Thursday, November 28, 2013

Son of Grammar Snob

It must have been a long day at school because I'll admit my reaction was on the "strong" side, to put a pretty face on it.  I was driving home, listening to NPR's "All Things Considered" on KUT, our local affiliate here in Austin.

The narrative drew me in, as NPR so often does.  I found myself nodding my head here and there at salient points the story covered, when I heard this line:

"My friend's daughters received the help they needed, but this was not the case for my family and I."

Suddenly I went from nodding my head amiably to screaming at my radio console.  "'My family and ME!' 'My family and ME!' You're OVERCOMPENSATING! 'Me' is the OBJECT pronoun, not the SUBJECT! Arrrrggghhh!"

I stopped myself short of having an aneurysm and/or driving into a ditch.  Catching my breath, I thought of a short-lived reality show that aired on MTV for a while, in which the producers rigged people's cars with hidden cameras, so that the drivers could be captured singing along (badly, normally) to their favorite songs on the radio.  I wondered what a video of my little grammar tirade would look like.  It would probably be evidence enough for most judges to have me committed to a mental institution.

And to make the judge's case even stronger, a voice suddenly popped into my head.  "You're overcompensating.  Look here:  Take away the other people -- in this case it's 'my family.'  You wouldn't say 'this was not the case for I,' would you?"  It was one of those moments when you realize how hard-wired your DNA is.  For some people it's a predilection for alcohol and cigarettes (I may have inherited some of that, as well, but that's another blog post.)  My mother's voice came right back to me, and I started laughing, as I remembered the way she would frown as she corrected my brother and me whenever we made this sort of error.

(You'll notice she didn't correct "my brother and I.")

My mother, Carol Fuchs, doing a few of her favorite things in the summer of 1963 -- reading, lying on the beach and smoking*

*And yes, she was pregnant with me at the time.  As I said, that's another blog post...

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