Monday, August 16

Signs

This hastily-scrawled sign, with three added, extra-sparkly stars, shone far too briefly on the front of a small, now-defunct local watering hole. Its failure may have been preceded by the brief flash of realization on the part of the proprietor that their attempt at wry humor and folksy wordplay was, in itself, a parody of a parody. Probably not.

Back when it was a cute and comfortably rare occurrence, a bar named the "Dew Drop Inn" might raise a chuckle among the passersby, a clear and punny reference to the invitation, "Do Drop In". There have been a number of roadside attractions to bear the Dew Drop mantle, not the least of which is the Dew Drop Inn of Mobile, Alabama. A hot dog to die for and also from.

This latter-day attempt fails in so many ways, not the least is the failure of the sign's instigator to realize that they have totally sidestepped the entire wink and nudge in favor of a direct entreaty without benefit of humor, irony or a little thought.

While I'm a common word-snob, there is also a genre of signage that tweaks my upturned nose. One such sign in a distant neighborhood, some years ago, proclaimed the existence of "Jim and I's Place". This is a tragic failure of the elementary school system of grammatical correction.

The scenario: Debbie raises her hand in class and asks the teacher, "Can me and Jim go to the cafeteria?"

Teacher: "You mean, "Can Jim and I go to the cafeteria?"

Debbie: "Like whatever, can Jim and I go to the cafeteria?"

Fast forward a few years. Debbie and Jim are married, and one night at McDonald's they decided to start their own business - a restaurant and bar - and together they could make a go of it. Debbie would serve her famous chicken-fried pancakes-on-a-stick and Jim would sling frothy Pabst beers at the bar.

Now, for a name. The name must reflect the commitment that Debbie and Jim bring to the endeavor, and since Jim is using his GM pension money to set the ball in motion, he should get top billing. "Jim and Debbie's" comes to mind. No, Debbie didn't think that was clever enough. She once saw a Fred MacMurray / Claudette Colbert movie about chickens, and thought the title, "The Egg and I" was clever and maybe a bit funny. It must have been funny, because Ma and Pa Kettle were in that movie, too, and Debbie thought they were freaking hilarious.

So, mindful of her fourth-grade knockdown, and completely sure that "Jim and Me" was dead wrong, Debbie told the sign-painter,

"Jim and I".

The helpful sign-painter, who was also a big Kettles fan, reminded Debbie that "Jim and I" showed no possession. There should be an apostrophe somewhere. Maybe an "s" or two as well.

A grateful Debbie thanked the sign-painter for his wisdom and gave her permission for the final version of the shingle's message, "Jim and I's Place".

It's altogether possible that Debbie and Jim may have reproduced, and helped their children with their homework. You probably work for one of their kids.

Thus spake the rabbit.

6 comments:

tom said...

The sign painter now works for the stone marker company in Home, and retains a penchant for adding an apostrophe preceding the plural s on the names of customers. Loved the story. You pedant!

Le Grand Lapin said...

I was sure the sign painter started working for car dealerships and was writing catchy bits like "SUV's" and "We still have 09's left".

Jan said...

You are my favorite word-snob. But you used the wrong adjective: you are anything but "common." Wonderful post. Thank you for the laugh.

And their children sometimes edit my copy.

Le Grand Lapin said...

Jan, Theirs is an ample family. Some of their spawn were Art Directors, some were Account Execs.

Applecart T. said...

oh, blogspot, i just want to do *like* like on Facebook, not have to match the rabbit's fine wit in a full-blown comment.

Le Grand Lapin said...

A.T., "Like" taken as read.