Wednesday, January 25, 2012


John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman--"My One And Only Love" (mp3)

Let me be blunt: I want more "the" in my life.

Especially in reference to me. That's right, that most common of articles is something that I find myself craving everytime I pick up a magazine, especially a story about someone famous. I want to be "the."

I'm not talking about "the" pronounced as "thee," as in a professional athlete who introduces his college as "The University of Ohio" or some such. That's presumptuous and over-urging.

No, for you grammarians out there, I'm talking about "the" in an appositive phrase. You know, that statement that introduces the subject? As in, "the novelist Joe Schmoe" or "the painter Jane Floe." That's it. That's all I want. Instead of being Bob _____, I want to be "the teacher Bob ______" or "the dean Bob ______." Is it so much to ask?


As far as I can tell, there are a few criteria that one must possess in order to get the "the." First, the person must pursue a craft worthy of the the "the." Popular ones that qualify, beyond what was already mention include "the poet," "the artist," "and, suddenly, the "journalist." I thought for the longest time that you had to be a creative type in order to get the "the," which is why seeing "the journalist _____ _____" in Newsweek tonight gave me both hope and the courage to write this post.

Second, the person must be married or living with somebody, because you rarely get the mention if you are the main focus. Only if you're being quoted, as in, "The poet Robert Frost once said...." Otherwise, you've got to have a significant other, and, probably, a more significant other. I can handle that: I'm married to a lawyer. Excuse me, I'm married to "the attorney _____ _____," which works right now since I'm talking about me, which makes her second banana. For once. At the very least, to get the "the," you've got to be the partner that the writer isn't writing about, even if you happen to have more cred, fame, cache, or whatever.

And finally, the person should have a "here's somebody you don't know but if you were cultured you would" quality about him or her. See, when a writer gives you the "the," he or she is elevating you at the same time that he's putting down the reader. He's saying, "Look, fugnut, if I don't identify his wife as a poet, somebody like you is not going to have any idea who she is. Embarassing, really."

I'm okay with that. Just give me the "the." I don't mind being a craft beer, a boutique offering, a niche product, an esoteric choice. I'll happily be the best place to eat that nobody knows about or the option that exists only for those in the know. Just give me the "the."

In fact, now that I think of it, my wife the attorney isn't ever going to get the "the." She's a lawyer, for God's sakes, making the big bucks while working herself to death, but grinding it out, not creating art. I'm sure she counts it as part of her good fortune that she's married to "the blogger Bob ______."

Yeah, the blogger. I like the sound of that. I'll take it.


cinderkeys said...

Careful what you wish for:

Everywhere I look I see this phrase - “The Sick and Disabled”. It is as if somehow 'these people' are a separate commodity - other than us. A breed apart. And of course seeing ‘them’ like this is what allows politicians and journalists and everyone else in the end, to discuss ‘their’ future in terms of statistics and graphs and percentages. Talking of ‘them’ in these terms makes it easier for people to dissociate and thereby give consent for actions which will have an adverse effect.

Anonymous said...

I thought you were already regularly referred to as "the other Bottom of the Glass blogger."

Bob said...

Dear Anon, that's true, but only in conversation. I wanted to actually see it in print, so thanks.

Bob said...

I am happy to be Dicky Betts to Billy's Duane Allman.