Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Editor (05/27/10)
TITLE: Ain't Is A Word
By Angela M. Baker-Bridge
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We arrived on campus a week early to paint, unpack and set-up our new apartment. When registration day arrived, he was off to enroll; I hit the pavement searching for work. That evening, we both were bursting with enthusiasm as we eagerly reported our respective news. We were so happy, in love, and confident our partnership was made by God.
The next day, my husband received his first writing assignment. His English professor wanted a 300-word essay titled, “Why I Chose This University.” It sounded simple enough. That evening, while my husband sat at the desk writing, I folded laundry. When he was done, he walked over to me, and tried to hand me his handwritten paper.
“Why don’t you type it first while I put away this laundry,” I said, without looking up.
“Because I don’t type—that’s your job.”
I looked up, raising my eyebrows. “What? All this time you never told me I’d be typing your papers.” I emphasized the word never.
“What’s the big deal?” he scoffed, raising his shoulders.
“The big deal is that you expected me to type your papers without ever asking me if I would.”
He shook his head. “You make it sound like you’d be doing this for me instead of for us. Remember, we’re partners.”
With clenched teeth I reached up and practically ripped the paper out of his hand. I pushed aside the laundry on my lap and headed for the desk. Making as much noise as I could, I opened the drawer with the box of onionskin, positioned a sheet in the electric IBM, tightened the ribbon, clipped his handwritten paper to the typing stand, and began clicking away.
“I can’t read this word.”
My husband left the couch to come read over my shoulders. “It’s ain’t.”
“You can’t use ain’t in an English paper.”
“But it’s in the dictionary.”
“But it shouldn’t be in your paper.”
“Fine, do whatever you think will get me a good grade.”
Adjusting the paper, I carefully placed a white erasing strip over the word before ain’t. Unfortunately, the empty space still wasn’t enough for a better word. Yanking the onionskin out, I balled it up and threw it at my husband.
I didn’t type very much on the second sheet before balling it up as well.
Trying to speak over the television, I shouted, “Did you read and correct this or is it a first draft?”
“First draft? I only write stuff once.”
“Believe me, it’s obvious.” I could feel my face getting warmer. “So not only do I have to type your papers, but you also expect me to edit them?” I turned to glare at him.
“Do whatever you have to. Just make sure it still sounds like me.”
With one hand I unclipped his paper from the stand, with the other hand I reached for a red pencil. The more I read the more I marked. The order of this paragraph is wrong. This should be here. He can’t say that. That’s not how it's spelled...
“Where’s the dictionary?”
“I didn’t touch it,” he smirked.
“No kidding...” My voice trailed off as I continued marking his mini-manuscript.
After two hours, I presented a 300-word, double-spaced essay, with one-inch margins to my husband. My anger had turned to pride. I waited for his praise.
“This don’t sound like me at all—it ain’t nothing I’d write—I don’t even know this word—you ruined my essay!” As he raised his voice my boiling point kept pace.
“Your essay? You mean the one filled with grammatical errors, misspelled words, slang, and misused there, their, and they’re?”
“Look,” he shouted, pointing at my face, “I said make sure I get a good grade, I didn’t say play editor.”
Tears flowed down my cheeks as I hurried to our bedroom. “Some partnership, God,” I whimpered in my pillow. An hour later we both apologized.
Did my husband edit his own papers after that? Nope. Turned out he has a language learning disability.
God knew my husband and I would need each other. My husband needed my editing skills; I needed to understand learning disabilities. As it would turn out, our children inherited his learning disabilities, needing me to be their editor too. However, they type their own papers.
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