Dangle This!

EGG DONORS WANTED. Whoa there, Nellie! Here was a personal ad that screamed for my attention. LOOKING FOR FIT, INTELLIGENT, EUROPEAN CAUCASIANS IN EXCELLENT HEALTH. FINANCIAL COMPENSATION. That’s me, all right, a female of plain vanilla American Mutt lineage in decent shape and looking to score some easy moolah. As for intelligence, I don’t want to brag, but I stopped appealing my rejection from Mensa the minute I discovered that the letters in my name also contain the word SMART. Granted, the letters can also be used to spell MY TOES or TRAMP, but let’s not be ridiculous.

So somebody needs eggs, huh? Although I’m in the “getting up there” age bracket, I never admit to being a senior unless there’s a discount. Fortunately, I’m very healthy and have lots of eggs. Hmm…but are they fresh and viable? Good question. I probably should’ve asked the store manager why they were all on sale. Anyway, I came home loaded with cartons of free-range brown, some certified organic, and a few extra-large white. Oh, and a few decorated leftovers in an Easter display that I stole from.

That I stole from—?? Hey, ain’t that a dangling participle? Yes, I believe it is. And the critter boldly hangs unencumbered and blowin’ in the breeze, right out there in broad daylight with no sense of decency. OMG, that is so disgusting!! Children, look away! Hide your eyes!!

It’s sad but true, my little dumplings: Many literary terms harbor a second, sleazy meaning kept secret by uptight English teachers without any laugh lines. Consider the darker side of the following examples.

Dependent clauses. Not to be confused with Santa’s underage offspring. Just once, I wish these wussy clauses had the guts to stand on their own. They’re passive and clingy, always sucking up to more dominant clusters of words.

Singular possessive. I have issues with this one. Greeting cards declare, “You are mine!” And traditional wedding vows state, “I take you to be my spouse…until death do us part. Could we be any more dramatic?? And these possessives invariably hook up with the aforementioned dependent clauses. Sick.

Idiom. When one wishes to describe stupid people, it is correct to refer to the non-writing population as morons. Writers, however, are properly called idioms. And frankly, some idioms should never leave the village because we need continuing supervision.

Split infinitive. I beg your pardon, you want me to do what?!? Jeez, my hip surgery is still healing, gimme a break here. There are limits to what I can do, even with ropes and pulleys, buster. If you’re that obsessed with flexibility, I suggest you date a gymnast.

Semicolon. Let’s break the word down. Semi = half, and colon…well, that’s not a topic discussed at formal gatherings unless you’re over 50. Regardless, few people know that the original Latin meaning was “half-assed.” That’s right. Have you ever spotted a semicolon used in everyday Tweets, Twitters or even emails? Of course not! People will either pause with a comma or stop with a period, but who has time for half-assed punctuation??

Appositive. No clue what the hell this is.

Loose vowels. Sometimes this happens without warning and is, oh, so embarrassing. The problem may start small, with a misplaced “a” or “e,” and then before we can say gastric distress, there’s a big OOPS!! Sorry, you can’t pay me enough to clean up the mess.

Restrictive modifiers. Ooh, baby, hand me that black leather. Not too restrictive, and modified with extra padding for comfort, a few spikes and a little fringe.

Bibliophilia. Okay, the suffix -philia translates as “love of.” And we all know what a bib is, right? Librarians will deny it, but bibliophilia really means an enduring emotional attachment to a garment that catches drool and food stains.

Finally, a relationship this idiom can handle.

Copyright © 2011 by Mary Tompsett


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