Sweet Jesus, I’m still alive. Every time I think I can finally embrace the afterlife, some smartass drags me back from the brink. At this rate, I’ll still be around when you rotten humans land on Mars. At which point some funny guy will inevitably invoke Star Trek’s title sequence, which will trigger yet another mind-numbing debate about whether it’s okay to split an infinitive like to go with an adverb like boldly. And when that happens, so help me god, I’ll put a bullet through my head. Because I can’t take it any more.
Yes, I know, I’m a split infinitive. I don’t have a head. Which makes my plight all the more pathetic. I can’t even put myself out of my own misery. I have to rely on all the English-speaking people on this miserable planet to make a pact to stopping talking about me. Like that’s going to happen.
Some of you refer to me as a “zombie rule.” That’s right, I’m apparently something that should be dead, but keeps coming at you, arms outstretched, tongue lolling, ready to eat your brains.
I don’t know how much clearer to make it: The rule against me is bunk. Always been. End of story. You can go fuck yourself now.
Why am I even around? I blame a bunch of busybodies from about 150 years ago who got it into their swollen British heads that the infinitive should be treated as a single unit. This was back in Victorian England, which you may recall was a period of peace and prosperity. Which also means people were bored. And when people are bored, they say and do stupid shit. If memory serves, the conversation that led to my birth, as it were, went something like this:
BORED VICTORIAN BUSYBODY #1: Gee, there’s not much to talk about these days, what with it being so quiet and peaceful all the time.
BORED VICTORIAN BUSYBODY #2: Too right. I’ve been proper bored for longer than I can bloody remember.
BORED VICTORIAN BUSYBODY #1: Here’s a thought, let’s pen a missive against the split infinitive.
BORED VICTORIAN BUSYBODY #2: That’s the ticket! Where’s my quill?
And here we are, decades later, and legions of school children continue to be scolded for doing something that’s as natural to them as a good wank.
I’ve lost count of the times I thought I could finally call it a day, that I could gaze into the death tunnel, see the light, and drift off peacefully to the other side. All I want is to join my friends in grammar heaven, friends like It’s I and If I Were. Nobody talks about them anymore. Why can’t I be so lucky?
What is it about me that make people so crazy? I’m just a split infinitive. I don’t cause war or famine. I sometimes just make things a bit confusing.
I’m so very tired. My life feels like a run-on sentence with no end. I’m the grammar equivalent of that interminable book Ulysses, which, by the way, is total crap.
Some days, I can almost hear the rustling of papers, far off in a cluttered home office, as another closet grammarian emerges to “set the record straight” about my tortured existence. This will take the form of a blog post from someone called “The Grammar Geek.” Oh, how The Grammar Geek will amaze us with his knowledge of arcane rules long forgotten. And you may think, Wow, what pointless drivel. Or, perversely, it might tickle your brain. You’ll feel the urge to add to the comment thread. You’ll convince yourself that you, too, must weigh in. If you’re that person, I have a special request for you: Please don’t. Please stop the fucking madness. I beg you. If I had knees, I’d be on them right now, imploring you with weeping eyes, which I also don’t have.
I know you can feel my desperation. You humans are like that. You sniff out the vulnerable and put the boots to them, over and over again. You’re sickos. I also know that you’re obsessed with trends. Which is why your continued fascination with me is so puzzling. I ain’t trendy, haven’t been for years. At least not since the days when you enjoyed waging world wars and pummeling yourselves to bits on a massive scale. Again, more proof of your perverse nature. So, it’s high time you stopped blathering on about me. Trust me. It’s making you look lame. If you had any sense, you’d move on to something else. Maybe set your sights on the singular they. That twat of an upstart has had a free ride for too long and is due for your special brand of attention. I’ve certainly had my full.