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A madman loose in the world

Semi weekly columnist reveals some personal traits that make him unique

My wife believes I’m strange—or at best, eccentric.  So that I don’t miss the point, she explains why I’m the weirdest character since the creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

First, she outlines my need to be in the dark. When I arrive home in the early evening, I don’t immediately turn on lights. I can handle a faint greyness or less than blazing light.

Sometimes I’ll rock in a chair in a dark room for a while, contemplating the sins of my day. I really don’t like to be in a house that is lit up like a ship. I suppose I must have enjoyed the dark in my mother’s womb, and there are family stories that I took a long time to emerge.

At night, when others are sleeping, I slip onto my deck in the dark and watch the moon meander across the sky. Complete darkness is astonishing, but even moonlit vistas are acceptable.

Second, she describes my penchant for wanting lack of noise. She can’t understand why I rarely turn on the radio while we drive. I’d rather talk quietly with her than listen to the bam-bam-bam of the latest indecipherable tune.

When I’m the first one to enter the house after work, I don’t turn on the television or the radio or play cds. When others enter the house, they find me peacefully in a corner with a glass of wine or a book in hand. My wife, in contrast, cannot exist in the house without the television on—just for noise, she says.

I detest getting on an elevator only to discover sugar-sweet music is playing as I ascend or descend. Worse than that is programmed music on telephones while I’m waiting to be connected.                                                                                                                                           Sporting events in major arenas are problematic for me, too. I can’t believe we need head-pounding music every time there’s a break in the action. Do they think we’ll get bored if it’s quiet for a few seconds?

My wife remarks that I’m as spinny as a Luddite, linked to those opposed to technological advances in the world. I’m not against these new devices; I’m mostly irritated by their overuse and often public misuse. For example, I have a cellphone, though very few would know I have one. I have it for my own use for a few selected people, and I have it for emergencies.

When I watch other people always checking their phones and always texting, I feel as if technology has control of them. I don’t need to know immediately when something happens, or that my friend has now finished eating his toast.

My wife thinks I’m bizarre because I can’t leave spelling and punctuation errors alone. If I find them in people’s emails, often in my response, I include a note about the errors. If I see a carefully designed but error-ridden poster on a wall, I will stop and mark in the changes.

She knows I’m a fanatic when it comes to apostrophes. She agrees with my friend Jack that the apostrophe is a dying—if not dead—punctuation mark. Strange that I insist on writing “Jack’s antiques” or “Alexia’s hobbies” because I believe the English language is more precise with apostrophes than without them.

For me, to leave out an apostrophe or to accept bad spelling is like leaving off the gloss or using the wrong wax in finishing furniture. I tell one of my friends that he wouldn’t put up with scratches in a fine piece of sculpture or cracks in the latest bath fixture.

So why should I put up with scratches or cracks in the English language?

At any rate, strangeness seems to be a feature of my being. Then my wife tells me she’ll hang onto me anyway.

“At least life hasn’t been boring with you around.”