Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Husband - Literally

While there are many ways I could describe my darling husband (sweet, thoughtful, caring, self-analytical, compassionate, loving, ideologically realistic, and silly being just a few words to start with), I have to confess that there are two words that cannot be left out of any list about him: passive aggressive and literal.

And so when he forwarded me the following emails of an email dialogue he had with one of his teachers (along with his paraphrase of her response), I giggled so hard, my boss came in to make sure I was ok.

For those of you who just don't "get" Chris, try this on for size:

Initial Email
From: Christopher (Student)
To: Teacher
Subject: class assignment

"I have been going by the most exact interpretation of your assignments in your syllabus. If it says "bring in," then I do. If it says, like last week, "find one example of each" but doesn't say to bring it in, then I find it but don't bring it in. So for this week you say "choose 3 examples, then write a paper" but you do not say to bring the examples in. Does this mean "choose" (make my selections) and bring in a paper about them without bringing in the selections? I'm a literalist, so I think I'm not supposed to bring them in. Am I right?"

Teacher Response Email:
From: Teacher
To: Christopher (Student)
Subject: class assignment

"Actually, no. I guess I am not a literalist in that sense. When I say “find one example of each,” I thought it was self-evident that you would bring the example in—how else would I know you had found it? Interestingly, in all the times I have taught this class, you are the only one who has interpreted it “literally.” I can see how you could interpret this in that way; I just haven’t thought of it that way in the past and neither have others. Just a word of caution—you will probably find that a lot of people do not think as literally as you do. So if you have any questions, it is better to ask than to make the wrong assumptions. This also means that you will have to be sensitive to how other people make assignments in the work world—in some cases, you practically have to read their minds!"

Chris' Paraphrase of Teacher Response:
From: Christopher
To: Wife (that would be me!)

Subject: FW: class assignment

Let me paraphrase her response to me, “Who’s a cute literalist? You, yes, it’s you, come here, cute literalist. Come. Come on.”


Almamater said...


Amber said...

My favorite part is her telling him what having a job will be like. Hmmm...he's a student in the adult cohort for people who have jobs. Maybe he already knows this?

Carl Skaro said...

That's Chris. Always literal you have to mind your words comments and make sure you MEAN what you SAY.

Mercutio said...

Apparently, my literalism is legendary. Thanks, Carl! Having someone who has known me as long as you have adds a certain "gravitas" to this blog.

Amber, I had the exact same questions.

My main point was that in her syllabus, the teacher gave DIFFERENT instructions, even though she wanted the SAME results. Why retype, when you can copy and paste?

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