For Love or Linguistics

My husband, G, has completed 23 years of schooling. Once he finished an undergraduate degree, he went on to Law School.  Then a Masters in Law. Then a Masters in Business.  It’s all really quite irritating to a person who fell short of matriculating medical school and who considered her Montessori to be The Emerald City. And to the person who watches the joint account reduce each month after the loan checks go through. He’s the kind of person who can remember the qualities of a rhombus and why the hell altitude and pressure affect boiling points.

He has a weakness, however, and as in any marriage based on mutual reverence and support, I exploit that point of inferiority liberally: The man cannot write.

For me, writing comes without much strain. It feels like a natural outgrowth from a childhood spent wiled away with a book. It’s something that gives me calm as well as some money. Despite his inordinate amount of education, no part of composition comes naturally to G – the spelling of words, the usage of idioms, the rules of grammar. I once convinced him that the word ‘Free’ contained an I. For weeks a large sign with the word ‘FRIE’ scrawled across it sat atop some rubbish on our driveway. As stupid as we must have looked, I like to think that we provided a community service in the way of hearty laughs. For Frie.

Because I am quick to edit his speech, when I heard him use the phrase hunkered down, I immediately interjected:

“The phrase is ‘bunkered down,’ like you’re taking shelter from the cold within a safe place, like a bunker.”

He stared at me incredulously as I met his gaze with an imperious look and a slight head shake, like the one you would have directed at a three-legged dog or a younger sibling after you’ve returned home from one semester of college, now knowing everything about sex, life, and Asian emperors.

“It’s not bunkered, it’s hunkered,” G challenged authoritatively.

“Look it up,” I goaded. “Google that shit.”  I sashayed out of the room, muttering about the tragic state of over-educated men and their flagging command of language.

And Google, he did:

A term morons use, particularly when bad weather is afoot, to which they confuse the meaning of “hunker” with. Bunker is a noun, yet hunker is a verb, thus while the words sound similar, when thought of in their linguistic context, one is blatantly wrong.

Because I had to argue for the use of bunker down like I was lobbying for the preservation of Democracy, I will have my nose rubbed in this linguistic oversight for years to come.

“Erin, the Smiths are on the phone and want to know if you feel like coming over for dinner tonight…or if you’re going to hunker down.”

“Hey, Erin, it’s cold out. Are you going to send some soup down to the bunker?”

“Could you remind me exactly what type of person Google said uses the term ‘hunkered down’?”

All I know is that I need a bunker to hunker down in till I find a new language.

Or a new husband.

I’m also posting over at the site of the inimitable Scary Mommy. It’s a privilege to see my words on her page, like when a really great hostess actually serves the party the dessert you brought instead of hiding it away in the pantry. I’d love it if you visited me there. I’m just the dessert. Scary Mommy is the meal.