2009-11-06

Literally

It's a pet peeve when people misuse the word literally. It started when I misused it on a paper in junior high. Like most people, I had mixed it up with figuratively. I wrote something like, "He literally killed him," when I meant to say was that the character had the crap kicked out him (which is also a phrase that should probably never be accompanied by the word literally.)

Of course, there are some times when using the word correctly is far worse than using it incorrectly. It happened to me a few weeks ago on one of these Indian summer Saturdays we've been enjoying. I was outside picking up the apples all over my backyard and cursing the tree bombarding my lawn. As I worked along the back fence, near the grape vines and pear trees (yes, my yard is the produce section), the back neighbor was out here picking the grapes (which have seeds the size of small pebbles.) She saw me flinging these apples into the trash and asked, "Are you just throwing those away?" Why yes, I was just throwing them away. As a matter of fact, that spring I liberally doused the tree with a fruit inhibitor, hoping it would keep me from having to do the picking up in which I was currently engaged.

"Well, if you're just throwing them away, can we come pick them up?" I eyed the worm riddled specimen in my hands and replied, "I guess?". So, this middle-aged woman and her mother came over with a couple of boxes to get the rest off of the lawn. I didn't really feel right leaving them out there alone, and the accompanying three year old seemed a little mischievous, so I stayed outside and worked/supervised. This of course, lead to conversation. Turns out that this woman wasn't actually my neighbor as I had thought (don't judge me), but someone who had run into my neighbor and found out about the grapes. (What that conversation was like I can't imagine.) So, she was in the backyard to pick the grapes, because, as she put it, "My kids are anal retentive, literally."

Wait, what? Really? I shuddered. She went on to explain something about the juice being good for kids or whatever. Which is fine...but I definitely didn't need to know anything about anyone's bowel movements. Literally.