Category Archives: Best of the Blog

She got what she deserved.

What’s the worst thing that could happen to someone who uses bad grammar?

A low grade on a paper?  A mocking post on this blog?  A scolding from a nearby grammarian?

Oh, it could be worse.  You could find yourself face to face with James Westfall and Dr. Kenneth Noisewater.

This is my new favorite entry on my new favorite Web site, fmylife.com:

Today, I was flirting via text with a coworker. Things started getting heated, and I wanted to send her a sexy picture. I asked if she had any suggestions. She said, “Your nuts!” She meant, “YOU’RE nuts.” I sent her a photo of my junk. I offended a co-worker with incriminating evidence. FML

Okay.  We know this guy isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.  Anyone knows you don’t send naked pictures to someone you barely know.  And I’m going to assume that these two people are over the age of 18, because if not, that’s a different issue altogether.  Assuming they both are above the age of consent,

That girl got exactly what she deserved.

She mixed up “your” and “you’re” and thus was blinded with an image of the least attractive part of the male anatomy, an image that will likely stick in her mind for quite a long time.

It’s kind of like shock therapy, don’t you think?

(And, for the record, I feel like I need to say this to clueless straight guys of the world: No girl in her right mind will ever ask you for a picture of your nuts if she wants to be turned on.  ANY other body part is understandable — NEVER the nuts.  If she does, that’s a red flag.  She’ll probably be forwarding it to her friends and laughing at you.)

What do you think?  Did this girl get what she deserved?

This is sublime.

This is one of my favorite reader submissions ever. In fact, I love this so much, I think I’m going to mark it under “Best of the Blog.”

I know that there are a lot of people out there who adore Wal-Mart — one of my best friends, Alexa, is one of them. Personally, I’m ambivalent about them — the prices are great, but the stores are messy and they always have a weird smell. Like popcorn, but worse.

Anyway, reader Marimba sent me this gem of an image from Wal-Mart. This was emailed to him from a friend who got it from her sister who got it from a friend who got it from a former co-worker….

Here is what it said:

HI… Had to share this. IT’s real. From a former co-worker in one of The Commercial Appeal bureaus. Read the message below, then open the pic.

Check out this cake. Chad said they ordered it from Walmart and told them to write “Best Wishes Suzanne” and then underneath that “We will Miss You.”
Look at what they did.
All I have to say is stay in school.

This is beyond priceless. Thank you so much for sharing, Marimba. I love this!
In other news, I just received my first paycheck for creating educational grammar materials for a big company in Boston. I’ve been freelance editing for a while, but this one, in particular, means a lot to me. I’m happy.
Enjoy your Halloween weekend, everyone!

TheGrammarVandal.com: A Full Feature in the Boston Sunday Globe!

The story is FANTASTIC, and the writer, Danielle Dreilinger, did such a great job. THANK YOU, DANIELLE!

If it’s still Sunday by the time you read this, go buy a copy of the Globe if you live in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge or Somerville! It’s in the City Weekly section.

Here is the story, taken directly from boston.com:

Stop sign travesties!

Self-proclaimed “grammar vandal” goes after public mistakes that grate

By Danielle Dreilinger, Globe Correspondent July 15, 2007

The ads said “run easy,” but they made Kate McCulley’s teeth clench.

The 22-year-old grammarian stared at Reebok’s Marathon-themed posters on her commute from Somerville to Fort Point this spring, on her way to her job as a research assistant at a concierge services company. “RUN EASY BOSTON,” the ads announced, inviting locals to . . . do what?

The question began to haunt her.

“Should I run an easy Boston? Should I run, and is Boston a promiscuous city?” she riffed on her travel blog, katesadventures.com. Her conclusion: “Without punctuation, we have nothing.”

It didn’t help her mood that she was reading “Eats, Shoots & Leaves,” the best-selling book about grammar that tickles readers with its gentle wit but hits hard about the sorry state of language usage. Her copy included a packet of punctuation stickers as a do-it-yourself correction kit.

The Reebok sign should have read “run easily,” McCulley observed, and it should have had a comma after “easily,” before “Boston.”

(Grammar note: “Easy” is an adjective, which must never be used to describe a verb, such as “run”; that task calls for the adverb “easily.” A sentence addressing someone directly, such as “Run easily,” must separate that address from the party being addressed — in this case, Boston — with a comma.)

On May 29, a memorable date for its linguistic personal import, McCulley cracked. The mild-mannered blogger ducked inside (well, next to) a bus shelter on Summer Street by South Station, pulled out her handy sheet of comma stickers, and made one small correction:”RUN EASY, BOSTON.”

She had become the Grammar Vandal.

McCulley’s credentials? She’s an aspiring writer who majored in English in college and grew up loving to read and spell. Her reference book? “Most of what I go by is instinct,” she said, though she holds the “Associated Press Stylebook” close to her heart.

In the week after McCulley’s small act of rebellion, Buzzfeed.com, a blog that tracks hot Web topics, chose her as a top “grammar Nazi” blogger. People reposted the item on the popular Newsvine blog.

McCulley realized some people did care about language — enough for her to start a new blog, www.thegrammarvandal.com.

The Reebok ad has since disappeared, but the comma remains on the bus shelter, a vestige of the beginnings of McCulley’s crusade around Boston for truth, usage, and the grammatical way.McCulley has always noticed grammar errors, she said. The only difference is that now when she sees one, “I take a picture and post it on my blog,” she said.

It’s a question of standards. “It’s as if we’ve resigned ourselves” to errors, she said. “Are we giving up everything to LOL and BRB?” (That’s “laugh out loud” and “be right back,” for those who are completely out of it.) She does use “LOL” in text messages but takes the extra time to tap correct grammar into that tiny keypad. “Twice as long, twice as right!” she chirps.

McCulley seems completely unfazed by the responsibility she’s taken upon herself. She’ll debate finer points: Should Boston RealtyNet hyphenate “full service”? And she admits even she can’t be perfect. Several responses to her original vandalism blog post ing criticized its grammar. She considered the points “debatable.”

Nothing is immune to the Grammar Vandal’s keen eye, not even the blue T-shirt she wore on a recent walk to point out grammar errors along Newbury Street. McCulley couldn’t possibly walk around wearing a shirt saying “Without Me Its Just Aweso.” So she took a Sharpie to the shirt, adding a comma after “me” and an apostrophe to “it’s.”

“Of course, I’m obsessive,” she said.

On her walk around Back Bay, the grammar vigilante’s judgments were sure and steady. Though Newbury Street is considered among the classiest of thoroughfares in an educated city, its signs are riddled with errors.

Newbury Visions riled McCulley with its sign for “eye exams contact lenses.” As with the Reebok ad, the she felt the sign cried out for separation between its elements.

Another peeve surfaced several blocks down, at the Boloco restaurant. ” ‘Everyday’ can be one word, but only as an adjective meaning ‘usual’ or ‘typical,’ ” McCulley explained, not “each day.” Boloco’s sign almost certainly didn’t mean to say its “breakfast burritos” are ordinary, but that they are on the menu daily.

Still, why worry when people probably understand from the sign that they can get a daily fix of tasty burritos at Boloco, or recognize the phrases “eye exams” and “contact lenses?”
McCulley bristled at the question. “Getting the idea across is the very basic, the minimum,” she said.

Continuing down Newbury, McCulley pointed out a discrepancy between “Alexanders” and “Alexander’s” on a beauty parlor (the possessive apostrophe is needed, unless the shop is for more than one Alexander). Questioned later, store manager Lourdes Lopez said the proper spelling of the salon is actually “Alexander’s,” after the original owner.

McCulley judged Avante Gard Medical Spa’s name plain “wrong.” (Should be “Avant-Garde.”) She allowed the period at the end of “Betsey Johnson.” to stand, though, citing “artistic license.”A very few stores earned gold stars. BeBe Nail & Skin Salon hyphenated “walk-ins.” Co So Artists’ Gallery formed the plural possessive correctly. “That is all too rare these days,” McCulley said. “It’s perfect!”

What really got McCulley’s goat wasn’t an error here or there by a single person but mistakes made by businesses. Shouldn’t they have editors to check ads and signs? She paused in front of the Madura linens store at the corner of Dartmouth and Newbury streets and pointed out a shiny, printed sign advertising a sale “On marked items only, while supplies last curent prices.” (Proper spelling: current; comma needed after “last.”)

Store manager Victoria Whitney sighed when asked about the sign. Madura is a French company, she said, and the sign was custom-made in France. By the time it arrived here, it was too late to fix the error.

The worst offender in all of Boston, according to the Vandal: Lush, a purveyor of earthy-yet-expensive soaps and cosmetics. McCulley directed a reporter to peek through the window at a blackboard inside. It read:

‘HAVE FUN THIS IS AN ADULT CANDY STORE.’

McCulley could hardly contain her disdain. “Have fun, exclamation point; this is an adult candy store, period,” she said.

All along the walk, the Vandal watched for opportunities to use her trusty comma stickers (which conveniently double as apostrophes). She couldn’t reach the Alexanders sign unless she hung off a stairway. The Madura sign was behind glass. McCulley knelt and drew a connecting bracket on a CVS placard announcing openings for “over night” staff, making it into a single word.

Finally she zeroed in the European Watch Co. The sign was accessible. The store was closed. And the sign read “New Pre-Owned Vintage.” It was her pet bugaboo: the missing comma.McCulley climbed up on the stone ledge and quietly adjusted the phrase as oblivious shoppers walked by. She stood back and admired the sign, which now said “New, Pre-Owned, Vintage.”

“There you go,” she said. “That is beautiful.”

That beauty might be fleeting. When alerted to the fix, manager Albert Ganjei noticed the black stickers didn’t match the white text. He might order some white commas, he said.

But the life of a Grammar Vandal can be lonely. Some friends “have stopped sending me e-mails for fear I will correct them,” she said. One acquaintance followed an e-mail to her calling Mitt Romney’s sons “hott” with a second message explaining she was purposely adding the second “t” to emphasize the hotness of the young men. The postscript made McCulley feel “like a monster!” she said.

Hence the blog, where she hopes to find like-minded souls.

If one passer by learns how to use a comma from her edits, McCulley said, “then I think my job is” — she paused and corrected herself — “well, not done.”

PHOTO GALLERY: The ‘grammar vandal’

TheGrammarVandal.com: A Full Feature in the Boston Sunday Globe!

The story is FANTASTIC, and the writer, Danielle Dreilinger, did such a great job. THANK YOU, DANIELLE!

If it’s still Sunday by the time you read this, go buy a copy of the Globe if you live in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge or Somerville! It’s in the City Weekly section.

Here is the story, taken directly from boston.com:

Stop sign travesties!

Self-proclaimed “grammar vandal” goes after public mistakes that grate

By Danielle Dreilinger, Globe Correspondent July 15, 2007

The ads said “run easy,” but they made Kate McCulley’s teeth clench.

The 22-year-old grammarian stared at Reebok’s Marathon-themed posters on her commute from Somerville to Fort Point this spring, on her way to her job as a research assistant at a concierge services company. “RUN EASY BOSTON,” the ads announced, inviting locals to . . . do what?

The question began to haunt her.

“Should I run an easy Boston? Should I run, and is Boston a promiscuous city?” she riffed on her travel blog, katesadventures.com. Her conclusion: “Without punctuation, we have nothing.”

It didn’t help her mood that she was reading “Eats, Shoots & Leaves,” the best-selling book about grammar that tickles readers with its gentle wit but hits hard about the sorry state of language usage. Her copy included a packet of punctuation stickers as a do-it-yourself correction kit.

The Reebok sign should have read “run easily,” McCulley observed, and it should have had a comma after “easily,” before “Boston.”

(Grammar note: “Easy” is an adjective, which must never be used to describe a verb, such as “run”; that task calls for the adverb “easily.” A sentence addressing someone directly, such as “Run easily,” must separate that address from the party being addressed — in this case, Boston — with a comma.)

On May 29, a memorable date for its linguistic personal import, McCulley cracked. The mild-mannered blogger ducked inside (well, next to) a bus shelter on Summer Street by South Station, pulled out her handy sheet of comma stickers, and made one small correction:”RUN EASY, BOSTON.”

She had become the Grammar Vandal.

McCulley’s credentials? She’s an aspiring writer who majored in English in college and grew up loving to read and spell. Her reference book? “Most of what I go by is instinct,” she said, though she holds the “Associated Press Stylebook” close to her heart.

In the week after McCulley’s small act of rebellion, Buzzfeed.com, a blog that tracks hot Web topics, chose her as a top “grammar Nazi” blogger. People reposted the item on the popular Newsvine blog.

McCulley realized some people did care about language — enough for her to start a new blog, www.thegrammarvandal.com.

The Reebok ad has since disappeared, but the comma remains on the bus shelter, a vestige of the beginnings of McCulley’s crusade around Boston for truth, usage, and the grammatical way.McCulley has always noticed grammar errors, she said. The only difference is that now when she sees one, “I take a picture and post it on my blog,” she said.

It’s a question of standards. “It’s as if we’ve resigned ourselves” to errors, she said. “Are we giving up everything to LOL and BRB?” (That’s “laugh out loud” and “be right back,” for those who are completely out of it.) She does use “LOL” in text messages but takes the extra time to tap correct grammar into that tiny keypad. “Twice as long, twice as right!” she chirps.

McCulley seems completely unfazed by the responsibility she’s taken upon herself. She’ll debate finer points: Should Boston RealtyNet hyphenate “full service”? And she admits even she can’t be perfect. Several responses to her original vandalism blog post ing criticized its grammar. She considered the points “debatable.”

Nothing is immune to the Grammar Vandal’s keen eye, not even the blue T-shirt she wore on a recent walk to point out grammar errors along Newbury Street. McCulley couldn’t possibly walk around wearing a shirt saying “Without Me Its Just Aweso.” So she took a Sharpie to the shirt, adding a comma after “me” and an apostrophe to “it’s.”

“Of course, I’m obsessive,” she said.

On her walk around Back Bay, the grammar vigilante’s judgments were sure and steady. Though Newbury Street is considered among the classiest of thoroughfares in an educated city, its signs are riddled with errors.

Newbury Visions riled McCulley with its sign for “eye exams contact lenses.” As with the Reebok ad, the she felt the sign cried out for separation between its elements.

Another peeve surfaced several blocks down, at the Boloco restaurant. ” ‘Everyday’ can be one word, but only as an adjective meaning ‘usual’ or ‘typical,’ ” McCulley explained, not “each day.” Boloco’s sign almost certainly didn’t mean to say its “breakfast burritos” are ordinary, but that they are on the menu daily.

Still, why worry when people probably understand from the sign that they can get a daily fix of tasty burritos at Boloco, or recognize the phrases “eye exams” and “contact lenses?”
McCulley bristled at the question. “Getting the idea across is the very basic, the minimum,” she said.

Continuing down Newbury, McCulley pointed out a discrepancy between “Alexanders” and “Alexander’s” on a beauty parlor (the possessive apostrophe is needed, unless the shop is for more than one Alexander). Questioned later, store manager Lourdes Lopez said the proper spelling of the salon is actually “Alexander’s,” after the original owner.

McCulley judged Avante Gard Medical Spa’s name plain “wrong.” (Should be “Avant-Garde.”) She allowed the period at the end of “Betsey Johnson.” to stand, though, citing “artistic license.”A very few stores earned gold stars. BeBe Nail & Skin Salon hyphenated “walk-ins.” Co So Artists’ Gallery formed the plural possessive correctly. “That is all too rare these days,” McCulley said. “It’s perfect!”

What really got McCulley’s goat wasn’t an error here or there by a single person but mistakes made by businesses. Shouldn’t they have editors to check ads and signs? She paused in front of the Madura linens store at the corner of Dartmouth and Newbury streets and pointed out a shiny, printed sign advertising a sale “On marked items only, while supplies last curent prices.” (Proper spelling: current; comma needed after “last.”)

Store manager Victoria Whitney sighed when asked about the sign. Madura is a French company, she said, and the sign was custom-made in France. By the time it arrived here, it was too late to fix the error.

The worst offender in all of Boston, according to the Vandal: Lush, a purveyor of earthy-yet-expensive soaps and cosmetics. McCulley directed a reporter to peek through the window at a blackboard inside. It read:

‘HAVE FUN THIS IS AN ADULT CANDY STORE.’

McCulley could hardly contain her disdain. “Have fun, exclamation point; this is an adult candy store, period,” she said.

All along the walk, the Vandal watched for opportunities to use her trusty comma stickers (which conveniently double as apostrophes). She couldn’t reach the Alexanders sign unless she hung off a stairway. The Madura sign was behind glass. McCulley knelt and drew a connecting bracket on a CVS placard announcing openings for “over night” staff, making it into a single word.

Finally she zeroed in the European Watch Co. The sign was accessible. The store was closed. And the sign read “New Pre-Owned Vintage.” It was her pet bugaboo: the missing comma.McCulley climbed up on the stone ledge and quietly adjusted the phrase as oblivious shoppers walked by. She stood back and admired the sign, which now said “New, Pre-Owned, Vintage.”

“There you go,” she said. “That is beautiful.”

That beauty might be fleeting. When alerted to the fix, manager Albert Ganjei noticed the black stickers didn’t match the white text. He might order some white commas, he said.

But the life of a Grammar Vandal can be lonely. Some friends “have stopped sending me e-mails for fear I will correct them,” she said. One acquaintance followed an e-mail to her calling Mitt Romney’s sons “hott” with a second message explaining she was purposely adding the second “t” to emphasize the hotness of the young men. The postscript made McCulley feel “like a monster!” she said.

Hence the blog, where she hopes to find like-minded souls.

If one passer by learns how to use a comma from her edits, McCulley said, “then I think my job is” — she paused and corrected herself — “well, not done.”

PHOTO GALLERY: The ‘grammar vandal’

Now I’m a Grammar Criminal, Evidently

I just had my first brush with the law for the sake of grammar! I’m proud that it happened so soon.

I’ve been taking some wonderful long walks lately. I go by Tufts sometimes, and the sign for “Professors Row” has always bothered me. This is the row of the professors, therefore it should be Professors’ Row.

Do you think an apostrophe was in place?

Please.

Anyways, I originally went up there to change the sign yesterday, but realized that I was far too short to do so. I had also misplaced my comma stickers, so there really was no point. I went back today with a folding chair (I couldn’t find my stepladder) and my five-inch platform slides, and I had found my packet of punctuation stickers.

I tried to reach it, and I was about three inches too short to reach the sign. Hmmmm. Clearly, I would need to find someone to help me.

That area of town isn’t short on walkers, so I grabbed the first guy I saw. He was about thirty, bald and perhaps 6’2″ or so.

Me: “Hi! I was wondering if you could help me with something. I need to get a sticker up there. I’m too short, even with these.”

I show him my platform slides. He looks at me skeptically.

Me: “I actually run a grammar blog — it’s thegrammarvandal.com. It’s a great blog, really. I go around and correct grammar. The Globe is doing a feature on it this week. It’s great stuff.”

He stares.

Me: “You see that sign? Professors Row is missing an apostrophe. Could you just help me put it up there? I’ve got that chair right over there.”

Guy: “Sure.”

Me: “Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate it.”

Guy comes over and stands on the chair. He can reach the sign — and he starts putting the apostrophe between the R and the S in Professors!!

Me (shrieking): “NO! NO! YOU CAN’T DO THAT!! THAT’S NOT WHERE THE APOSTROPHE GOES!! THIS IS THE ROW OF THE PROFESSORSSSSSSSSS!”

Guy: “Oh, sorry. What do I do?”

Me: “AFTER THE S! AFTER THE S!”

He pulls it off and sticks it on the end. It’s flimsy and part of the black has come off, making it look messy. I do not like messy. It looks terrible. I’m going to ask him to rip it off and put on a new one instead….

And then a police cruiser stops, the words Tufts Police emblazoned on one side. (Side thought: I wonder how many years it will be before Fairfield decides to change its name from Public Safety to Fairfield University Police, spending another few grand in a pointless fashion.)

Cop (yelling): “What are you doing?”

Me: “Just fixing the sign.”

Cop: “What are you doing to it?!”

Me: “Officer, this is incorrect grammar. Oh, and I don’t even know this guy! I pulled him off the street!”

Guy looks more terrified than the average man when confronted by a cop in a Tufts Police cruiser.

Cop: “Are you together?”

Me: “No! He was on the street! And tall! I’m too short to reach the sign!”

Guy jumps on the chair, pulls the sticker off, and hands it to me.

Guy: “Sorry.”

Guy takes off like a bat out of hell.

Me: “Officer, I was just trying to correct the sign. Don’t you see that an apostrophe is missing?”

Cop: “Yeah, before the S?”

Me: “NO! Not before the S! We’re not talking about one professor here! This is the row of multiple professors, meaning that the apostrophe should be AFTER the S! Let me tell you about the blog. It’s called thegrammarvandal.com, and the Boston Globe will be doing a feature on it that will appear in the City Weekly section this Sunday….”

Cop: “Okay, okay.”

Me: “I just need to fix it. Now my tall guy is gone.”

Cop: “Well, I hope you find another one.”

Cop drives away.

I walk around and look for somebody else who is significantly taller than me. There are fewer walkers by now. There’s a baseball game going on in the field, but only three girls are watching, and they all seem to be short.

I walk around for a few minutes, then see three college-aged students — two guys and a girl — who each appear to be around six feet tall. I wave to them.

Me: “Hi, I was wondering if you guys could help me. I’m in need of a tall person who can help me put a sticker up on a sign.”

They stare.

Me: “I run a grammar blog. It’s called thegrammarvandal.com, and the Boston Sunday Globe is doing a feature on it that will be appearing this Sunday in the City Weekly section. I go around and I correct grammar errors. You see that sign for Professors Row? It’s missing an apostrophe. Is there any way you could help me?”

Cool Guy: “Sure.”

Me: “I appreciate this so much. Thank you. It’s that sign up there — the one with the chair perched next to it. A cop stopped me earlier, but don’t worry. He’s gone now.”

They stare.

Me: “Yeah, he said I could do it, as long as I had another tall guy. You should have seen the guy who helped me before — he got so scared, he ran away! Ha. But it’s cool, since the cop said so. Good times.”

We walk.

Me: “It drives me crazy that the apostrophe isn’t there.”

Cool Guy’s Male Friend: “Yeah, between the R and the S, right?”

Me: “No!! This is the row of the PROFESSORS! Multiple professors! The apostrophe goes AFTER the S!”

Cool Guy’s Male Friend retreats, probably thinking that I’m some kind of psycho. We eventually get to the sign.

Cool Guy: “So right after the S?”

Me: “Yes, right after the S. That would be perfect. Thank you so much, again.”

Cool Guy puts the sticker up. It’s a bit askew, and it’s not facing the direction that gets the most traffic, but I don’t care. I’m not going to ask him to put it on the other side, too, even though it will continue to drive me crazy. He has to work to get the sticker up, and he’s done enough.

The end result:


Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

And, just so you can see how tall this sign was:

What a day. I’m exhausted from all the effort. But I’ve made another difference, and I am educating the general populace about grammar. Even if nobody ever sees it, I still gave a lesson in grammar to Guy, Cop, Cool Guy, Cool Guy’s Male Friend and possibly Cool Guy’s Female Friend (even though she said nothing the whole time). I hope that everyone goes on to use apostrophes appropriately in their respective lives.

If Cool Guy is reading this, thanks for the help, man!

Now I’m a Grammar Criminal, Evidently

I just had my first brush with the law for the sake of grammar! I’m proud that it happened so soon.

I’ve been taking some wonderful long walks lately. I go by Tufts sometimes, and the sign for “Professors Row” has always bothered me. This is the row of the professors, therefore it should be Professors’ Row.

Do you think an apostrophe was in place?

Please.

Anyways, I originally went up there to change the sign yesterday, but realized that I was far too short to do so. I had also misplaced my comma stickers, so there really was no point. I went back today with a folding chair (I couldn’t find my stepladder) and my five-inch platform slides, and I had found my packet of punctuation stickers.

I tried to reach it, and I was about three inches too short to reach the sign. Hmmmm. Clearly, I would need to find someone to help me.

That area of town isn’t short on walkers, so I grabbed the first guy I saw. He was about thirty, bald and perhaps 6’2″ or so.

Me: “Hi! I was wondering if you could help me with something. I need to get a sticker up there. I’m too short, even with these.”

I show him my platform slides. He looks at me skeptically.

Me: “I actually run a grammar blog — it’s thegrammarvandal.com. It’s a great blog, really. I go around and correct grammar. The Globe is doing a feature on it this week. It’s great stuff.”

He stares.

Me: “You see that sign? Professors Row is missing an apostrophe. Could you just help me put it up there? I’ve got that chair right over there.”

Guy: “Sure.”

Me: “Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate it.”

Guy comes over and stands on the chair. He can reach the sign — and he starts putting the apostrophe between the R and the S in Professors!!

Me (shrieking): “NO! NO! YOU CAN’T DO THAT!! THAT’S NOT WHERE THE APOSTROPHE GOES!! THIS IS THE ROW OF THE PROFESSORSSSSSSSSS!”

Guy: “Oh, sorry. What do I do?”

Me: “AFTER THE S! AFTER THE S!”

He pulls it off and sticks it on the end. It’s flimsy and part of the black has come off, making it look messy. I do not like messy. It looks terrible. I’m going to ask him to rip it off and put on a new one instead….

And then a police cruiser stops, the words Tufts Police emblazoned on one side. (Side thought: I wonder how many years it will be before Fairfield decides to change its name from Public Safety to Fairfield University Police, spending another few grand in a pointless fashion.)

Cop (yelling): “What are you doing?”

Me: “Just fixing the sign.”

Cop: “What are you doing to it?!”

Me: “Officer, this is incorrect grammar. Oh, and I don’t even know this guy! I pulled him off the street!”

Guy looks more terrified than the average man when confronted by a cop in a Tufts Police cruiser.

Cop: “Are you together?”

Me: “No! He was on the street! And tall! I’m too short to reach the sign!”

Guy jumps on the chair, pulls the sticker off, and hands it to me.

Guy: “Sorry.”

Guy takes off like a bat out of hell.

Me: “Officer, I was just trying to correct the sign. Don’t you see that an apostrophe is missing?”

Cop: “Yeah, before the S?”

Me: “NO! Not before the S! We’re not talking about one professor here! This is the row of multiple professors, meaning that the apostrophe should be AFTER the S! Let me tell you about the blog. It’s called thegrammarvandal.com, and the Boston Globe will be doing a feature on it that will appear in the City Weekly section this Sunday….”

Cop: “Okay, okay.”

Me: “I just need to fix it. Now my tall guy is gone.”

Cop: “Well, I hope you find another one.”

Cop drives away.

I walk around and look for somebody else who is significantly taller than me. There are fewer walkers by now. There’s a baseball game going on in the field, but only three girls are watching, and they all seem to be short.

I walk around for a few minutes, then see three college-aged students — two guys and a girl — who each appear to be around six feet tall. I wave to them.

Me: “Hi, I was wondering if you guys could help me. I’m in need of a tall person who can help me put a sticker up on a sign.”

They stare.

Me: “I run a grammar blog. It’s called thegrammarvandal.com, and the Boston Sunday Globe is doing a feature on it that will be appearing this Sunday in the City Weekly section. I go around and I correct grammar errors. You see that sign for Professors Row? It’s missing an apostrophe. Is there any way you could help me?”

Cool Guy: “Sure.”

Me: “I appreciate this so much. Thank you. It’s that sign up there — the one with the chair perched next to it. A cop stopped me earlier, but don’t worry. He’s gone now.”

They stare.

Me: “Yeah, he said I could do it, as long as I had another tall guy. You should have seen the guy who helped me before — he got so scared, he ran away! Ha. But it’s cool, since the cop said so. Good times.”

We walk.

Me: “It drives me crazy that the apostrophe isn’t there.”

Cool Guy’s Male Friend: “Yeah, between the R and the S, right?”

Me: “No!! This is the row of the PROFESSORS! Multiple professors! The apostrophe goes AFTER the S!”

Cool Guy’s Male Friend retreats, probably thinking that I’m some kind of psycho. We eventually get to the sign.

Cool Guy: “So right after the S?”

Me: “Yes, right after the S. That would be perfect. Thank you so much, again.”

Cool Guy puts the sticker up. It’s a bit askew, and it’s not facing the direction that gets the most traffic, but I don’t care. I’m not going to ask him to put it on the other side, too, even though it will continue to drive me crazy. He has to work to get the sticker up, and he’s done enough.

The end result:


Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

And, just so you can see how tall this sign was:

What a day. I’m exhausted from all the effort. But I’ve made another difference, and I am educating the general populace about grammar. Even if nobody ever sees it, I still gave a lesson in grammar to Guy, Cop, Cool Guy, Cool Guy’s Male Friend and possibly Cool Guy’s Female Friend (even though she said nothing the whole time). I hope that everyone goes on to use apostrophes appropriately in their respective lives.

If Cool Guy is reading this, thanks for the help, man!