shaken, not slurred

Mars, Venus and Caitlyn

I have to begin with a heartfelt thank you (Yes, I can be heartfelt) to all my peeps out there who reached out and sent good wishes my way. I am reminded all the time as to what a great thing technology is, if only because it allows you to interact with people you otherwise would have never gotten to know. As for me? Still kicking, on my third specialist in a month. The BP isn’t budging so we’ve been looking into possible reasons for this. I keep telling the doctors that it’s because I’m developing super powers and my mortal body is rejecting my organic technology . . . to which they replied with another referral, this time to a psychiatrist. I’m game, as long as she’s hot.  

And now on with the show.

Today’s post is all about the girls. Or guys. Both? Of course, I’m talking about Caitlyn Jenner, the most hyped set of heels since Angelina Jolie made her big screen debut in that movie about the model whose title I can’t recall because I just kept watching the lesbian scene, over and over again. Oh wait, I think the name of the movie was Gia, and I highly recommend it even if I have no blessed idea how the rest of the flick goes.

Caitlyn Jenner is a fascinating case study. Think about it, we’re talking about a world class, gold medal winning Olympian during the Ford administration who lived with a secret for nearly forty years. He was a Wheaties cover boy, the ultimate man’s man . . . in our eyes. We had no idea as to the daily struggle Bruce Jenner was involved in every single day from the time he became a household name to that Vanity Fair cover. If you wrote up that script, you’d end up with more slammed doors than a Mormon Church salesman.

Admittedly, I made light of Bruce Jenner’s estrogen-centric personality many times over the years. I once wrote that Bruce Jenner was a closet NOW member, which only goes to show that Nostradamus and George Carlin must be in my family tree. Of course I was being irreverent in my observation; basing it entirely on Jenner’s submissive deference to the patriarchal Kris Jenner. I like cheap laughs and I cannot lie. Soooo, now that he has become she, I’m not going to construct a pretense that I like Caitlyn. Because really, if I believed Bruce to be a self absorbed weenie whose fame allowed him a pass, why would I change my opinion just because she started wearing heels?

That said, I do applaud her courage. It’s a hell of a thing to live a life you don’t really feel, and it’s a hell of an accomplishment to come at us with the truth two thirds of the way through a testosterone injected narrative, and to do it on a stage, in front of scores of athletes- most of whom share a rather narrow viewpoint when it comes to matters of gender and preference. I didn’t see her speech only because I refuse to watch the ESPY’S- an awards show whose very existence is yet another sign of the impending apocalypse. But Jenner nailed it from all accounts, and good for her.

Caitlyn Jenner is the rare exception to the rule in that she possesses the ability to be a symbol- a real deal one- for change. Symbols rarely have the ability to gestate. Typically, they behave very much like a supernova in that they burn brightly and then explode into a million tiny pieces before the meaning can foster a movement. In most instances all we’re left with is pixie dust and the mostly unrealistic wishes they engender. Caitlyn Jenner- for all the warts of her predecessor- has a chance to stick. Does this mean she’s going to morph from a media whore into a stoic figure? Fat chance. And it doesn’t matter, because all that’s really gonna matter are the actions taken in moving this gender discussion forward. You gotta start somewhere and she’s doing that.

Of course, being the childishly adorable mutt that I am, I can’t help but to wonder about things that have absolutely nothing to do with the big picture quality of this moment. Like, what would my name be if I were a woman?

Mia. Definitely Mia. It’s succinct, cute and versatile. You can see Mia becoming a doctor or a stripper. Hell, she could work her way through school as a stripper, after which she dons the white suit. Whereas Margaret is strictly PhD and Dallas should be written in glitter- Mia can be both, after which she writes a tome and becomes a talk show host. It’s the dream, right?

As far as accoutrements go, I would be a HUGE Coach fan. My collection wouldn’t rival Kardashian, don’t be silly, but it would probably result in divorce papers once I bankrupt my first hubby- who would also be a doctor (We met when I was stripping.) Skirts would be my thing. I’m a dude who’s pushing fifty and I am fed up with pants as it is. Skirts would grant me the presupposition that I was a classy dame whilst hiding the truth of the matter- that I’m just a slut who’s always ready to hike ’em up and get it on.

I’ll finally be able to admit that yes! I have fat days!

I would be all about hoop earrings and tramp stamps and cranberry lipstick (cranberry matches my mood, I read it in Cosmo). I would start a Vera Farmiga fan page that became so popular it gained me an audience with Her. Best case scenario involves me achieving bestie status- which I can only assume involves pillow fights, eating S’mores in lingerie and hours long tickle fights that end in slow motion kissing sessions (I know it’s predictable, but if Gloria Steinem taught this boy anything, it’s to dream big, dammit!).

The truth is, I don’t care whether I come back as a man or a woman in my next life. I just hope I have the courage and the voice that Caitlyn displayed in her speech. It’s pretty ironic, in that she might end up having more balls than Bruce ever did.

Too soon?

For the better part of the last month, I couldn’t do this.

I sat down on Sunday, June 14th and I tried to write a blogpost on my forty eight hour adventure through time that began with a routine six month checkup and went off road from there. I rambled on to the tune of a couple thousand words that proved messier than Picasso’s sketch pad. After which I cried. Sobbed was more like it.

Before I go further, you can chill. I’m not dying. Whatever’s ailing me isn’t likely to be life threatening. A sobering testimony to the fragility of this thing called life? Yeah, it’s been that. Inside the last several weeks I’ve had an ultrasound, a CAT scan, an echocardiogram, an electrocardiogram (Admittedly, I didn’t know the diff before now). I’ve had more blood work done than a vampire on commision, not to mention a couple of new doctors who continue to poke and prod me for answers. I halfway expect them to start sending me Hallmark cards if these relationships go any further. Or at least flowers . . to which I’m partial to sunflowers if they’re reading this.

My official diagnosis is hypertension- the gift that keeps on bitching. Unofficially, I consider this period of my life to be a huge pain in the ass. It’s been months since I had a decent night’s sleep, or since I could have a drink (the kind that puts hair on body parts) without suffering through a headache from Hades. I’ve moved through several different BP meds with little change in my elevated levels.

It’s wait and see.

Soooo, my blogless existence hasn’t been the result of a lack of trying. That Sunday morning attempt last month, the one that ended in a great big bawl of delete was followed with a few more attempts at a post. Each and every one of them was more incoherent and rambling than the last. Until I decided to right my brain before I took another shot. Because I wanted to post something and I wanted to make some kind of sense. And most of all, because I wanted to let you all know that I think about you. And I appreciate you. And yes, you all are something I look forward to.

The irony of these last couple weeks is that I have been gravitating to all the things I look forward to. In between work and dates with doctors, I’ve been taking advantage of the moments. Hugs have become akin to breathing. Saying I love you carries the same effect as an adrenaline shot. Travailing the big ideas is one thing, but trespassing into the simple moments of a day is what makes you realize how amazing life truly is.

That original post involved a trip to the ER and the perspective you gain when you have absolutely no control over what is happening to your body. I wrote the post as if an epitaph to the ordeal, rather than what it was- my introduction to a different way of living. Because the truth of the matter is that I’m still not certain as to what is really going on. All I really know, for absolute certainty, is that I will never . .and I mean ever take my health for granted. It’s not cliched to admit this, but that whole thing about health being the most important thing? Alls I would add is this- your health? It’s the only thing.

Over the last several weeks, the material worries have been marginalized into a little corner. It’s what happens when you do an inventory; you peel away the meaningless and you cull those moments I was talking about earlier. The complicated world you find yourself walking through suddenly becomes a simple piece of work. You become the author of the book you’re writing with each waking day, and so the words you pen with everything you do matter. Lots.

Naturally, I’ve done a lot of thinking recently. My search for answers to the things going on inside my body has led me into this metaphysical journey that has proven to be a merciful oasis when my spirit gets tired. I think back to a time when I was five years old and my world went black and I think back to a time in 2001 when I spent a sleepless night in a hospital room after surgery to remove cancerous growths. Life was trying like hell to beat me down and in both instances, I kept my balance well enough to keep moving forward. Because that’s the whole thing. As beautiful a thing as this life can be, it has an ugly side that will kill you long before the lights go out. It’s easy to feel as if life has become too arduous, that it’s easier to just give up. And to this very real and dark place, my advice to you is this.

Don’t.

I was reminded of just how great a thing this life can be yesterday. A day that began with me rescuing a shrieking coworker from, of all things, a grasshopper. I scooped up the little guy and moved him outside, after which I contemplated the karmic exchange rate of such a thing. Grasshoppers are a mystical embodiment of the time and space we encompass seeing as how they can only move forward; a trait we all aspire to, really.

It took all of a day to receive my answer. As my daughter and me were trying- unsuccessfully- to cram a couple of steel frame chairs I’d just purchased into my car and I was cursing up the fact that I’d sold my truck by using words that very much rhymed with fuck.

“Do you live close by?”

The voice came from a girl inside a Rav4 who was passing by. I replied dumbly with “Yeah”, after which she parked in the space next to mine and offered to load it up and follow me home.

Who does that?! Hadn’t she heard that the world is going to hell in a handbasket that was made in China? Where did she come off doing something so fool as a random act of kindness? Especially on a night when storm clouds were moving in fast and they were lugging tornado warnings along with them. I mean . . . who does that?!

This woman, that’s who. A young mother with rings under her eyes, dressed in the workaday clothes of a job that never ends. She opened the back and she moved her stroller and we loaded up the chairs and she followed me home and she refused the ten spot I offered and then we shook hands and then she left and shortly thereafter, as if by some cosmic production, the curtain fell and then so did the rain.

If not for this woman, I would have been schlepping the chairs back into the store after a losing battle with my compact. After which I would have been driving through a storm whilst cursing the fates, despite my newly found perspective inside a trying month.

And that’s where the morning came into my head, and that grasshopper. That beautiful little grasshopper I had delivered to safety. Payback. Just like that. I had granted him the ability to keep moving forward inside the plush grass and weeping trees, and in return, he let me know, “Hey dude, I got your back.”

My advice to you all is simpler than Simon. Keep moving forward. Pay attention to the moments. Be thankful for the smallest favors and always remember to pay them back in kind. It’s all you’re promised, and it’s really all you can ask. I have to go for now, because I’m weeping all over again. I notice that I’m more sentimental than usual of late. I’ll be hitting you back when I get home tonight, but I wanted to post something that ended in publish rather than delete. If you happen upon a grasshopper, feel free to introduce yourself.

Trust me on this.

ToewsThe Chicago Blackhawks started doing business back in 1926, which happens to be the same year Pontiac and Route 66 were born. The Tampa Bay Lightning started doing business in 1992, which happens to be the same year Euro Disney and Mall of America were born.

Two weeks ago, those were the only facts I needed. I had little use for any professional hockey team coming out of a football state. Never mind that the Lightning actually won a Stanley Cup back in 2004 and never mind that they finished with the best record in the league this season. As far as I was concerned, the only peeps who were going to get away with rooting for the Bolts in these finals were the ones born in the Post-Clintonian Era.

I had my ‘Hawks winning this series in five games, easy. It took all of twenty minutes of Game 1 to change my mind. Because the Lightning had more game than Bob Barker, and it was apparent from the first drop of the puck. They ran a fast break offense . . . in hockey. They went six games deep- in spite of all the injuries- and they played the lights out of every faceoff, every period, every game. They didn’t shrink inside the moment, they grew up.

Which only makes this Chicago win that much sweeter. To beat a club that was every bit its equal for much of this series, and to close out the series at home for the first time since 1938? That’s what I’m talking ’bout.

Make no mistake, last night was Game 7 for the Blackhawks. Because if this series went back to Tampa tomorrow night, well . . . I love my team and I’m never, ever gonna count them out, but it would have been like letting Joe Frazier get one more round. Never a good idea.

So now the Blackhawks have three Stanleys in the past six years, and I’m not gonna bother myself with the semantics of all this dynasty chatter. Alls I know is that Chicago is the new Hockey Town (Take that Detroit!) and that my team knows how to close the toughest deals. The chances of Chitown getting back this way again are looking mighty friendly at the moment. They have two of the best players in the world, they have a goalie who will always carry a chip on his shoulder, they have youth, and they have a coach who is working up his Hall of Fame resume with each new summer party.

None of that matters once next season rolls around. Injuries, departures and clubs like the Tampa Bay Lightning are gonna have plenty to say about what happens next year. Which is why Chitown- as great a sports town as I’ve ever seen- is gonna stay chill all dog day summer long. Because they’ve got the best damn answer to any sports argument you can muster.

We win.

 

 

We SuckThe last time I played an organized game on a baseball diamond, Ronald Reagan and the Cleveland Browns were still alive, and if you didn’t know what ‘doing the nasty’ meant, then you probably weren’t doing it.

I turned back the clock last weekend when I took the field for a charity softball game, because I feel that if you’re gonna make an ass of yourself, you might as well do it for a good cause. Never mind that first pitch was at six in the morning. Never mind that we were pitted against a team of  Amish and Mennonite dudes who looked as if they’d just come from church . . if church had last call. Never mind that I hate softball. It was all about a good cause. Making an ass of myself was the bonus round.

There are times in your life when your body ignores the high mileage on your odometer and gifts you a pass to a time before ibuprofen became a daily supplement. Saturday morning was not one of those times. It took all of, I don’t know . . twelve and a half minutes? . . for my imaginary athletic prowess to be introduced to forty eight years of age. Let’s just say they didn’t hit it off.

I was batting third in the order when we came to bat in the bottom half of the first. In the majors, the third place hitter plays a pivotal role, as he is the table setter for the club’s cleanup hitter; oftentimes, he’s the difference between a big inning and a quick one. In the majors, they don’t just let any schmuck bat third in the order. Softball is a little bit different because as it turns out? They do let any schmuck bat third in the order.

The first pitch wasn’t so much an arc as a dry hump, listing aimlessly as if a retarded hamster in search of a place to die.

“Strike!”

I could have clocked its speed with an hourglass, while making fudge. Nonetheless, I let the morbidly obese rawhide nestle inside the catcher’s glove with a cool glare, as if to say Ain’t no thingThe six million degrees of separation between myself and a legit ballplayer is undeniable, but for the called strike. I look pretty damn professional taking a called strike. It’s the only comparison I can rightly muster, but it still counts.

When the next dead hamster came hurtling in at four and a half miles an hour, the shit got real. My bat went medieval as I crushed it deep over the shortstop’s glove before it bounced safely into left center(ish) for a hit. I would’ve left Willie Mays in the dust with my sprint up the first base line, seeing as he is eighty four years old. The crowd was screaming as my foot pounded first base, and that’s when it hit me. There was no crowd. The screaming was coming from my quad muscle, and it was banshee-like. I contemplated asking for time. Then I thought about calling for a stretcher. I really wanted to be airlifted back home, but I thought that would be a little too dramatic. Especially for a softball game.

I manned up, remaining in the game despite my very real desire to curl up into the fetal position and become a mute who only communicated through signing- specifically with my middle finger. The more I stretched it, the more I realized it was just a tweak. This was a horrible fucking turn of events, considering how tweaks aren’t taken seriously the way tears and pulls are. A tweak is like a muscle sneeze. Big whoop.

The game was moving right along and we were down 4-0. Or was it 5-2? Let’s go with 8-1. If you weren’t aware, the Amish and Mennonites take their softball very seriously, and they’re really good at it so there was no shame in losing to them. The fact that they probably thought we were the charity, yeah . . there was shame in that. So I took to praying for a tornado to spare us this reprise of the Bataan Death March when a funny thing happened. We rallied. I singled and scored as we pushed six runs across to make it a ballgame.

In the face of insurmountable odds, we had forged a new destiny through sheer determination and a steadfast belief in each other. The sum of our fledgling parts gave way to a beautiful symmetry of pluck and might and defiance. We took the field as a team now, no longer content to just give them a game. This was our field, this . . was our time. I snatched my glove and jogged to right field as my brain jammed to the theme song from Rocky. 

After which they scored like three runs, maybe five . . let’s go with eight. I pulled my hamstring when I misjudged a fly ball so badly you would’ve sworn I was deathly allergic to leather. We stopped hitting, as if our bats had morphed into Tibetan monks. As the game wore on, we began keeping score (theirs) with Roman numerals . . . and that’s why Rocky is a fucking movie.

To the victors might have gone the spoils, but I got a lot out of those couple hours on the diamond. I was reminded of the joys of a simple game of catch and the rolling banter of a restless bench, and the visceral connection you achieve with the dewy grass as you sweep the outfield grass in giddy anticipation of the batter’s next swing. Most of all, I got pain . . lots of pain.

Next year, I’m just gonna write a check and sleep in.

 

To charity softball games that leave you aching and bitching and most of all, laughing your ass off all the way back home . .

To the lessons you carry with you, the ones that warm you when life gets colder . .

To Tim Tam slams. If you ain’t done it, you gotta . .

To fraps with the most beautiful girl in the world. She will always be that little girl I used to sing to sleep with Stevie Wonder songs . .

To another deep run by the Chicago Blackhawks, the best show on ice . .

To going to see Pitch Perfect not once, but twice. And for not being the least bit ashamed of it . .

To a Father’s Day hike that went away for a while but is coming back for good . .

To Ash. For telling it like it is, every single time. There are friends who tell you what you want to hear, and then there’s Ash. She is my consigliere- a trusted voice who offers wise counsel and a strong presence when the day is giving me nothing . .

To summer. What took you so long? . .

Middle FingerIt’s a sad fact of life that bad things happen to good people all the time, with fresh examples daily. And no, I’m not talking about the fact that Caitlyn Jenner has gone and ruined cougars for eligible young bachelors everywhere.

I’m talking about the marriage of bad things to good people. Like the lovely and talented Mila Kunis being stalked for years by a batshit crazy asshole in a beard (Not the one named Ashton). Or what about the story of Della Curry? A kitchen manager at Dakota Valley Elementary School in Aurora, Colo; Curry abided by the audacity of nope when it came to school policy by giving students a free lunch. She knew the risk she assumed when she did wrong by school policy by doing right for some kids. The school rewarded her amazing deed with a termination notice. And let’s not forget the saddest example of bad things perpetrated on good peeps- Cleveland Browns fans. They haven’t sniffed a Super Bowl since it was created almost fifty years ago. They watched as their team hired Bill Belichick before he was Bill Belichick. They mourned when their team left town, but then it got even worse . . they came back. They have gone through more quarterbacks in the last fifteen years than the Green Bay Packers have gone through, like, forever. After all that shit, what do the Browns gift their long suffering fan base? Yep, college football jerseys. To go along with the play on the field . . .

This isn’t to say that bad things don’t come around for people who suck. I got some examples of that too . . .

The Duggars- Holier than thou met Holy fucking shit when it came to light that Josh Duggar molested his sisters as well as a family friend. After which Mr and Mrs Duggar presumably consulted God- for close to a year and a half- before contacting authorities. Understand, I’m not bashing faith. I am bashing peeps such as the Duggars who profess to have an abundance of it. They possess soooo much faith, in fact, that they become wholesalers; selling it for pennies on the dollar and keeping the change. The only thing these modern day bible merchants love more than proselytizing is profiting. Welp, now comes the hard part for them. Now the Duggars have to answer to a higher power- the media. There are gonna be a bunch of pious in the face moments for these two as more facts come to light. I’m thinking God would’ve been plenty fine if the Duggars would’ve practiced some birth control, but that’s just me.

Sepp Blatter- Hyman Roth was a scumbag gangster who would’ve sold out his lovely wife for a bigger piece of the family pie, and yet he is lovable compared to the former FIFA President. Blatter resigned his post just days after winning re-election when it became evident that the hush fund that had allowed a corruption ridden governing body to do business for too long a time had finally run dry. The Department of Justice isn’t going to let this ass clown slide any longer. This guy is so dirty, even the Swiss want a piece of him. If nothing else, he threw one hell of a party. One story has it that Blatter ensured his re-election in 2011 by ‘hosting’ a party (he wasn’t there, of course) in which a coffee table was stacked with envelopes- each containing forty thousand dollars in cash. Whatever happened to coke, pills and hookers? Anyways, that was only the tip of Blatter’s iceberg-sized balls. The DOJ is looking into myriad allegations of a Presidential tenure that has burned through more than a hundred and fifty million in good money gone bad. His parting gift to soccer fans? Awarding the 2022 World Cup to that champion of humanitarian rights, Quatar.

LeSean McCoy- Okay, maybe he’s not a bad person so much as he is an asshole. How else to describe a guy who claims his former coach was a racist and then proceeds to ‘no comment’ his way out of the hole he dug? Never mind the fact that we’re living in a time where charges of racism carry powder keg potential. Never mind that his former coach, Chip Kelly, has been coaching in the college and pro ranks for twenty five years and he’s, yanno, recruited and signed a ton of black players in that time. Never mind that Chip Kelly replaced McCoy who happens to be black, with another star running back (DeMarco Murrary) who happens to be black. Never mind all that, because LeSean wants us to never mind that. Because in LeSean’s world, you get to say really stupid shit without ever having to be accountable for it. Well, in my world, that makes him a pussy. In the end, McCoy got what was coming to him. He’s relegated to playing out his prime seasons with the Buffalo Bills.

I could go on, but I’m gonna catch me some Stanley Cup. Did you know that the Tampa Bay Lightning ban the sale of tickets to out of state residents? And to make matters stupider, they placed a ban on opposing jerseys in the premium seats? This is what happens when you give Florida a hockey team. They turn it into college basketball.

Here’s hoping the good people of Chicago get down with their bad selves in FLA and flood the good seats should there be a need for a Game 7.

Go ‘Hawks!

SchoolThe best way to show your age? Tell people you pine for the days of proper grammar.

I’m just kidding. You don’t want to use the word ‘pine’ in mixed company unless you’re willing to move off the grid, buy a cabin in Montana and retire to a lifetime of talking to whiskey bottles and having meaningful sex with inanimate objects.

Everyone curses India for being smarter than us and taking our jobs, but that’s only because it’s true. As I watched the Scripps National Spelling Bee the other night, I couldn’t help but feel as if my proper grammar had been kidnapped, held for ransom and then murdered, brutally.

Vanya Shivashankar carved through a list of words that included bouquetiere, thamakau, tantieme, urgrund, myrmotherine, zimocca, hippocrepiform, scacchite and bruxellois. Co-champion, Gokul Venkatachalam, was no less impressive, nailing words like caudillismo, scytale, cypseline, filicite, sprachgefuhl, nixtamal, paroemiology, pipsissewa and pyrrhuloxia.

Spell ’em? I couldn’t even pronounce them! Sitting there, flubbing words I didn’t even know existed with my bag of nachos and a bowl of salsa . . . I felt like a true American. Not the fools who blanketed social media after the Bee wrapped up and railed on about Indian kids hijacking OUR contest, no. Those people are blathering idiots who wouldn’t be able to spell out the letters of the network that aired the Scripps Bee (ESPN). They don’t give a fig about their ABC’s, until they no longer end in USA.

These kids are my heroes, because they get it. They don’t have to have things spelled out for them. Not when they can handle words like scherenschnitte without missing a beat. They appreciate the infinite power of the written word the way most American kids appreciate Taylor Swift’s latest single. That kind of dedication shouldn’t be hated on, it should be celebrated. It should be an expectation, rather than a wish.

Lets Eat GrandmaThe truth is, grammar ain’t proper no more (told ya). It’s a bastardized version of the Canterbury Tales, more intent on pose than prose. The basics have been damned to hell in favor of a grammar whose method is all about instant gratification. Put this way, proper grammar is like tennis. You have lines and rules and sequence. To achieve mastery within this rectangular struggle of Kings and Queens is a legendary exercise in strength, discipline and sheer will. Contemporary grammar . . is handball.

Check out the latest installment of the Merriam Webster Dictionary. Photobomb, emoji and meme are now a part of the American vernacular, which just goes to show that they’ll let anybody in the place. Merriam used to be a classy dame, but now? She’s just a ‘ho. (Yes . . ‘ho is in there too.)

I’m not crying about it (It’s more like a long, agonizing whine, really). Proper grammar had a better run than the San Antonio Spurs or Larry King’s sex life. Plato opened shop on the best ideas of the written word by marrying structure to symbolism and fathering a prodigious boom of timeless pens. From Homer to Alighieri, Shakespeare to Wilde, Rand to Lennon.

Then the internet came along and bludgeoned it.

Cayman’s Dumbed Down History of the Internet

In the late ’60’s, with the escalation of the war in Vietnam and increasing unrest at home, the U.S. Government decided they didn’t have enough shit on their plate. So they went in their tax payer funded garage with the intent of creating a telepathic communications system that would render the Kremlin and the KGB into muppets. After a decade of zero results and billions spent (U.S. Govt translation: Progress), they let the academics have a couple swings at it. Information became data, professors became divorced and cocktail parties became networking events. It was in July of 1987 when some guy in parachute pants and High Tops uttered the famous refrain “Holy fucking shit! This is gonna make us rich!”. By the early nineties, with the commercial possibilities of an uber-connected computer system obvious to anyone with half a brain, Al Gore visited a sperm bank in the middle of the night and nine minutes later, the internet was born. Bill Clinton is considered the crazy uncle of the internet, thanks to his contribution: online porn.

Sadly, grammar in its most exalted form had no place in this brave new computerized world. The internet was a bullet train whose mission was to provide results in the blink of an eye. The pivot points were volume and mass, and all this crazy science experiment did was change the world. So really, the omission of a few rightly placed P’s and Q’s was never going to be as important. Luxuriating in the written word became a quaint trespass. Sorta like watching PBS with the sound up.

Knowing your shitThe thing about the internet, is that it not only tolerates fault, it embraces it. It’s probably the only charming quality it possesses. But inside that organic testimonial lies the inevitable truth that the need for speed killed syntax. Don’t take my word for it, read a circular or a magazine . . hell, even the New York Times- the Church of our Daily Word- has gone rogue, or as they spell it . rouge.

You have a better shot of convincing people that Brad Pitt is a virgin than of talking them into the idea that words should be revered; and as such, they should be buffed and polished to detail. I’m just thankful Oscar Wilde wasn’t alive in the time of emojis. No doubt he would’ve been epic in his use of the things. Problem is, The Importance of Being Earnest probably would’ve been a comic book.

Words, correctly spelled and (this is important) used in context . . they still matter to me. I’m not a stickler about it, just stubborn. Don’t confuse my agonized whine as that of a soulless dictator of words. I don’t need no stinking rules, and I really love to color outside the literary lines. But . . I respect the rules and more than that? I remember a time, not that long ago, when they actually counted for something.

I won’t give up my inner spell check to an app, because I think when you start giving up on the little things, you’ve got no chance with the big picture. Words matter to me, because words are times and places to me. They remind me of spelling bees, glass bottles, first kisses, Stevie Wonder and summer days that promised more of that good thing.

The written word isn’t asking me to be perfect. It’s just asking me to give a shit enough to try.

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