Sunday, December 13, 2009

BOBS, or, ____

BOBS, or, “But when we look around us at the state of literacy – and in particular at all those signs for “BOBS’ MOTORS”….” –Lynn Truss, “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”

But Carmen couldn’t wait, not with that sign in the window. Her mother was an English teacher, damn it. She told Samuel that she’d pay and stormed into the gas station. She saw the clerk and was fixing him with her stare before she was even at the counter.

“I want to speak to the owner,” she said.

“I’m one of them,” he said, taking off his hat. “What can I do for you?”

“You’re Bob, then?” she said, glancing at the “BOBS’ MOTORS” sign in the window.

He nodded and shrugged at the same time.

“Like I said, I’m one of them.”

“One of them?” She gawked. “How illiterate are you?”

Another man came in from the back, this one taller, his overalls stained with oil.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

Bob answered. “I think the lady wants to speak to us about literacy.”

The other man rubbed his hands on his overalls and looked at Carmen.

“There’s a rack of paperbacks by the door if that’s what you’re after.”

“No,” Carmen said, almost stamping her foot. “The sign on your store is incorrectly punctuated. If the store belongs to Bob,” she pointed at the man behind the counter, “then the apostrophe goes before the ‘s,’ not after.”

“Well, yeah,” said the guy in overalls. “But it doesn’t. It belongs all of us Bobs.”

Carmen took a moment on this.

“You’re Bob?”

“Yeah. Bob McClane.” He gestured to the Bob behind the counter. “That’s Bobby Green. His dad’s Bobby Green Sr. I’ve got a cousin, Bob Jaffey. All four of us have a stake in the place.”

“In Bobs’ Motors?” she asked, regretting having not let her husband come in to pay.

“Yeah,” said both Bobs.

She looked down into her purse.

“Twenty dollars of unleaded, please.”


  1. That is fantastic. :) Wonderful work.

  2. I really did enjoy this, even though I could see where it was going fairly early (I think I've read something simialar before). That didn't make me like it less, though.

  3. Please let me know if you remember what was similar to this one, Bernard. I promise I didn't steal the idea - I was inspired by the line in Truss's book and credited her, even though I was making fun of her point. It stings to know that I'm making stuff that isn't completely unique, but I guess it's inevitable too.

  4. John, I really have no idea where I saw it before. I just remember the basic premise was the assumption that a possessive apostrophe was obviously in the wrong place, but turned out to be correct, in a kind of funny way.

    It's a very broad idea, and not one that I think can be "stolen". Like you said, it's inevitable.

    There's actually a chance that I didn't read it anywhere, but had the idea once, and did nothing with it. I also sometimes get a kind of de ja vu when I read or see something that really messes with my head. That's a whole other thing...

    Please don't feel stung. There is nothing new under the sun.


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