A lesson in humility

by Katie on February 22, 2010

A little background is necessary for this story. You see, both of us have a couple of college degrees. So the way I see it, we have an obligation to practice proper English. Just like my Great Mimi always told Ole Ted (my grandpa): “Teddy, I paid a lot of money for you to learn to speak correctly. Now please do so.”

Brandon doesn’t quite agree. (Neither does Ole Ted, but he’s another story.)

So I spend a good part of our conversations correcting encouraging him in his choice of words. And he calls me “The Grammar Queen”. Which I don’t think is quite accurate — I would like to be a lot better myself.

Anyway, Brandon had an opportunity this weekend to set me straight. And he reveled in it.

We were settling in with the laptop Saturday night to watch his new favorite show, The Deep End. (Since it came on, we have traded in Desperate Housewives for what Brandon calls “The Dirty Lawyers”, so we now watch “The Doctors” and “The Lawyers” every weekend.)

As he was trying to get comfortable, flailing his legs around under the covers, one of his thighs came in direct contact with my knee, putting us both in a bit of temporary pain.

He said something about what my knee did to his leg, to which I responded with something about my knee being the “immobile” object in the accident, and therefore it was his fault.

He said, “Im-mobile? That’s not right.”

“Sure it is. ‘Im,’ as in ‘not’. So ‘im-mobile’, as in I was ‘not moving’.”

“But your knee had the ability to move. It could be mobile. It just wasn’t moving at the time. And mobile means ability to move, not the state of moving or not.”

“Hmmm…maybe you’re right. I’ve never thought about that.”

So we Googled “definition of immobile”. This is what Merriam-Webster OnLine said:

1: incapable of being moved: FIXED
2: not moving: MOTIONLESS [keep the patient immobile]

But Brandon didn’t really care for analyzing the second definition. As soon as I read the first one, the mini-debate was over.

“Ha! Yes! I knew it! Come on. Can you please just say I was right? I mean, I am proud of you for backing off so quickly. That told me you really weren’t so sure about it. But I just beat the Grammar Queen.”

I just mumbled something…

He continued: “Aren’t you glad you weren’t embarrassed in public with the improper use of that word?”

“Yes, I am. Thank you for pointing this out to me. I am very grateful you saved me from public humiliation with the improper use of ‘immobile’.”

“Can you please blog about this?”

And that, folks, is how we spend a Saturday night.


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