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Appreciation ... sort of

May 14, 2010
Posted at 3:11 pm
Updated: May 14, 2010 - 3:18 pm

I wanted to take a little space up to thank everybody for the astonishingly warm reception of "The Grocery List." Stormy Weather will probably write something in her blog too, so I won't speak for her, but I know she was thrilled. She actually called me "Dear," and I almost had an org...

Well never mind. I was happy that she was happy.

I thought it was very interesting that a lot of people said they'd never seen this humorous side of me before. That's interesting because I've tried to put lots of humor into my stories. I love to laugh. Science says it's good for the body, and I think it's good for the soul too. So I hope that those people simply haven't read anything else by me that had what I hoped was humor in it.

More than one person said this was one of the wackiest story lines they'd ever read. That's fine. I don't mind being a little strange now and then. Strange is at least interesting, and sometimes educational. Not that I'm trying to suggest I was trying to educate anybody with The Grocery List. I'm a bullshitter, but not that big a bullshitter.

But strange is strange, and I have to mention one message I got. And this is no BS.

The feedback message I'm referring to was from a guy named George, in Fresno. I add the "in Fresno" part because a lot of Georges seem to write to me. A different George was actually the genesis of this story, so I don't want to confuse them. Anyway, George in Fresno said that in this story I had invented something he called "Talky-cock."

Now there is something to be proud of.

Being an older gentleman, as Stormy would kindly put it, I'm well on my way to croaking some day. I can just see it now. I die in my sleep one night, and the next day the media tells it like this:

Robert Lubrican, the reclusive smut author and inventor of Cocky-talk died last night of an undisclosed malady. The National Organization of Men has announced that tomorrow, at eight in the morning, men are invited to grab their crotches during a moment of silence in memory of Mr. Lubrican.

Of course, deeper in the paper, there would be an announcement that the convention for the Professional Society of Obstetricians is being cancelled due to the expected sharp falloff in new pregnancies in America, or that Lubrican's death suddenly solved the shortage of OBs in America or something like that.

We don't get to choose the things we're missed for. It might be of service to you and those around you to remember that.

For sure Stormy will miss me, though, because I flirt with her shamelessly. I go a little overboard, seeing as how we'll probably never actually see each other in person. Plus, she's single and available, so I won't have any sturdy gorilla boyfriends hunting me down. But I think the flirting is one reasons that our writing meshes well, and when I'm not around anymore who will flirt with her then?

Not that I'm planning on expiring soon. I hope to keep providing entertainment for you folks for years.

That last sentence, however, brings up another point I'd like to touch on. We got a lot of help on this story from readers just like you, who pointed out things that caused you to stop reading so you could figure out what we meant, or were misspelled (Michelle catches them, but then we put mistakes back in, in subsequent edits) or whatever. The sentence before this paragraph is a good example. It says I hope to keep providing entertainment. Now that can be read two ways. It can be read that I assume what I provide is entertainment, and that I hope to keep providing it. But it can also be interpreted as I hope that what I keep providing is entertainment. In both of those, the "is" gets emphasis, but for completely different reasons, in context.

You people are very intelligent. I am constantly amazed at how intelligent you are, and you notice things like this all the time, and write to me and ask which thing I meant, and why I wasn't more precise.

I have two things to say to you:

1. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, because as a philosopher I love parsing words and meanings and all that stuff.

2. Get a grip, folks. There is context, and you can usually figure out what I meant if you don't over analyze it.

See how complicated all this can be?

I'll give you another example. Here is copy from a feedback email I got:

"If I'd have had two bottles of wine..." - another
interesting quandary. Is "I'd" a contraction of "I
would" or 'I had'? In the first case, the
un-contracted sentence becomes "If I would have
had two bottles of wine" which sounds silly to me
when 'If' starts it out. In the second case, "If I
had have had.." obviously wrong! I suspect you
would be happy with "If I had had two bottles of
wine", right? Isn't this fun!"

Now this really is an interesting quandary. I'm not the kind of person who would say "If I had had two bottles of wine ..." I'd say "If I'd have had two bottles of wine ..." That's why I said it that way ... it's how I'd say it.

Is it regional difference? Is it just poor education? Who does talk that way? This also generated two things, but they're questions this time, rather than comments.

1. Would this story benefit from all English language being strictly in line with the Robert's Rules of Order of the literary world? Is the point to put flawless diction on the page? Is anything lost if you always use "may I" instead of "can I"?

(Okay, I know that's multiple questions, but they all apply to the same thing concept and it would be a heck of a run-on sentence if I just used commas.)

2. Did you understand what I meant?

Now some of you out there may be saying "Shit, dude, get a freakin' life, man!" which should, of course, be rendered "Alas! This is much ado about nothing!" But it really is a big deal, because some people have a hard time enjoying the read when they keep seeing technical grammatical errors. Their mind is tuned that way. And I love all my readers, so I can't tell just tell these people to fuck off and die... er I mean get a freakin' life.

What I can do, though, is suggest that there is a time and place for technically perfect writing. Instruction manuals, shareholder reports (reports of all kinds for that matter,) textbooks, articles for professional journals, and more things I can't think of right now all need to be flawless in terms of choice of words, arrangement, grammar and spelling.

Dirty stories, on the other hand, could be viewed from a more relaxed, and less anal perspective. I don't use anal as a negatively oriented adjective, here. It's simply a habit of observation that isn't always appropriate, given the context of things. Take, for example, one of my favorite bumper stickers:


If you correct it, it's not worth sticking on your bumper. Unless you're the English teacher at the local school. It would be importunt then.

I'm not trying to weasel out of correcting things that are misspelled. This whole diatribe is to inform you of something about me that I really, really, really want you to remember. Again, it's two things.

1. I actually, honestly, truthfully appreciate you writing and telling me what you think and what you saw "wrong."

2. I may disagree with you sometimes, and not correct it.

Thanks for reading.