Slyly, stealthily, heavily


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I have this thing about adverbs.

Not to kill them or anything, because, well, we have this thing about killing. Not good.

Unless you’re talking about killing the enemies of America, in which case it’s sometimes necessary.

But we don’t dream about it. And we’re pretty sure adverbs are not the enemy of America.

(Though, occasionally, editing copy, I wonder.)

In the news stories (and in the movies — hmmm), people who dream about killing turn out to be those quiet, nice beings who wouldn’t hurt a fly (though maybe catch one once in a while in the outfield) and who, one fine day, saunter into doughnut shops and commit carnage with an AK-47.

What is it about doughnut shops?

To be clear: I do not dream about killing adverbs.

They’re merely annoyances, easily avoidable. (Except just there.) Flies (except those in the outfield) and mosquitoes are annoyances, too, but not so easily (there you go again) avoided. I don’t dream about killing flies and mosquitoes, I just do it. Simply, mechanically, bare-handedly.


When I start thinking about adverbs, for some reason, I start thinking about Republicans. It’s just a strange little tic. I’m pretty sure it’s not contagious. (Which reminds me — I have to make time to go see that movie. Do human beings make time, or does time make human beings?)

Take our governor, who I’m sure is a fine man, good with children and grandchildren, kind to pets, etc. Our governor would never strap the family’s dog to the top of the car and drive to Canada, as another Republican and former governor did.

(And what was Mitt Romney doing driving to Canada, anyway? What — America’s not good enough for him?)

“Especially in Asia, personal relationships are very important,” Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad cheerily informs Iowa Public Radio.

Not to pick on the governor, but personal relationships don’t “especially” matter a whit in America and Europe? Or Central and South America?

And besides, Asia stretches from Israel to Japan. All those people are the same? It boggles the imagination more than adverbs.

Of course, if I’m being honest (Honestly, I can be honest), it’s not just Republicans who can come up with head-scratchers. Even President Obama, normally quite eloquent, can boggle your imagination.(We’re going to leave Joe Biden out of the conversation. He’s in a class all by himself.)

In urging the American people to push Congress to pass his jobs bill, Obama said, “I want you to call. I want you to email. I want you to tweet. I want you to fax. I want you to visit. I want you to Facebook … Send a carrier pigeon.”

Which is a fine sentiment, except for using “Facebook” as a verb. Once we start using “Facebook” as a verb, pretty soon we’ll turn it into an adverb (there’s that word again), and people will start saying, “She acts just so Facebookly.” The end of the Empire won’t be far behind.

(Oh, wait — we don’t call America an empire.)

On the other hand, I liked Obama’s bit about carrier pigeons. Not that I’m a bird fanatic or anything. I mean, I don’t dream about them (except in the occasional Ingmar Bergman thing that always ends with seals barking).

But carrier pigeons — that’s the kind of science Rick Perry can understand.

Maybe even Michele Bachmann.

(Nah — that’s probably a climate too far.)

So you can see why I have this thing about adverbs. It’s like handling dynamite. Or kale.

And just remember — you’re not allowed to hyphenate adverbs ending in “ly.” It’s in the IRS tax code.

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