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Baby, We Were Born to Run-On
Aug 9th, 2009 by Christina

I was so busted this weekend. october_27_054

I went to a delightful gathering of a few of my writer pals at the Jersey shore, which was great fun. We all seem to agree that the English language is increasingly abused and disrespected, that journalism is the new blacksmithing, and that anyone who thinks it’s ok to use a lower-case I to refer to one’s self probably has a personality disorder–because there is no other satisfactory explanation.

The five of us literary ladies were strolling along the beach, ranting about how hard life has become for we who still respect the rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation. (Also, we tried to pretend that we were down at the shore or down by the shore, rather than just down the shore, which is the vexing phrase people on the East Coast use when they visit New Jersey beach towns.)

I chimed in with my horror stories about the many incoherent online-dating profiles I’ve faced, and my friends agreed that poorly-written profiles are unacceptable. (Turns out we’re not the only ones who feel this way. Check it out: Do the Typos in Your Profile Spell Disaster?)

Later, during cocktail hour at Gwen’s house, my four very-married friends wanted to read my one very-unmarried online dating profile. So I brought it up on Gwen’s laptop–which was nestled on the table between the Chex mix and the guacamole– and the girls gathered ‘round.

I fear I shall never forget what happened next.

“You forgot an apostrophe,” said Jen casually.
“Ha ha–nice try, Jen. Good one. You’re funny,” I responded.
“You really did,” she repeated drily.

That’s when I turned into an over-tired four-year-old.

“No WAY! I did not! I did NOT!” I shouted.

“Um, yep–you did. See?”

And that’s when I realized that she was right. The word “let’s” was staring back at me on the screen, naked and un-apostrophized. I felt like a sham.

“I can’t believe I did that! I cannot believe I did that! How could I do that? How? I mean, I am so fanatical about not making those kinds of errors and look–I made one. I made one!”

The girls helped me over to a chair, forced a glass of wine into my fist, and pretended that we all make typos sometimes, that it’s not a big deal, and that of course they know I don’t really think you write “let’s” without the apostrophe. Silly me.

Now I can’t decide if I should fix the mistake in my profile, or leave it there and wait, fairy-tale-style, for my Prince Charming to come along and correct it.

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Ex-Rings and Other Stuff
May 19th, 2009 by Christina

I’m taking a short break from the dating chronicles (can you stand the suspense?) in order to address a couple of housekeeping matters–those little changes that come with everyday life here in Splitsville that may seem incidental, but are in fact huge, pervasive and defining (see soy milk incident.)

The first of these dilemmas is: how should I refer to R now? We’re not officially divorced yet, so “ex-husband” doesn’t seem legit. Plus, I’ve always bristled at the term “ex,” which strikes me as pejorative. R is technically still my husband, but then again, not so much, so that title doesn’t fly anymore. Identifying him as “the girls’ father” or explaining that “they’re with their dad” works, even though it makes me feel kind of like a farm animal used for breeding purposes.

In her book The Good Divorce, Constance Ahrons, Ph.D., bemoans the fact that in this day and age there is no better word to describe someone with whom you may have had children and/or a long, meaningful relationship. She chooses to drop the hyphen as a way to make the “ex” component less rejecting, but I’m not sure I get the point of that. Isn’t exhusband pronounced exactly like “ex-husband?”

There’s also “wasband,” which is clever, and “hasbeend,” which is trying too hard. For now, I’m just calling him R.

Dilemma number two: What do I with my rings and other marriage memorabilia? At the moment, the rings are safely tucked in the cute gray suede boxes from whence they came (good thing I saved those, huh?).

With divorce so common these days, a cottage industry has even sprung up to deal with the cast-off rings. Some jewelers cut a chunk out of wedding bands to represent the fractured marriage, and I’ve heard of divorce rituals where people smash their rings with a sledgehammer and then have the resulting precious-metal blob fashioned into a new piece of jewelry. I’m too sentimental to go that route–plus, I doubt I could hit such a precise target with a sledgehammer.

It was hard parting with the rings, not only because of what they symbolized, but because I grew attached to them; they were my constant mani-companions. Sometimes they snuggled together on my ring finger and sometimes I let them each have their own hand. We had a history, the three of us.

The wedding ring I can live without, but I love my engagement ring–a simple oval sapphire set on a modern, braided gold band. I’m not sure what the etiquette is, but I plan to wear that ring again, dammit.

Then there’s the intricate cross-stitch sampler my aunt painstakingly wove and presented to us on our wedding day. Predictably, it hung over our marital bed for years. It seems wrong to banish it to the basement, but what other option is there?

And my wedding dress, which has been in R’s parents’ (also known as my former in-laws?) attic for years, creepily stuffed and preserved in a coffin-like box from the cleaners. Would my girls consider wearing it if/when they get married, or is that forever tainted too?

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