Because you are an intelligent person (perhaps you wonder how I know that? do I have a secret camera in your house?), you probably read this blog with a critical eye, or even with two critical eyes, if you still have both. Maybe you ask yourself “Are all these facts he gives in the blog actually true?” (Answer: of course they’re true—you’re reading them on the internet). Or perhaps you consider blog style, asking yourself “Is that a felicitous phrasing he’s using there, elegant and imaginative, or did he just come up with that combination of words from drinking too much beer?” (Answer: look into my eyes, you are getting sleepy, sleeeepy, you are thinking about how beautiful the writing is on this blog.)
Years ago, when I was a callow youth, a boy, a stripling, a youngun full of optimism, testosterone, and potential, I began to “learn” the Russian language, believing I could do that. That study brought before my eyes a Russian folk saying—they have many folk sayings in Russia, you need more of them there—which I found pithy and meaningful. I don’t know whether it’s a true folk saying, since I didn’t read it on the internet, but here it is: Truth is good, but happiness is better.
I’m putting that lovely aphorism into practice in my blog. I can say with my hand over my heart, metaphorically, I mean, because I’m typing, that my blog is most definitely true when I want it to be. In pursuit of happiness, however, as required by law (see the Declaration of Independence) I recognize that truth does not always make us happy and needs to be augmented with reality adjustments. In writing lingo, this is technically called “jiggled”.
So anyway, I took the bus to town the other day. I did this in order to get to yoga class, where I have made remarkable progress. The yoga teacher even said to me, “It’s remarkable that you’re still here.” I much appreciated that thoughtful acknowledgement.
“But wait,” I hear you say, as you read this with two critical eyes, if you still have both, “why didn’t you just drive to yoga class? Don’t you have a car? Aren’t you an American?” I somewhat appreciate your tenacity with facts, though you don’t have to feel obligated to keep that up. Yes, I own a car, but at that time my car needed a new transmission, which is, I believe, one of the parts. I don’t know what a transmission actually does, but based on my careful linguistic study, I will suggest that it “transmits” something. (I’m speaking as a language expert there.) What might be transmitted I’m not sure, though it’s possible that it transmits prayers. I know my own car mostly runs on prayers to God, and perhaps the transmission is involved in that.
So anyway I took the bus to town. While I was on the bus, a woman surprised us all by suddenly crying out. People naturally got excited. Some of them even cried out in turn.
When this happened, I stood boldly and said, “I’m a doctor!”
“Make way!” people shouted. “A medical doctor!”
“No,” I replied. “Not a medical doctor. English. I’ll speak to her in English.”
I sat down beside the woman and said, “Ma’am, I’m a writing specialist with a decent understanding of literary themes. How can I help you?”
She looked at me with eyes that kind of bulged, like this…well, you can’t see it, but anyway. Perhaps she was surprised that a good-hearted stranger would make such a kind offer. The woman was younger than I had at first realized, around twenty, she was holding a phone in her hand, and when I first sat down beside her she was looking at the screen. “You’re a what?” she asked.
“I’m a doctor of writing,” I said. “Can I help you?”
“There’s doctors of writing?” she asked. “Really?” She looked back at her phone. “Then look what my dick boyfriend just wrote.” She handed me her cell phone, with the text she had just read. It said “Y Rt U here.”
“I think he wants to break up with me,” she said with an unhappy voice. “He wrote ‘You are too ugly here.’”
“I don’t know your boyfriend,” I said. “But to judge a person who I don’t know and never met, nor ever hope to, I think he loves you. This doesn’t say ‘You are too ugly here.’ Your boyfriend just isn’t good with punctuation. Or the English language in general, probably.”
“What do you think it says?” she asked.
“Well, if you added a question mark at the end, as I believe he would have intended if he had ever heard of them, it would say ‘Why aren’t you here?’ He misses you.”
“Oh.” Now she smiled and grew misty eyed. You know what I mean, eyes slightly wet with tears. As a doctor of writing I was using a metaphor there. “He misses me.” She smiled even broader, then frowned. “I wish I hadn’t sent that text to reply. I wrote ‘UR2’.”
“No problem,” I said, in my capacity as a doctor of writing. “Just add the word ‘sweet’.”
While I watched, she sent him a text that said “ST”.
“I’m sure he’ll understand it,” I said and moved back to my seat. Really, though, I could think of a whole lot of other possibilities than sweet. But maybe that’s just me, in my professional capacity.