Friday, February 6, 2009

Anal Retentivitis

I don't know how it happened, but I suspect that it crept in slowly over time. I can tell you that I didn't know that I was afflicted until I was wrapped up tighter than a piggy in a blanket (which frankly are delicious). Some might liken my situation, my condition, to the aging and fermenting of a fine bottle of wine. However, my condition can at times be a curse. What am I talking about? I am talking about being completely anal retentive (and yes I know, this is disgusting terminology) about grammar, syntax, and usage. I used to be able to read a book, a magazine article, a newspaper, or even a bumper sticker and appreciate it for its message, humor, or point of view. Now it seems that I cannot see past the words and punctuation. I have lost sight of the forest for the trees. I start to develop hives and intense endocrine problems when there are inappropriate verb tense changes. I become agitated when people leave out simple articles (i.e. words like a, an, the) in their writing or are ignorant of the usage rules for "who" and "whom", or worse, "that" and "which". I have gotten to the point that no matter what I read, I am constantly making editoral notes.

According to wikipedia, the true fountain of all knowledge, the term anal retentive is used to describe a person with such attention to detail that the obsession becomes an annoyance to others. While I am sensitive (at least to some level) of annoying others, I am more concerned about how much this trait is annoying to me. This blog has me harkening back to an old Barney Miller episode in which a man is arrested after he goes into a public rampage over the pervasive misuse of the english language. "Free gift! Is there any other kind? Square-shaped, as opposed to what, square-colored?" Sergeant Dietrich listens carefully, then wryly drives the man insane with a single word response, "Irregardless".