2005.11.30 X marks the cah-cah

Written by David Green.


For a while, I considered becoming a teacher because I love marking things wrong. There are few things I enjoy more than marring neat, legible handwriting with a sloppy X, or an even more thoughtless slash.

I relished my time as a teacher’s aide in high school, especially checking the papers of people I didn’t like. I relished the thought that, with each one of those sloppy X’s, I was sending that person one step further down the road to a job centered around the handling of smelly things.

I realized, though, that my zest for marking things wrong could hardly be compared with my feelings toward high schoolers, who rank a dash above middle schoolers, who rank a dash above having a bag of soggy garbage poured on my head on the list of things I can’t tolerate.

Nope, when considering an occupation, I definitely had to take into account my general hatred toward sprightly youths and the like. I also had to take into account my general hatred toward people, objects beginning with the letter M, and the entire emotional spectrum starting at “so-so” and building in happiness to “euphoric.”

Imagine why I was so taken by the ad for this position, which read “WANTED: Youthful, disenfranchised, disillusioned male/female who tends to see the glass half empty. Propensity for spending long, cold nights alone and brooding in the dark preferable. Job includes talking to people, mostly over the phone, long, miserable Mondays, and daily excursions to Ohio. Good writing skills a must. Some copy editing required.”

Copy editing, eh? Why that’s kind of like marking things wrong, isn’t it? And hey, anybody can fake being a good writer. All you have to do is use intelligent sounding words like “regard,” “pursuit” and “rumbustious” and connectors like “if,” “with,” “Smith,” and “hunky dory.” Most importantly, the job would give me plenty of time to hate everything except the things I don’t hate. In that regard, my pursuit of the position was was swift and rumbustious, if, by hunky dory, Smith...uh...with.

In fact, I’m so good at faking being a good writer that the University of Michigan gave me a degree with high distinction and honors in English. Heck, for a while, I even thought something along the lines of, “I’m going to be the best #$%& writer these folks have ever seen.”

Then I moved to Morenci and met Colleen Leddy, the only person in the world who likes marking things wrong more than me. To say there was “some” red ink on my first feature would be an understatement. In fact, as far as I could tell, Colleen must’ve abandoned the red pen altogether, because the only way that much red could’ve gotten onto the paper is if she took into the backyard and riddled it with paint balls.  

Now, to be fair, Colleen doesn’t mark things “wrong” per se; she offers constructive criticisms, as do David and Kim and Rich and everyone else who proofreads. But Colleen is probably the most diligent finder of errors I have ever met, and this means a lot coming from a person who spends most of his time pointing out imperfections in people, places, things and ideas (i.e. myself, Canada, toothpaste and love, respectively).

Her diligence isn’t a bad thing in this business, not when it’s the truth that counts. And I’m telling you kids, right now, that the truth is a hard thing to come by, and that you’ll never know the truth about yourself, especially as a writer, until you’ve been ruthlessly Leddy-fied.

You may think you’re verbose and precise and invincible now, but wait until a mild-mannered librarian mother of three writes “poo poo cah cah” next to one of your wordy sentences. Wait until you re-read it and say aloud, “Wow, that sentence really does stink.”

Wait until you look to the top of your own column and think, “Now who’s handling the smelly things?”

   - Nov. 30, 2005


  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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