Thursday, June 14, 2012

Differently Abled

A portrait of Husband, borrowed from
I do not understand why so many people misuse apostrophes.

Apostrophes are EASY. They are used to show contraction or possession, and except in very, very rare cases, they NEVER indicate plurals. To show possession, it's simply a matter of adding 's for singular nouns, and a single ' for plural nouns. Those are the rules, and exceptions are unusual enough that you won't go wrong very often if you follow them.

I am genuinely puzzled by the inability of some/many people (especially people who make signs for houses that say things like The Schmidt's) to use apostrophes correctly, and I'm sure that is exactly the way Husband feels when he asks me to navigate.As our vacation proved once more, I am perhaps the most navigationally challenged person ever to ride shotgun.

"Okay, let's go to the Frontier Restaurant," he might say blithely. "How do I get there?" At that moment I begin to perspire around my hairline.

Husband is a navigational homing pigeon. He almost instantly picks up the cartography of a new city, and within hours he knows its major thoroughfares and can find his way back to the hotel. I, on the other hand, never know where I am, except in the general sense of "in the car" or "in the lobby." He is genuinely baffled that I cannot FEEL the west-erness of west, or the north-erness of north. It's much like I feel when I proofread a student assistant's news release and see that "performance's will take place each day."

Now that GPS systems have taken much of the uncertainty out of navigation, my job is easier, but I'm always aware that during a trip to West Virginia a few years ago our reliance on my phone's navigational prowess took us, after an hour-long drive in the dark, not to our reserved hotel room but  to a Lowe's loading dock.

Fortunately, Husband also is patient with my navigational disability. We've laughed for 20 years about the time early in our marriage when we couldn't get to our Boston hotel. We could SEE it from the interstate, but could not find the correct exit to the correct frontage road to the correct driveway to the hotel, so we made ever-decreasing laps back and forth along the highway until we stumbled on the right path. Even today we refer to arriving circuitously at a known destination as a "Boston hotel route."

So we take Boston hotel routes often when we travel and rely on my ability to know and point out correct exits, and I make sure to also point out stray and misused apostrophes on the signs we are passing.

I have to remind myself that I'm exceptionally good at apostrophes, because I am certainly good for nothing when it comes to navigating. 

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