Writer’s Make Mistakes, Too or Call Me Dink

With the hectic schedule of the end of the year and the added pressure of renewing advertising contracts for both the Peninsula Pulse and Door County Living magazine, I am re-printing a column that originally ran in January of 1999 in the pages of the Door Reminder. As you will see, I made a particularly egregious grammatical error in the previous week’s column 15 years ago and I was taken to tack by all manner of individuals in the ensuing days.

In last week’s column I erred (pronounced with a particularly distinct guttural growl). Indeed, not only did I goof, I made the same goof twice.

So allow me to tell you about some events following the publication of last week’s column. I should tell you that the following did not happen. This fact does not change the validity of what I am about to write, however, nor does it mean that these events couldn’t have happened. Indeed, they may as well have happened.

The Time: Wednesday Morning, approximately 7:30 am

The Place: The bathroom of our house.

The Setting: Having just loosened my joints and washed the sleep from my brain in a scalding shower, I am sitting on the toilet operating on a particularly stubborn piece of cuticle located on the big toe of my right foot. Various implements for such a procedure are arrayed on the sink counter adjacent to where I sit. I am deep in concentration.

ENTER Andrew, approximately 44” tall, weighing almost 46 pounds, still in his pajamas despite my early urging to get dressed.

Andrew (in a tone that is a mix of mockery and scolding): Dad, you dink!

Me: What did I do now?

Andrew: Your column.

Me: You didn’t like what I wrote?

Andrew: You wrote it wrong.

Me (looking up for the first time, while still holding a probe in my right hand): Pardon me?

Andrew: It’s not “Barb and I”! You should have wrote “Barb and me.” You dink.

Me (partly ashamed and equally annoyed): Oh. I’m sorry. (Andrew turns to leave, but I continue). By the way, Andrew, it’s not “should have wrote,” it’s “should have written.”

Andrew (continuing out the door): Dink. Dink. Dink. Dink. Dink.

The Time: Wednesday evening, approximately 6:30 pm

The Place: The living room of our house.

The Setting: Andrew and I are on the floor having just completed a third game of Candyland. He is upset because I have just won three games in a row in a little more than 10 minutes. I am trying to explain that Candyland involves nothing more than luck and that since he annihilated me earlier in Memory, a game that requires a great deal of skill and concentration, he should be proud rather than upset. Andrew is inconsolable. The phone rings and I welcome the interruption. It’s my daughter Molly calling from Bloomingdale.

Molly: Hi, Daddy.

Me (Rising from the floor to the couch.): Hi, Sweetheart. What a nice surprise. What’s up?

Molly: Guess what Dad.

Me (Battling with Andrew who now, having realized that Molly is on the phone, is attempting to wrest the receiver from my hand): I don’t know, kiddo. Tell me.

Molly: I got extra credit in English class today.

Me (Holding Andrew at arm’s length which he delights in struggling against.): So how did that happen.

Molly: Well, I printed out your column that you emailed me. We’ve been talking about proper pronoun use in English class and I showed your column to my teacher and she said it was an excellent example of how not to use pronouns. So I got extra credit.

Me (feeling extraordinarily sheepish): Gee, Molly, that’s wonderful. Here’s Andrew.

The Time: Thursday, approximately 4:30 pm

The Place: The Bookstore

The Setting: I have just made a fresh pot of coffee and am sitting down behind the counter to try my hand at a game of FreeCell on the computer. The phone rings. It is my nephew, Taylor.

Taylor: Uncle Dave [Note: the short explanation for calling me Dave is that Taylor has two “Uncle Steves”], when you don’t know whether to use me or I try putting the pronoun at the front of the sentence. That way you won’t goof up. You even wrote about that once in one of your columns.

Me: You’re right, of course, Taylor. But what about Antonio’s line in The Merchant of Venice where Shakespeare writes, “All debts are clear’d between you and I, if I might but see you at my death.”

Taylor: You’re not Shakespeare, Uncle Dave.

Erin (my niece, who unbeknownst to me is on the other line at my sister’s house and has been listening to the conversation): No, Uncle Dave. You’re a dink, just like Andrew says.

The Time: Thursday evening, approximately 7:30 pm

The Place: One end of the living room in our house.

The Setting: Feeling properly humbled by recent events, I am sitting at the computer doing bookkeeping work for the store when the phone rings. This time it is my nephew, Joshua, the eldest (11 years of age) of my sister Alison’s boys.

Joshua: Uncle Steve, I just read your newest column and I saw that you…

Me (interrupting): I already know, Josh. I wrote Barb and I when I should have written Barb and me.

Joshua (after a short pause): Do they [the Door Reminder] pay you for your columns?

Me: Yes, Josh, they do.

Joshua: Do they pay you even when you make stupid mistakes?

Me: I guess that depends on the mistake.

Joshua: Did they pay you for this column?

Me: Yes, they did.

Joshua (this time after a longer pause): Maybe you should give the money back.

Well, folks, despite the suggestion, I’m not going to give the money back. After this past week, however, I am seriously considering changing my Internet alias to “Dink.”