile to others’ opinions (well, it is Twitter). There were a few attempts at levity, but most of what I read fell flat because when you try to be funny, you often fail, especially after such an event.
When I read @sara_toofaced’s tweet, I tried really hard not to laugh, but being a word nerd made that impossible: “#SyriaStrikes not suprising [sic] at all, stuffing your big fat nose into other people’s country, killing people and playing the roll of a hero.”
Roll. Of. A. Hero.
My first thought was “What kind of bread roll is that? Ooh, maybe cheese bread with asiago baked in …” followed quickly by “A hero sandwich sounds kinda good right now. With grilled chicken.”
People in the newsroom usually know that when they hear a cackle, it’s most likely me finding something that tickles my word-nerd fancy. (They also know I’m constantly attempting to get my face to “freeze that way,” and failing.) At home, the furry one tends to just leave the room when I start chortling because it means he’s not the center of attention—a homophone mistake or other word-usage error has stolen the spotlight.
How many times have I read that we have a right to “bare” arms? (With my chubby arms, I prefer sleeves.) And how often does someone “reek” havoc? (Though to be fair, havoc can be a bit smelly.) And why do some insist on giving me a “peace” of their “mine”? (Uh, peace and mines don’t really go together.)
I see these mistakes and others (especially regarding to/too/two and their/they’re/there) all the time, so errors like “roll of a hero” make me inordinately giddy. Give me a “chicken coup” (since I grew up in the country and lived downwind from those stinky, disorganized militants) and you can just stick a fork in me. Nothing will get done until the laughter subsides.
Bonnie Trenga Mills of QuickAndDirtyTips.com (home of Grammar Girl) noted the importance of awareness of homophones. “When you pick the wrong word, your readers laugh at your amusing sentence. It’s great to put them at ease with a joke or two, but if they’re smiling at what you wrote in all seriousness, that’s not good. Other readers don’t laugh; they cringe and wince, lament and vent. Some sticklers just stop reading.”
Or if it’s in actual conversation, they walk away, as I did quite a bit when I shattered my humerus back in 2009 (no, it’s still not humorous). There are only so many puns even the hardiest word nerd can take.
Hey, walking away works for the furry one. Of course, he has a fluffy tail he can hold aloft haughtily as he does it.
So for all the bad manors people display while running aarons before going out for a big, juicy stake and a ginger ail to slake their thirst, here’s to you. And to those taking a crews on a regular bases, don’t take your luck for granite. Remember that you’re aloud to barry the hatchet, just not in somebody. I pay amish to all of you.
And yep, all of those were on Twitter.
Wow. People on Twitter really have a lot to learn … I mean other than not typing in all caps, or using excessive punctuation, or being offended by everything …
I have said before that I make mistakes … a lot. Usually they’re not much of a big deal and hurt no one but me. This one hurts my credibility a little.
Reader and letter-writer Mike Watts was concerned about a recent letter that contained the sentence, “As you know, we have not received a raise in Social Security for some time.” Watts writes: “I knew that not to be the case, both because I receive Social Security benefits and because I’m a tax nerd. There was an increase, albeit tiny (0.3 percent) for 2017.”
Glad to see someone else embracing their nerd-itude. And he’s also correct.
When I edit letters, I try to do it minimally and I do my best not to change the intended meaning. On a statement like what was in the letter in question, I ordinarily would insert a “hedging” word. In this case, I probably would have done something like “… we essentially have not received a raise in Social Security for some time.” Since the raises (which since 1976 have been tied to the Consumer Price Index, so stop blaming the president) in the past several years have been mostly small—or nonexistent in the cases of 2009, 2010 and 2015—“essentially” would hedge it enough to pass muster in a letter. In a news story or a professional document, not so much.
But this one slipped through; I failed, and I’m sorry. I will make mistakes again since I’m human (last I checked, anyway), so I can only hope you’ll have patience with me.
If that doesn’t work, I’ll break out the pictures of the furry one sleeping. Who can be mad at such cuteness?
OK, I couldn’t close without a shoutout to some people who executed masterful burns on Twitter. Two exchanges really caught my eye while checking the Trump Twitter feed on Tuesday (I’m sick and I need help). I say bravo to these wits.
I’d give a standing ovation, but I’m sleepy.