Sunday, January 3, 2010


Scene from The Golden Girls:

"Is your name difficult to spell?" -- Random Guy

"Yes, but I'm getting better at it." -- Rose Nylund

know I can be annoyingly perfectionist. When I'm in editor mode, I can drive my writers crazy with my nitpicking. Send me an email or a text message -- in English or in Spanish -- and I'll pick it apart, put it together and pick it apart again, like a teacher who doesn't know when to say, "School's out!"

But some of the guys in Buenos Aires who send me text messages make it hard to resist. I'm beginning to suspect that I gave my phone number to one borderline-illiterate kid, and he's been handing it out to all of his equally grammar- and orthography-challenged friends.

The latest text offender sent me 23 messages in a 24-hour period last week with so many errors that I began to suspect he was doing it for my entertainment only. I'll spare you the lurid, X-rated stuff because it's not nearly as interesting. There were all of the usual suspects: LL and Y used interchangeably (they are pronounced the same way in Spanish) as well as B and V (ditto). It was obvious that he was spelling every word phonetically because, among other things, he never once used an H, which isn't pronounced in Spanish.

There also was a complete lack of punctuation and such a blatant disregard for sentence structure that I had a difficult time figuring out what he was trying to say and stopped trying around the fifth or sixth message.

I only responded to the first two, to ask him twice who the hell he was. When he finally revealed his name, several text messages in, I realized why he hadn't given it up sooner. "Jabier," he wrote. As in, Javier! The poor thing can't even spell his own name!!!

In BA, I've gone out with guys with questionable sources of income -- or no source of income. Guys with boyfriends, girlfriends and kids. Guys who still live at home. I twice went out with someone who had never stepped foot inside a classroom and had taught himself how to read and write (that's the good part), but at 23, he also had four kids with three different mothers (the bad).

It's what's on the inside that counts, right? Still, I've got to draw the line somewhere, and not knowing how to spell your own first name sounds like a dealbreaker if ever I heard one.
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