Consider the Cliche': More than one executive, teacher and office worker were rendered all but speechless -- perhaps even humbled -- after Arlington editorial consultant Alfred Toner listed something like 148 "uncouth words in disarray."
"Every habitual offender in my government office (myself included) has been provided a copy suitable for posting," announced Barry Mackintosh, National Park Service historian. "But how could Toner have missed 'prioritize' (for the verb 'rank'); 'really' (as both adverb and interjection); 'together' (as in 'get one's act together'), and 'affirm' (as in 'affirm one's personhood')?"
"The self-styled intellectual community," wrote Bennett Moser Willis, McLean, "senses no recourse but to reply in kind:
"Speaking only for ourselves, we relate positively to Mr. Toner's seminal discourse, subject only to the obligatory caveat, with which any fair-minded observer must agree. That far from exhausting the possibilities of his subject, he has barely scratched the surface."
"To think that a nation that can go to the moon can produce an editorial consultant who would launch us towards an agonizing reappraisal of our phraseology is a gross out," said R.M. Stout of Silver Spring.
"The kind of time frame we are looking at clearly narrows our parameters to the burning issues of the day. What we need is for all available human resources to hit the ground running and impact a major breakthrough in closing the expectation gap and restoring our quality of life.
"Let's tell it like it is: Upward mobility is the name of the game. What we don't need is languagemeisters distracting us with insightful input on close encounters of the verb and/or noun kind. Believe me, I've been there . . . Talk t'ya later."
"Really!!!" exclaimed an unsigned postcard.
Meanwhile, Toner -- who after hearing, among other things, that a Cathedral School teacher's tongue was tied--confided that "I try to get under the tent." Translation: We're all in this together.
Hear Ye: Sophia Behrens of Arlington adds another hearing-dog program to the list, International Hearing Dog, Inc., 5901 E. 89th Ave., Henderson, Colo. 80640. "The IHD dogs, contrary to some others, are offered at no cost," says Behrens, and adds that her daughter Suzanne has one of its "star pupils, 'Happy.' "
Yards to Go: As football widows cheer the NFL strike, Carmen Medina, Falls Church, passes on a kicknote. Her father, a career U.S. Army sergeant and football widower, can barely keep from letting out a hold-that-line whoop.
"We're Puerto Rican," writes Medina, "and when my parents were first exposed to American football, neither one could understand the custom." But when her mother was alone and found time to sit down and watch TV, "the only things on were those bizarre football games. Barely speaking English, she could not comprehend the Byzantine descriptions of the announcers. Boredom, however, compelled her to tackle the sport, and then one day, as if by magic, a cleverly concealed play became like a thing of beauty to her."
That beauty became a thing forever, even pursued surreptitiously via transistor radio. "Finally, after all these years," says Medina, "my father has something to cheer about."