I was always a little sceptical when our Sixth Form English teacher told us that she worked out her first husband was sleeping with someone else when he used the conditional rather than the future tense in answer to a probing question about their relationship. Ptcha! thought I. Even a committed grammar Nazi wouldn’t be able to analyse the state of one’s relationship from a poorly chosen tense. Surely? And I dismissed the notion, barely giving it a thought in the following years.
And it definitely wasn’t anywhere near the forefront of my mind when I was having coffee with The Metrosexual a while ago.
“You know, The Voice must be doing something right,” he said, taking off his shoes and sitting cross-legged on the coffee house sofa.
“Well, apart from the Reiki incident, you don’t really complain about him…” The Met tailed off. “And that’s not like you.”
I cocked an eyebrow.
“No, that came out wrong. It’s just… I mean…”
I chuckled. “Met, it’s fine. I know what you mean.” I’m well aware that I can be, er, vocal when people don’t meet my exacting standards. “Huh. No, I suppose I don’t complain. I don’t really have any reason to, y’know. Give or take the hippy-drippy-mumbo-jumbo-claptrap. I mean, I get brought breakfast in bed; he calls when he says he will. There’s just… nothing to decode, you know. No games. I feel like I know where I stand with him. It’s refreshing.”
And it is. Because sure as hell that’s not the case with a certain other chap in my life. When Argentinean Girlfriend ran out of time on her visa, and finally buggered off back to Buenos Aires, several people in ‘Burgh let out a huge sigh of relief. And it seems that Speckled Lad has fallen head-first into that category.
Lengthy phone calls have been supplemented with a multitude of text messages along the “saw/heard this and thought of you” and “can’t wait to see you when I get back. Miss you” lines, but none has contained anything resembling important information. And then there was one that set the alarm bells gently jingling.
Having sent SL an entirely innocuous message about the gorgeousness of the language in the copy of Everything is Illuminated that he’d leant me, I didn’t really expect a response at all, and certainly not the one I received. Because, for a chap who’s generally so prudent with his punctuation, the reply I got invited more questions than it answered.
Tell me about it, beautiful.
Not :beautiful, or even . Beautiful. I’ve always known grammar and punctuation can be crucial to a person’s state of mind, but never before has an erroneous comma made me huff and puff in such exasperation.* And I’ve never thought that guy who does Reiki would seem like the less perplexing person to spend my time with.
*that’s a lie. There was one. A sign in a cobbler’s in the ‘Burgh which read We repair your shoe,s. That erroneous comma made me pretty mad.