As the perspiration rolled off my nose and my skin baked under the shining spotlights, I finished the closing song with a flourish:
… and with your grammar be meticulous and cautious …
… you may be nauseated, but I don’t think you’re nauseous.
The curtains closed. The final dress rehearsal for our new Broadway smash hit –Aunt Ruth Grammar: The Musical – was done!
“Did anyone throw roses to you?” asked Aunt Ruth, standing off to the side. She had finished her dancing just moments earlier.
“Not just roses, but a whole salad!” I exclaimed. “I saw tomatoes, apples, eggs, and even some rocks. I guess they loved it. Anyway, I’m so excited about our opening show this weekend.”
“Nephew, I have something to tell you,” said Aunt Ruth, quietly.
“What is it, my dear aunt?”
“I’m bored of this show.”
I coughed. I felt dizzy. My world started spinning. Before I knew it, Aunt Ruth was standing over me, waving smelling salts in my face.
“What … what happened?” I asked.
“I said I was bored of this show, and you fainted. I guess you are more excited about the show than I am.”
“Oh, no, it’s not that, really. I was shocked at your word usage, not at the fact that you are bored.”
“What do you mean?”
“You can be bored with something or bored by something, but you are not bored of something.”
“Really?” she asked.
“Really,” I said. “Now, we Americans use bored of pretty regularly — and frankly, I don’t see anything wrong with it. As we’ve talked about in the past, languages evolve and grow. However, that doesn’t make it right.”
“Well, no, but are you going to get people to stop using it?”
“Probably not,” I reflected, “but we can still point out the rule, the standard, so that people understand whether they’re speaking correctly versus bending the language a little. After all, you never know when you might be giving a paper, or writing something on the Internet, that might be read or heard by people world-wide. There’s a difference between casual usage and formal correctness.”
“True. So tell me how this bored rule works?”
“Hit it, Hal,” I shouted. Somewhere in the distance, a piano began playing.
“You may be bored with the new neighbors, those who never take a bath;
you may be bored with too much homework if you’re only doing math.
You may be bored with heavy traffic if you’re always in a jam.
You may be bored with TV dinners if you only eat a yam.”
“Yeah?” asked Aunt Ruth.
“Yeah. Further, you may be bored by pointy antlers if you find them on your head;
you may be bored by great big pillows if you see them on your bed.
You may be bored by a big tuba if it’s notes are way too deep;
you may be bored by fluffy penguin dolls who never say a peep.”
Aunt Ruth then began singing.
“I get bored with doing grammar when I’m stuck on lie or lay;
I get bored with conjugation – yuck – whose rules I must obey.
I get bored with me – the novice – using well and using good,
I get bored with trying to figure out I shall or if I should.
I get bored by being confused with using they’re or there or their;
I get bored by trying to know if data is or data are.
I get bored by trying to see where my apostrophes should go;
I get bored by the subjunctive case – I wish it were not so.”
“But never—“ I sang.
“Never!” Aunt Ruth sang.
“Never!” I repeated.
“Never!” she echoed.
“Never,” we sang together, “are we bored of anything!”
The piano played a final chord, and we were done.
“Gosh,” said Aunt Ruth. “I won’t be bored of anything ever again.”