Humor for Adults
Who Can Handle
Adult Humor

— by Len Kennedy, Esq.

Interview with
a Persnickety,
Pugnacious Pedant

“List three adjectives that you think define who you are,” said the old lady who was interviewing me.

     I’ve always been annoyed by the insipid and inane questions I’ve had to answer in job interview after job interview, and I’m normally not very good at hiding that annoyance.  Today was no exception.  “Just three?  That’s a bit limiting, isn’t it?”

     “But that’s the question.  Now, what’s your answer?”

     “Um, I guess I’d hafta go with intelligent, creative, and pantsless.  But you gotta admit, that’s a rather odd question to begin a job interview with.”

     “Did you just end a sentence with a preposition?” she asked, completely ignoring my really witty and clever joke.

     “Well, yeah, I guess.”

     “That’s the sort of grammatical laxity up with which I will not put,” she said, without the teeniest, tiniest tinge of irony.  She then snatched my résumé off her desk and made a beeline for the shredder.

     “Wait,” I said.  “Let’s not be too hasty.  After all, even the most pedantic grammarians admit that ‘Thou shalt not end a sentence with a preposition’ isn’t really a hard and fast rule of grammar — it’s more a matter of style.”

     She sat back down.  “What are you talking about?”

     “I’m just saying — ”

     “No, the phrase ‘What are you talking about?’ — it ends with a preposition.”

     “And, see, it’s perfectly fine.”

     “No, it isn’t.  I don’t like it.  I don’t like it at all.”

     “But how else are you gonna say it?  ‘About what are you talking?’”

     “Why not?”

     “Why not ‘What are you talking about, Willis?’”

     She crumpled up my résumé and tossed it into the wastebasket.  “Be sure to shut the door on your way out.”

     “Hey, wait a minute,” I said.  “What if I promise to never end another sentence with a preposition?”

     “Did you just split an infinitive?”

     “Oops.  But that isn’t really a rule of English grammar.  Some persnickety writers, a couple hundred years ago, insisted on modeling English on Latin — and in Latin, the infinitive verb is a single word, so it’s actually impossible to split the infinitive in Latin.  We, however, do not speak Latin.

     “But you’re certainly not the only one who has strong opinions about how the English language ought to be spoken.  I, for one, can’t stand it when people say disinterested when they really mean uninterested, or fortuitous when the word they’re looking for is clearly serendipitous, or when they say something is different than something else when logic dictates that it is, in fact, different from it.

     “And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sign over the express checkout lane in a grocery store that rightly read, ‘Ten items or fewer.’  No, it’s always ‘Ten items or less.’  But anyone who knows anything about English grammar knows enough to use fewer when referring to a number and less when referring to a quantity — except, of course, when talking about time or money . . . so it would be correct for them to say that the store closes in ten minutes or less, or that a particular product costs ten dollars or less — ”

     “Are you quite finished?”

     “I suppose, but there’s a lot of little peccadilloes like that that annoy the hell outta me.”

     “There is a lot of little peccadilloes?  Don’t you mean there are a lot of little peccadilloes?  If there’s one thing I won’t tolerate, it’s subject-verb disagreement!”

     She picked up the copy of Nonverbal Communication in the Workplace that was lying on her desk and proceeded to beat me over the head with it.

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Home | LenKen Photo Essay | Part I: Quips & Squibs | Part II: Intermezzo: Bad Poetry for Bad People | Part III: Weird Stories for Weird People | Addendum: The Slapdash Mishmash: A Legacy | Appendage: Short Essays on Long Topics | Preamble: A Brief History of Me | Preface: Freedom of Speech versus Freedom from Speech | Prelude: Maturity versus Immaturity | Prologue: Strength versus Weakness | Prolusion: The Period: Dickens Redux | Quips & Squibs | Universal Rules of Etiquette | A Writer and His Hookers | The Sadistic News Network | Books That Cause a Tingling Sensation in My Left Testicle | Alternative Uses for a Brick | A Calm and Rational Analyis of Winter | Odium | Drivel, Blather, Prattle, and Twaddle | Bad Pick-Up Lines | Bilge, Dreck, Tripe, and Schlock for Schlemiels, Schlimazels, Schmucks, and Schmegegges | Arizona | Chickens | If You Make a Girl Snicker, She May Let You Lick Her | A Lesbian’s Lament | THC | Ode to the Paperboy | Sesquipedalian Love Song | Interview with a Petulant Old Shrew | Interview with a Persnickety, Pugnacious Pedant | A Freak Like Me | I Have Weird Dreams | A Long, Hard Look at Gun Control | Readings in the Cassandra Times | The Infamous Stickflipper | Keeping a Kennedy Tradition Alive | The Stalker | Lucy in the Sky with Dysentery | Beyond God & Devil | Pile of Nothing | How to Quit Smoking and Die Anyway | Epilogue: Quirky Colloquy: A Play in One Act | An Introduction to the Slapdash Mishmash | Poppycock? | Der Klusturfuk der Katzenjammer | The Cowardice of One’s Convictions: Cognitive Dissonance Theory in a Nutshell | Controlling Your Emotions before They Control You: Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy in a Nutshell | Why We Should Be Dying to Live Rather than Living to Die | About the Author | Sign My Guestbook