Advice: Auntie Slattern’s corrections department

I totally agree. Now shut up and listen.

I totally agree. Now shut up and listen.

I’m not an expert on much, and frankly anyone foolhardy enough to take life advice from me would be well advised to have a sturdy liver, legal counsel on retainer and a reasonable tolerance for extended visits to Betty Ford. Nevertheless there are several subjects on which I feel entitled to make rather free with advice, and on occasion I do — cooking (or not cooking as the case may be), aesthetic and sartorial choices, driving in the city, effective child rearing, grammar and language to name but a few. Well now that I think about it, that’s more than a few and really it’s not the whole list either, but never mind, let’s continue.

Since at the moment the temperature on the east coast is roughly equivalent to that of the surface of the sun and I am really REALLY cranky as a result, I’m feeling inclined to offer up a few unsolicited corrections to erroneous, even egregious, behaviors that are irking me. Obviously I understand that we all have room for improvement, and I am no exception. In fact, constructive criticism (“Pizza again? Is it too much trouble to put the wine bottle down and make dinner?”), helpful tips (“Try getting out of bed before noon if you want be able to sleep at night.”) and polite suggestions (“Perhaps if you chose gazpacho for lunch instead of a third Bloody Mary, you might feel a bit perkier in the afternoon.”) routinely come my way. I give all fair consideration before disregarding them and doing exactly what I feel like at the time. I may be a slattern but I’m no hypocrite.

Anyways, in the spirit of helping my fellow man and with the goal of blowing off some steam, here are a few suggestions I feel the reading public could benefit from. Feel free to forward them along to acquaintances in need of a gentle shove.

Underwear ≠ outerwear



I know, I know, I’ve pointed this out before, but clearly the message is not getting through. Witness the following photo I snapped last night on the New York City subway. At least I’m pretty sure I did. Given the number of margaritas with beer chasers that accompanied the rather festive evening meal, the details are a bit hazy, but how else to explain this photo in my phone?

Now, granted, it was hot — I mean searing, hotter than the hinges of holy Hell down there. But I was dressed and most of the other travelers were, too. Were we comfortable? No, but we were decent, and that’s the crucial issue here. We should all try and look decent.

Happily the front of the garment offered a bit more coverage than the back if my recollection is correct. But really in what galaxy is this an acceptable way to leave the house? Does no one own a mirror anymore? What is going on? I really would like to know, because I’m having a very hard time understanding the thought process/life perspective that allows a person to take a look at herself thusly attired and say, “Okay, looking good. Let’s go!” So ladies, please, I am begging you, check your back fat before you step out the door. And for the love of God, invest in a slip.

Your tense makes me tense.

Though I understand the linguistic evolution behind Americans’ misuse of complicated conditional verb tenses (I’ll spare you the grammar lecture, so don’t say I never did anything for you), it still irks me to hear someone say, “If I would have known your were coming I would have baked a cake.” In case you are wondering, it should be “If I had known you were coming I would have baked a cake.” Or in my case laid in a supply of decent rye so we could sit out on the terrace like civilized people and have a refreshing Sazerac or three in this dreadful heat.

What chafes me even more is to see this erroneous verb tense published in an article about writing, as I recently did in Writer’s Digest. Yup that’s right, a magazine about writing, for writers. I’d share the quote with you, but I set the issue on fire (with my MIND) in a fit of pique.

Similarly, there’s the convoluted, hopelessly nonsensical “I would have liked to have done that.” It should be, “I would have liked to do that,” meaning that in the past you would have enjoyed something you didn’t do. Alternatively, you could say, “I would like to have done that,” meaning that in the present moment you wish you had done something you did not do and wish it was among your past experiences. What you cannot do is mash the two together into a grammatical Frankenstein and hope no one notices or cares, at least not if I’m in earshot.

You see, it’s not the death of the English language, but its slow torture and frequent maiming that drive me to drink. Admittedly it’s a short trip, but still, you take my meaning.

And don’t even get me started on “Does everyone have their paper?”

There’s a good reason you never used that Flesh crayon.

three-flesh-crayola-crayonsRemember the one? Pinkishy-orange and bearing no resemblance to to any naturally-ocurring human skin tone. Barbie-colored best describes it.

You’d fight with your sister over the Midnight Blue, pinch your best friend to get your hands on Forest Green, bite your brother to loosen his grip on Chrome Yellow, but that nasty Flesh-colored crayon stayed in the box untouched, as sharp as the day you whined and begged until your mom agreed to buy the 64-color crate with the handy sharpener on the back.

big pink

Living next to Big Pink without the drugs or the fun.

Why? Because it is the ugliest color in the universe that’s why. Worse than red-brown, chartreuse and mauve combined. It’s nasty, folks, and it should be illegal. At the very least, if –hypothetically — your next door neighbor were to paint the back of her house and all the masonry in the yard this dreadful shade, she should have the decency to sell the property to a nice gay couple who’d paint it a tasteful ecru.

I’m all for letting the freak flag fly, but really, this is just too much.

Well, I’m feeling better now. Any pet peeves you’d like to share? Have at it, my friends.

About WSW

Writer, wife, mother. Toiler in the bottomless, black, soul-sucking coal mine of domestic life. Thank God for the portable bar.

Posted on July 17, 2013, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Yog-Sothoth is the Gate

    I would like to formally request that you write a tirade based on this article about craft beer:

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea, and I’m sure the beer is good. But think how irritating the term “growler” is…right up there with “bespoke.” Bespoke…bespoke…bespoke…growler…growler…growler…

    Also, it could become the first entry in a “Things Beardos Do” series.

    • Have you been hanging around John?

      I will take it under advisement, but I can’t promise anything. Craft/crap, bespoke/misspoke, lactose reflux…hmm, your idea begins to interest me strangely, Ozzie.

  2. I have to give the women a lot of credit and thanks. I’m pleased to see a four inch strap across her back with great confidence that that thing won’t spring forth after a deep breath. But then, who would breath deeply on the subway platform in July? The thought of a Marilyn Monroe skirt flip as the train arrives is just way to scary. Someone stop my brain right now!

  3. KS you rock. I’m in CT and was out today and Hell’s hinges are cooler than a Target or Stop and Shop crowded with slow moving carriage pushers in Daisy Dukes, tees and flip-flops. I’m rooted in front of the fan until the tech is South Windsor calls and tells me my laptop is ready.

  4. Unpopular as it is, I stand firm by my opinion that NO ONE looks good in cropped pants. Nobody. Not even the skinniest model. And it goes downhill from there. Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Of course no one over 35 looks good in shorts, which leaves little in the way of warm weather options for the mature, read menopausal, woman. Sigh.

  5. Leggings as pants for the love of god!!! And even opaque tights as pants! No honey, If I can see your underpants you are not wearing pants, please wear a top or dress long enough to cover the stretched lycra across your booty.

  6. Now, Wendie, you KNOW how I am about candid pictures of me changing into my bathing suit when waiting for the subway. I just wish you had asked first.

    PS: Do you have a larger photo I can have? Just realized that my back may be my best feature, and I don’t want all the guys on to miss out on it.

  7. Oh hell. I am now contemplating re-proofreading my posts ( probably a grammatical felony right there), certain that I have offended your sensibilities at some point with my sloppiness. But then I take comfort in never having displayed my back fat in this way. I am, however, guilty of going without a slip when I can. I can, however, beat the heat with a nice Caprese salad,–
    One day, I am still determined, we shall dine and raise a glass together.

  8. Oops…sorry about the botched linkage attempt. Obviously, I have not even had lunch or I’d be a better typist!

  9. THANK YOU! Yes, underwear vs outerwear makes me jaw clench reflexively as well. Oh, and the apparent shortage of knowledge about the existence of STRAPLESS bras….

    On other notes, I am allergic to tomatoes, but not to vodka….and I don’t care to feel energetic if it gets as hot <a href=http://www.herlanderwalking.wordpress.comhere as it is there! 🙂

    • Can you imagine an alcohol allergy. Horrors. Thanks for looking in!

      • I can imagine and it is horrible; due to a barley allergy I cannot have most beers. Summertime woe!

        • I have it on good authority that Red Bridge gluten free beer is the best of the lot. Not sure if that gets you around the barley problem, but at least it’s not a potato or juniper berry allergy!

          • I’ve had Red Bridge and it isn’t half bad; mostly I’ve resorted to making my own very ancient lineaged herbal beers with NO grains, since event eh sorghum in Red Bridge can cause me grief as a corn relative. I am allergic to potatoes, too, damn it all.

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