Saturday, July 18, 2015

Inside An English Teacher's Head

Tony used to say to me allllll the time, "I'd love to be in your head for just a day."

I always and quickly retorted with an attitude, "I would never be in your brain for even a minute. It would be so, so, so constricting, so logical."

"But I'd just like to know how you think."

"I already know how you think." Aren't we close minded and stubborn.

I've always thought my free floating, psychedelic, easy chill, relaxed way of thinking (the pool man asked me if I had been a hippie in the sixties--TOO YOUNG I AM), couldn't be beat, but the way I've been deliberating over the usage of further and farther, I wonder if being in my mind, maybe isn't all that incredible and free flowing. I am after all, an English teacher.

English teachers worry and deliberate over strange things. For instance, while on a mini, two-week student teaching assignment,  my old battle ax of an English teacher mentor, who was retiring that year, wrote a letter to my advisors complaining that I had used the subjunctive conditional incorrectly!!!

Is that what I am destined to become?

So, I try very hard not to be prescriptive and not to ever correct anyone's grammar or language use. Do I even have a right, since I once used the subjunctive conditional incorrectly?

My teaching partner, and hysterically funny friend Deb and I (wait, is it I or me?--I because it is in the nominative position since Deb and I are the subject of the sentence--now if when talking about me in the objective position, then it would be......See what I mean?)---the sentence sort of got lost; (by the way I love semi-colons), I will start over. Deb and I (should this have been a new paragraph?) text quite a bit, and in the beginning, when auto correct took over and we sent some pretty wonky, non English teacher messages, we would always correct and send on the correction with an explanation--so subconscious were we of our faux pas (love inserting a little bit of French). But now! I swear, I love to send Deb texts that are grammatically incorrect. She is the one person who will appreciate the bucking against all that English teacher hoorah gimmish gammish garbage of prescriptive English language laws and rules for which one is considered a backward, backwoods, crocodile eating, swamp tuna, if one uses the English language wrong, and this is according to a self imposed elite group of men who wore powdered wigs and knickers. Probably.

Today I sent Deb a text that said, "You is cute!" It felt so good!

Even worse than if I were prescriptive (correct use of subjunctive conditional), and conscious of it, we English teachers run the risk of passing on our idiosyncrasies to our children.  I knew all was not well, when a young man asked my daughter to a dance by decorating her car with flattering phrases. One of his messages was: Your so beautiful.

My daughter had to turn him down.

"I can't go to a dance with a guy who misused your as the possessive when it should have been the contraction you are=you're."


Remember to run if you are in the company of an English teacher when someone has the audacity to correct her!!! Over twenty years ago, I mispronounced (this is debatable), consortium in a group of academics--the PHD kind. One of them broke the cardinal rule of all grammar rules: public correction!!! Who the ____was he to think he could correct me? I have never forgotten and find great joy when I hear another person, on NPR or from a different region than the west, pronounce it like me! Constantly looking for vindication is hard work.

So is holding a grudge. Whenever I see this man, I seethe, even though it was so long ago, he has no idea who the angry woman, who just let the air out of his tires, could  be.

And Tony wants to be in my head for a day?