Assignment #1 (300-500 words)
Write about something you hide or have hidden.
How has hiding this made your life more difficult or more easy?
What comical adventures have you had trying to hide this thing?

Confessions of a Grammar Nazi

I met my husband through a personal ad, which I placed and he answered.  It was 1993, the Internet was still in its wee infancy, and there was no such thing as online dating, so when I finally admitted that I needed help in catching one of those “other fish in the sea” that I’d heard tell of, I wrote the kind of personal ad that only an English teacher would write, and prepared to cast my line.  When I was ready to place my ad, however, I found that most of the newspapers in my area handled such mating calls in the same way:  a person (me) would place an ad, and anyone who cared to respond to it would call a certain phone number and leave a voicemail, to which I could listen at my leisure.  No, NO,  NO!  A voicemail was totally unacceptable!  I wanted—I needed—a writing sample.  It wasn’t that I was going to go full-on Red Pen on the heartfelt, handwritten lines of Mr. Right; I understand that English can be grammatically slippery for even the most well-educated, and also that some people (poor souls) are just bad spellers.  But there is one error that I simply cannot abide:  THE RUN-ON SENTENCE.  I am constitutionally incapable of dating a man who writes run-ons, and I felt strongly that the kindest, fairest thing to do would be to eliminate the ineligible right at the start by looking at a writing sample.  Just imagine what might have happened if I had accepted voicemail responses instead of written ones . . .

Mr. Right and I have been dating for two months or so, and it is now Valentine’s Day.  I am really excited about tonight’s date because, well, it’s Valentine’s Day, and, you know.  It turns out that Mr. Right is quite handsome, and has an exquisitely dreamy voice.  We have dinner in a swanky five-star restaurant, and his white teeth sparkle like teeth in a toothpaste commercial.  I am looking hotter than any 5’1” English teacher ought to look.  He gives me a bouquet of roses and a card, which I open and blushingly read:  “I love you so much, your the best thing that ever happened to me.”  A RUN-ON AND A MISSPELLING OF ONE OF THE MOST BASIC HOMOPHONES IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE!  My jaw drops, my eyes bulge, my face wears a look of horror that bespeaks either a bloody corpse or something truly gross in my dessert; I scream a scream that you only hear in an R-rated movie; I drop the card as though it is burning my fingers; I grab my purse and run from the restaurant.  Mr. Right will never know what caused my sudden meltdown and my flight of terror.  I never speak to him again.

Fortunately, my insistence on written responses to my personal ad worked wonders in preventing such scenes of pain and tragedy.

[This marks 495 words, and seems like a good stopping place.  Indeed, it is the only stopping place that will allow me to remain within the 500 word limit.  However, I beg your indulgence for one final sentence.]

Of the 36 respondents to my ad, I only bothered calling the one who recognized my allusion to The Taming of the Shrew, writing a witty letter free of run-ons, which led to dating, co-habitation, marriage, and a kid, in that order, and in conclusion I would like to point out that this sentence, while admittedly a long one, is NOT, on my sacred honor and by all that I hold dear as writer of grammatically correct English, a run-on.


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