Her: Well, love is the best medicine.
Him: That’s laughter.
Her: Why do you do it?
Him: I don’t know.
Dialog between Monica and Chandler during a season 6 episode of Friends called “The One with Ross’s Denial”, yes. Also the origin of many a paraphrased interaction between Kristin and I.
I am exceedingly precise when it comes to movie quotes, spelling, details about memories, and I have no reservation, some might call it an uncontrollable impulse, about correcting you if one of those details is stated incorrectly. My wife, on the other hand, is a normal person.
Why am I like this?
Two days ago on Facebook, two of my friends posted a doctored photo of the time circuits from the Delorean in Back to the Future that read APR 30 2013 in the destination bar, with the caption, “Today is the date that Marty McFly traveled into the future.” In the comments underneath both of those photos, I *helpfully* corrected this misinformation and shared that Marty McFly actually went to October 21, 2015.
When I do something like this, especially online, I feel like this guy:
And I am this guy. Every nerd is. And in my diseased mind, the real villain here is whatever insecure, look-at-me motherfucker felt compelled to doctor a screenshot from Back to the Future and deceive the uncritical denizens of Facebook thereby receiving millions of unwarranted mentions on the world’s largest social network. That’s the work of a major, albeit boring, megalomaniac.
So why do I feel like such a shit when I do this?
Because I can’t turn it off. At pub trivia I correct my wife’s spelling, which I know she fucking hates, and rightfully so. Have you ever had someone correct your spelling or grammar in front of your friends? It’s incredibly demeaning, arrogant, just plain annoying, and, unless the question states that precise spelling is required, ultimately unnecessary.
I suspect the compulsive need for correct spelling comes from having two names that basically everyone gets wrong all the time. People I know and have done business with for years, even one of my friends whose son has the same name as I do, spelled the same way and everything, will still address emails to me thusly – “Hi John…” and every time without fail, my blood boils a little. My (real, complete) last name is a total dumpster fire, which only compounds the problem.
It’s in a life spent correcting the butchering of your own name that you find the desire – nay, the duty – to stand up for correct spelling everywhere. You cannot fix your own broken life, so you try to correct injustice outwardly, even if it’s at the expense of your long-suffering wife who just wishes you wouldn’t do that to her.
I desperately don’t want to correct her spelling. I sincerely don’t. But when I see, say Zach Brown Band on the page, I stare at it like a crazy person because I know he spells his name “Zac,” free from the superfluous “h,” as I do. I feel it clawing at my guts just begging to be changed. I fight it and I fight it, but I have no poker face, so everyone knows what I’m thinking (those who are meeting me for the first time might mistake this face for constipation). I eventually can’t take it anymore, and have to get that release, so I take my eraser, erase that wayward “h,” and then hate myself. It’s exhausting.
It’s fitting that the most recent episode of The Big Bang Theory finds Amy trying to cure Sheldon of his obsessive need for closure. She tries some corrective behavioral therapy by erasing a game of tic-tac-toe before it can be completed, she prevents Sheldon from blowing out all the birthday candles, stops Jack from popping out of his box, and, most diabolically, sets up an impressive string of dominoes, and then makes Sheldon put them back in the box before he can knock them over.
She thinks she’s successful and has made progress with Sheldon, and then leaves. Once the door is closed, Sheldon, of course, then re-draws the tic-tac-toe game and finishes it, re-lights the birthday candles and blows them out, pops Jack out of his box, and then sets up the dominoes and knocks them down before collapsing to the floor in an orgasmic heap.
I could give a fuck about any of those activities, but did I slowly lose my mind in the car when my wife and her mom kept referring to her as “Suri” and not “Siri,” referring to the annoying bitch giving us directions, and not the offspring of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes? Yes, yes I did.
My eventual comedic eruption releasing all that pent up tension that mirrored Sheldon’s release on The Big Bang Theory (thankfully) made Kristin laugh.
But the point remains. Anytime you can compare yourself to Sheldon Cooper in anything other than, say, particle physics, that’s probably not good.
I will work on being less of a persnickety asshole in everything I do. All I ask of the universe is to please, please, please, no matter who you’re dealing with, make every attempt to spell their fucking name right. Every time you don’t, it’s almost certain their husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/mistress/best friend is paying for it.