Ring! Ring! Ring!
I reached over with my right arm — eyes still closed, as it was sometime in the wee hours of the morning and I was rising from the depths of a marvelous dream where people lived in a world of regular-only verbs — and I waved my arm around, but I couldn’t find the phone.
Ring! Ring! Ring!
I extended a bit further over the edge of the bed, and THWOP! I fell out and landed on the floor. I did, however, find the phone.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Nauseating Nephew! Well it’s about time. I must say, your delay in answering the phone was a bit annoying to myself, especially considering the circumstances.”
“Circumstances? Wait, before you start anything … what was the part you said about myself?”
“Wait, isn’t that what I said?”
“No, you said, ‘Myself’.”
There was silence on the other end of the line, and then I heard a thud thud thud.
“Aunt Ruth, what’s that noise?”
“Oh, I’m just hitting myself in the head with a large book.”
“For being so stupid as to call you in the middle of the night, forgetting that that’s when you enjoy talking about English grammar stuff.”
“Well this is your lucky evening, isn’t it then?” I smiled to myself.
“Now, what were you saying about myself?”
“Well, dear Auntie, it’s like …”
“Don’t call me that, remember?”
“Oh right. Sorry.”
“Keep going, please.”
“All right. You said — and I quote this — ‘annoying to myself.’ That’s not what you should say.”
“Why not? You are indeed annoying sometimes.”
“Oh, I don’t doubt that. But that’s not how myself should be used.”
“‘Okay, fine then, good night.”
“Wait, Auntie — Aunt — Ruth. Don’t you want to hear how to use it correctly?”
“No, not really.”
“Do you want to come over for lunch tomorrow — or today, whatever day it is?”
“Well, I’m kind of busy today.”
“I’ll be shoving bamboo shoots up my fingernails.”
“I made a batch of baklava last night.”
“I’ll be there. Noon?”
“Noon. But first, I’ll only let you come over if you listen to the rest of this dialog on using myself.”
“You drive a hard bargain, Mister.”
“May I continue?”
“Yes you may.”
“All right, Aunt Ruth, it’s like this. You don’t want to use myself and its friends — himself, herself, oneself, and all those kinds of words — when the simple pronoun would do.”
“Would do what?”
“Would suffice. You’re distracting me, Aunt Ruth. Let’s keep going.”
“All right. You were saying …”
“I might say that something is annoying to me, or annoying to him, or annoying to her, but I wouldn’t say that it was annoying to myself, or to himself or to herself.”
“When, then, oh Neanderthal of Nuance, how should myself be used?”
“Well, I can think of two general cases that will cover most of your actual need — reflexive and emphatic.”
“May I go now?”
“Hang in there. Now, the reflexive is something like this: I hurt myself, I fed myself, I hit myself in the head with a hammer.”
“I think you hit yourself too hard, nephew.”
“I’ll ignore that for now. Okay, and the other case — the emphatic — is when the pronoun is used for emphasis, like this: I myself can do this, I myself cooked the dinner, I myself ate a gallon of ice cream last night.”
“Wow, that sounds good.”
“The grammar explanation?”
“No, the ice cream.”
“Now, why did you call in the first place, my dear aunt?”
“I … oh dear, I’ve forgotten. May I go now?”
“I guess so. I need to get some sleep myself. Baklava at noon?”
“Me too, Brute’. Baklava at noon?”
“It’s Greek to me.”