There are famous lairs and not-so-famous lairs.

This first guest blog is by “KLS”  one of the infamous Grammar Guerrilla Girls….

Dr. Evil and his henchmen plotted world domination from a lair deep under the Las Vegas desert. Lord Voldemort slithered his way into Lucius Malfoy’s mansion, and Freddy Krueger spent his waking hours at 1428 Elm Street.

A lair exists at 404 Clinton Avenue East in Big Stone Gap, falling into the not-so-famous category–or cat-allegory, as some who know it well would say. Tales of the Lonesome Pine Used Books is the “unofficial” headquarters of a small band of women who strive to improve grammar on posters, signs, social media posts, and everywhere else, using red felt pens and alcohol.

When you think about it, a bookstore is the perfect hideout for a gang of grammar gals. They employ simple red ink  to wage war on misused words, clumsy commas, and pesky punctuation. Just standing near the Strunk and White paperbacks, housed on a cozy shelf by the kitchen, magically energizes these women.

The gang embraces technology to carry out its guerilla warfare. Mobile phone cameras come in handy when documenting retail signage that proudly proclaims “Sorry, We’re Open.” The misuse of “There, Their, and They’re” puts us in full battle mode. Red ink freely flows. Driving through a nearby town that displays signs boasting “RV’s are welcome” causes near-strokes. You get the picture. Right?

Cuddling the bookstore cats provides great stress relief after a particularly rough “code red pen” day. An exhausting battle usually includes the typing of crisp rants on social media. At the end of a particularly long month, the friends gather, often at the bookstore, to enjoy a glass of wine, watermelon sangria, or sangria of any sort. These rallies often result in hilarity and hijinks. Many schemes are plotted; most are innocent. Most.

The gals help each other a lot, and I do mean a lot, not “alot,” a red pen offense that makes the blood boil. The gang is always there for each other, even if the help comes via cyberspace in private social media chats.

Who are these gritty grammarians? I’m not spilling the beans, but followers of the blog are in for a treat. Most of the gang will take a turn blogging while Jack and Wendy are away. (See? We’re always happy to help out.) I will reveal a little about the gang, but just a wee bit.

One keeps the others amused relaying the unintentionally hilarious comments of a certain coworker. Another cooks delicious dishes when not working in the education field. One tends to region’s medical needs. And one would admit she is an expert zookeeper at home and at work, keeping the lair neat and tidy. Another is recovering nicely from a medical scare, and raising a young girl who will one day take over the world. One moved away to pursue a career and start life with a gorgeous young man, but she remains true to the grammar cause. And another dabbles in spin when not seeking outdoor adventures that only a woman in full middle age crisis can muster. The last one travels a lot lately. Enough said.

Enjoy their postings in the coming week. Feel free to take your own red pen to the blog as you read. We would expect no less. And stop by the lair from time to time. You may spot a grammarian lurking between the shelves. Look for red ink stains on the hands. A sangria stain on a blouse could also be a clue.

Regardless (not “irregardless,” another red pen offender) we’re out there, waiting to take over the world, one comma at a time.


Filed under bookstore management

14 responses to “There are famous lairs and not-so-famous lairs.

  1. Stacy B.

    I must join you, Grammar Girls! I also cringe when I see misused letters or punctuation!

  2. Respectfully, isn’t THERE a bit of leeway on Facebook? I am guilty along with others of rattling off a comment, noticing that I didn’t capitalize I and then letting it go because it’s just a facebook comment.
    I recognize that that was a long sentence.There are times when they’re really short too. I don’t want to offend the Grammar Girls with their two rules or ten.

  3. Sally Wiggins

    I vow never, ever to type “RV’s again”. I thought it was wrong but it sort of looked right. I’m very grateful to have this clarified. In addition, I’ve always been confused with periods outside quotation marks or inside? Hoping for input on this rule that I’ve always been confused about.

    • British: periods outside
      American: periods inside
      Exceptions: if it is the title of something or just a very short, perhaps one-word quote use, e.g. He said it was “liberating”. Period outside in that case.

      We are period “sticklers”. :]

      However, we tend to be benign once inebriated.

      • Sally Wiggins

        Got it. That’s why putting them inside, even though I’ve been told it’s correct, felt awkward. You tend to adhere to the way you first learned the rules and for me that was in Britain.

  4. Tamra

    It sounds as though the Grammar Girls would enjoy the Wise County Yard Sale Facebook page, where one can buy “genie pigs” and “a nativity with the traditional music and lights”. Upon seeing the latter, I immediately burst into “New York, New York”: start spreadin’ the news…

  5. This reminds me of that famous t-shirt.
    Let’s eat, grandma.
    Let’s eat grandma.
    Commas save lives!

  6. Very enjoyable. I won’t write longer for fear of the GGGs!
    George @ the Acorn Bookshop in Columbus

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