I must have a special affinity for adverbs. Asking the "why, when, where, how?" has led me to read exclusively nonfiction. While everyone around me discusses the latest popular novel, I am plodding through books like Organizing for the Spirit.
My late friend Bernie used to say, "I don't have to read romance novels. My life is a romance novel!" Maybe that's why I don't need to read a lot of fiction. My life has been a novel in itself!
Caroline, my precious little granddaughter who will soon turn 3, has entered the "why?" stage. It can be frustrating for the grown-ups, but she entertains us so well that one can't help but be amused. Yesterday I sat with her at Borders while her mom and her baby sister Charlotte shopped for books. Caroline and I sat down on the step and read one book after another. When it was time to go, I told her I would buy her one $4 book. She narrowed it down to a Lazytown book (from one of her favorite TV shows) and a Thomas the Train book. She finally decided on Thomas the Train and we paid for the book and continued on our way.
Last night I got a call from Caroline.
"Grammy," she said, "did you take the Lazytown book home to your house?" (She is well aware that we keep at least 40 books here for her to enjoy while she is visiting us.)
"No, honey," I replied. "I didn't buy that book."
"Why didn't you buy the book?"
At this point, I settled back in my chair. "Remember, you said you wanted Thomas the Train?" I reminded her.
Caroline paused for only a second. "But why didn't you buy the Lazytown book?"
I chose the simplest and truest answer. "Because I didn't have the money."
"Why didn't you have the money?"
Oh, let me count the ways...the plumber, the electrician, the doctor, the oil company...
"Because I had to spend money on other things."
I was surprised that that answer seemed to satisfy her.
I ask myself "why?" every time I have a weird dream. Like last night. Ed got up early this morning and at 8:00 I shuffled into the living room in my nightgown and well-worn housecoat. I threw myself into the nearest chair. "I had a nightmare," I said dejectedly.
Ed was tending the fire, but turned and asked, "Oh? About what?"
"It was about a horrible grammatical error that I made in a letter."
Ed predictably rolled his eyes. "Oooh," he said, "that would terrify me too!"
It was a horrible nightmare. I dreamt that I had written an important letter (to whom, I don't recall) and after it was sent, I realized that, instead of typing "friend of theirs," I had typed "friend of theres's." Ouch. It's hard for me to type it like that right now. It stings my eyes; it weakens my fingers. Then in the dream, when I realized my horrid and completely unforgivable mistake, I typed another letter to clarify that I hadn't meant to type "theres's" and that I knew better than that, and then I begged the recipient to find the original letter and burn it, shred it, or similarly destroy it so that no traces of my temporary insanity would remain. I woke up in a cold sweat.
When I finished my story of deepest shame, I could swear Ed was laughing.
So again I ask myself why my subconscious would torture me so. I think it relates to the house-selling situation - as I assume everything does these days. I think I feel helpless in so many facets of my life during this time of uncertainty that I want to stand on the only solid ground I have - my punctuation, spelling, and grammar. To lose that would be to lose my identity, in a way. It is something I can control, and by gum, I will control it!
OK, so it's not your usual run-of-the-mill nightmare. Welcome to my world.