by cheri block
When podcasts first became vogue new media, I began listening to Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl. I downloaded her podcasts from iTunes. Everything about her business endeavor was hot: five thousand or more hits a month on a user-friendly website, a book contract, and an appearance on Oprah.
That year, on and off, I suffered from insomnia, awaking at 3:30 am. Like a thoroughbred filly ready for the Kentucky Derby, I would bolt in a hot flash downstairs, make coffee, commune with the dog, and turn on my computer.
Out of boredom, I suppose, I began answering grammar questions on Mignon’s website in the comments section. I did this just for fun. In a way, I felt akin to the Nighthawks, the radiologists from India reading x-rays for American hospital emergency room docs, while American radiologists slept.
One day, in March of that year, an e-mail came into my box from Mignon herself. She liked my answers and my humor. Would I be interested in answering questions for her? Wow! Grammar Girl in my mailbox.
Sure, I said.
Judge Blah said, Are you going to get paid for your time?
I said, No. What else am I going to do at 3:30 am when I can’t sleep?
He shook his head. How bout correct your own papers? You always have a stack of them. Cheri, You are a very busy person, running a business. I don’t know why you would do this.
Sounds fun, I answered.
Mignon gave me the password to her website and suggested that my code name be aardvark, a blue little creature she used in her grammar examples, along with a yellow snail named Squiggley.
May I give aardvark a personality when I answer questions? I asked.
No, she said. I am hoping to write a children’s book and don’t want your take on aardvark to prejudice my ideas.
Ok, I agreed.
So aardvark I became. My compatriot, Squiggley, quit after a month. Answering a grammar question accurately takes time and sometimes, research.
I learned a lot about people that year. Know-it-alls, Meanies, Braggers, Idiots–they all submitted questions along with the Sincere, the Kind, and the Witty.
For one year, I answered questions. Here is a sample of my little buddy aardvark’s work:
7/14/2007 4:33:04 PM
As you know, the word apology can be a singular or plural noun, so aardvark would recommend the following advice:
If someone has apologized for one transgression, you would say, ” I accept your apology,” or “Apology accepted.”
For those individuals (or creatures) who transgress more than once and want forgiveness with a multi-pronged apology, then I would use the plural of apology.
Squiggley, on occasion, has tracked goo into my den and has eaten small pieces of my geranium. So, when he says, ” I am sorry for the mess I left in your den, as well as for the hole I left in your geranium,” I would reply, ” I accept your apologies.”
Please accept my apology if this explanation doesn’t clarify the issue for you! —–
I am not sure how many answers I provided, but during that time, my grammar improved. Soon, after her book deal, her New York publisher asked her to change her website design. The comments section changed too, so I could not reply to an individual question. Aardvark lost interest and quit.
Yes, those days were fun.
But the nights were long.