I’m part of a writing group, and our assignment for last month was to write something funny. One of the suggested prompts was to imagine you woke up one day with a superpower. This superhero story is dedicated to all my fellow grammar geeks!
Surprisingly, it wasn’t the cape she noticed first, scratchy as it was around her neck. When she peeled her eyes open, the first thing she saw, as she did every morning, was the blasted orange sticker affixed to the skylight.
For “repairs” call 1-800-555-2369!
She glared at it, resenting its smarmy, illogical use of quotation marks. Do they mean the repairs will be ironic? She groaned, reaching for the pillow to cover her head. But before she could snooze for a few more minutes, she felt a tingle down her right arm, like a tiny electrical current. What was that? Did I sleep on my arm funny last night?
She looked at her outreached arm and noticed that her finger was pointing precisely in the direction of the offending sticker. She squinted at the orange rectangle more closely and gasped. The opening quotation mark had vanished! She pointed a tentative finger at the closing quotes, and it, too, evaporated, leaving behind no ink trace or grammatical scar.
She jumped out of bed, rubbing her eyes. Spying the Cheez-It box on the nightstand, she waved a hand in the direction of the cleverly misspelled Cheez. “Bam!” she said, and before her eyes, the z melted into se. Cheese-Its. Much better.
As she stared at her arm in wonder, she noticed a swirl of black behind her. Sure enough, she was wearing a cape—one with a gigantic cursive G in the center. In smaller letters underneath, the tagline read, “Saving the world, one comma at a time!”
Her phone beeped. She picked it up, annoyed to see that it was more spam.
UR eligible 4 a lower r8!
Her finger hovered over the Delete button, but then she paused. “Zing!” she cried, pointing a finger at the screen.
You are eligible for a lower rate!
She grinned smugly and got ready for work. Throughout the day she pointed her finger wherever she spotted grammatical violations. When she was stopped at an intersection, she changed the “Slow Children” sign to “Slow: Children.” When she passed the road-side market, she zapped the sign that read “Peach’s for sale,” sending the errant apostrophe into oblivion. At her desk, she scanned her e-mail messages for there/their/they’re confusion and affect/effect mix-ups. She reconjugated verbs, undangled modifiers, and eliminated all figurative uses of literally.
When she got home, she flopped down on the couch, exhausted but satisfied. Just as she put her feet up, she spotted a yellow envelope on the edge of the coffee table. She picked it up and saw her name on the front. What’s the occasion? She racked her brain, trying to figure out which holiday she’d overlooked. It’s not my birthday, not our anniversary . . .
She opened it up, and on the inside, in her husband’s unmistakable script, was this message:
She reached behind her head and removed her cape, setting it on the end of the couch. There were some things that not even Grammar Girl could improve upon. Or should that be “upon which not even Grammar Girl could improve”?
It didn’t matter. After all, there were some things even more important than proper grammar.