Offending Grandma with Grammar

My grandmother was possibly the nicest person in the world. She was certainly the nicest person in the Clause family. And I’m about to make a decision that would make Grandma scowl and shake her head at me like she did the one time she thought I pushed my nephew. (For the record: he fell. And he’s only five years younger than me, and we were kids, so that’s not quite as creepy as it sounds either way.)

I’ve always hated the word boyfriend, so what’s a young, pretentious post–English major, post-MFA type to do when she gets into a relationship with a person of the male variety? She calls him her “young man,” perhaps as a nod to her beloved Grandma. But what does an older post–English major, post-MFA type, who has turned her pretensions into jokes—or maybe they were jokes all along—do after she has married said young man? Husband is a weighty term, and one that makes him sound staid and middle aged. So for a while I continued to call him my young man. But then he turned 40. In desperation, I ran a contest so he could be renamed on this blog.

(In person, I had long given up calling him the young man, and call him my husband, or sometimes, *shocking* I call him by his real name and/or a timeworn nickname.)

This contest unleashed a scandal of huge proportions. OK, of minor proportions. The only ones who really cared was Cougar Clause and myself. But we howled with laughter over it. Cub Clause asked Cougar whether she was in trouble. (No way, Cubby, that was hilarious.)

Without further ramblings, I would like to present my young man with a new name:

Dangling Participle

He has approved the name change and has promised to put the winner’s name in his next story. Of course he doesn’t know that the winner’s name is Downith, much less how to spell her real name. But that’s his problem.

I’d like to add a special honorable mention to Sarah W., who suggested I call him “Predicate Nomative” because “it officially has the same value as the subject, but we all know the PN is only a mere reflection of the subject’s glory.” Thank you, my friend, I might have to write you a poem for being so clever to think that up. I would also like to send out a special thanks to the person who sent me “Naan Fiction,” which would have surely worked, except that I am the bread- and non-fiction maker of the family. It made me laugh, and Grandma might have liked it a lot better.

What offends your grandma?


5 responses to “Offending Grandma with Grammar

  1. Hold on Indy!

    Firstly, you said II (that’s a double capital “I” given that I want to use emphatic upper case, and that the first person singular is already upper case) was going to judge the contest. Waddya think you’re doing?

    Secondly, “The only ones who really cared was Cougar Clause and myself” — and you call yourself a copy-editor?

    And finally, how can you be talking about dangling anything in a blog that you KNOW Cubby reads?


    • 1. I said you were going to choose the ones that would be voted on, not the final winner. The final winner was chosen by popular vote.

      2. Work–life balance

      3. Cubby has children of her own; she’s just embarrassed that you get the joke.

  2. Dearest Indy,

    I am sorry I have not a jumped into the conversation sooner but every time I jump online someone needs a nappy change or to be fed or a bandaid or the two older ones need to be separated when they are fighting and pretending to be superheroes.

    In reference to your previous entry ‘scandal rocks fans & clause’ it is important to point out that I was trying to protect you and your poor defenseless readers. How would they have felt if the identity of nurse fuzzy wuzzy was revealed after a winner had been named. They may have felt like, as you suggested, you were sleeping with the head of the CIA or something. How could your older sister put you in this situation Indy? I, unlike her, was trying to be a supportive, caring family member and protecting your best interests.

    On another note, can’t we just still call him young man? Don’t they say the 40s are the new 30s? So when he is 50 it will be like he is 40 and then maybe you could rename him.

    What would my grandma find offensive? Any reference to men’s dangling bits!


    • Dearest Cub,

      I have the greatest respect for your motives. I was, in addition, making a terrible pun on your fake name (cub reporter is a young reporter).

      Your grandma would have been profoundly offended by a reference to men’s dangling bits. But she also would have been offended by a dangling participle. She did, of course, teach me two-thirds of what I know about grammar.


      Auntie Indy

  3. I have been known to answer to just about anything, including Damn Nate, Damn Hate, etc so DP has some flexibility.

    (Here I act all mature and don’t make a joke about dangling participles and flexibility – that would definitely offend my grandma)

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