The Proof Is in the Putting!

Happy 15th (fifteenth?) anniversary to Heidi.  Heidi is my proofreader (proof-reader?). Everything I’ve written for the last 15 (fifteen?) years is first sent to her via e-mail (email?) to make sure there are no spelling or usage errors. This week she is very busy with an out of town (out-of-town?) commitment, so I’m doing my own proofing. If I said I wasn’t nervous, well that would be a bald-faced (bold-faced?) lie.

Newspapers that publish my column have editors who check my work, but I wouldn’t want whoever (whomever?) has that responsibility to think that on a week to week (week-to-week?) basis, I’m not a careful writer. I would be really embarrassed if they continually (continuously?) found mistakes in my column, so Heidi is a preventative (preventive?) measure to be sure I get it right.

I taught English for many years, so I know a little about grammar, but when it comes to some of the other nuances of language, I’m not sure I can  pass muster (mustard?). If I have specific questions, I might check things out on the internet (Internet?). I wouldn’t want to put my column on my website (Website? Web site?) unless it were error-free (error free?)

Honestly, I tend to be sloppier (more sloppy?) than I should be when I use the English language. Unless you have your own personal copy editor (copyeditor?), you won’t know if you’re in the mood for an ice tea or an iced tea. Or maybe some French fries (French Fries? french fries?). And when you get to the airport, you won’t know whether (if?) you should check your carry-on luggage or your carryon luggage.  Then when you get home from that  trip and leave your suitcase on the living room floor over-night (overnight?), the next morning, you’ll wonder if you are coming or going.

Heidi gives me free reign (rein? range?) with my creative ideas. And she is always consistent. She may be consistently wrong, but at least she’s consistent. That’s the kind of person I can depend on (upon?). She may be the best proofer in the mid-west (Mid-West? midwest? Midwest?). Some writers prefer a hands-off approach to their work, but I really need her help. I like it when she hones (homes?) in on my mistakes. I don’t mind if she splits hairs (hares?).

Truth is, few people know all the do’s and don’ts (dos and don’ts?) of the language.  I’ve had discussions among (between?) a great number (amount?) of writers and they all agree you need a person with a critical eye to proof your work, although sometimes your ego can get quashed (squashed?).

I’m not implying (inferring?) that I couldn’t write a column without her, but I think any disinterested (uninterested?) observer would recognize that having someone like Heidi is a slam dunk (slam-dunk?) easy decision.

Yes, I really need her. Even my wife, Mary Ellen (Mary-Ellen? Maryellen?), agrees.



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“Seriously,” I responded to Mary Ellen, “in the middle of the afternoon? At our age? You must be kidding.”

“Why not? If we wait till evening, you’ll just fall asleep. Take your little blue pill and let’s get going.”

So I took an Aleve for my arthritis and we headed out for a class in line dancing.

We were in Florida with our friends Joy and Steve. I figured it was Joy who dragged Steve along to the community center for these lessons, but Steve tells Joy he loves the activity. So it turns out that her husband, who is a better golfer than I am and a better bowler, is also a better liar.

The sign in front of the community center said WATCH YOUR STEP, which at first I thought was a warning about an unsafe change in the flooring, or possibly a whimsical instruction for beginner dancers. But it could have also been a warning to recalcitrant seniors like me not to be uncooperative and cranky.

There were about 60 senior women in the class and a few men. I felt bad because I figured all the ladies were widows simply looking for something to pass the time of day, but when I looked out in the parking lot there were dozens of cars filled with impatient husbands peering at their iPhones or fast asleep in the driver’s seat.

Stella, the instructor, was quite good at her job, but she scrutinized my every move as I tried desperately—and unsuccessfully—to follow her directions. Slide to the left. Grapevine to the right.  Cha cha cha. Foot forward. Pivot. Twist. Turn around. Brush. Step. Kick. When I was certain I had all the moves right, it looked like the other 65 people were doing it all wrong. And in unison.  The five men in the class were eager for the session to end and to get on with their day. I knew this because they were all dancing in their golf shoes.

Stella saw I was frustrated and advised me to just dance and not think too much. It was too late for that advice: I was already thinking about how bad I was at this, thinking of all the people staring at me, and thinking of ways I could turn this disastrous experience into a humor column. Then Steve butted in and told me that I wasn’t keeping time—but that wasn’t true. I knew there were exactly 12 minutes and 45 seconds left before this torture would finally be over.

At noon, Stella excused the beginners and welcomed the intermediate class. Joy, Mary Ellen and I walked to the car, but Steve stuck around to learn some more advanced moves. About 10 minutes later he pirouetted to the car and told me that Stella said I was the worst dancer she had ever seen.

Stella may call herself a line dance instructor, but that was way out of line!




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