Commas Matter – My kids make me laugh

Commas matter, and punctuation makes my kids laugh.   Well, more accurately, my sons’ comments about commas make me laugh. So do my husband’s comments about the essential differences between “tamal” and “tamale.”    And his comments about goose hunting?  Priceless.  (Or was that geese hunting?)

We were eating Mexican food at a local restaurant recently when I ordered a plate that I thought came with four items (a cheese jalepeno, a tamale, some rice, and some beans).  My husband said to expect five because tamale is plural (if it was only one, it would be “tamal”).  The plate arrived, and there were only three items.  A cheese jalepeno tamale (singular), some rice, and some beans.  It was good, but I was a little confused and disappointed that I didn’t get a cheese jalepeno.   (no, i don’t know what a cheese jalepeno is, that’s why i ordered one.  i wanted to find out).

I asked the waitress for a menu to clarify what I’d ordered.  That’s when I spotted the COMMA where it didn’t belong — right between the words jalepeno and tamale.

I carefully explained the matter to my waitress.  I did not complain or argue.  I was working really hard to have an adult conversation about misrepresentative descriptions on menus.

My son yells “grab some water!  Let’s scrub all the commas off the menus!  Commas are wrong! Commas are EEEEEEEVIL!!!!”

The waitress and I both lost it.  She (thankfully) understood my confusion and said she’d raise the issue with management.  I doubt they will revise a menu just for that silly comma.  I just know I won’t order the #10 lunch plate again expecting to find a cheese jalepeno.  The food was good, I’m not complaining.

My husband then proceeds to get back on the whole “tamale” versus “tamal” discussion.  He said it was like “geese” versus “goose.”

Me: So would you order 2 tamales or 2 tamal?

Him:  You would order 2 tamal.  1 tamal would be redundant.   You could say “I want a bunch of tamale” but if you have a number, you use tamal.

Me:  Huh?

Him:  It’s like hunting.  I can say “I shot 6 goose” or I can say “I shot a bunch of geese.”  But you would never say “I shot 6 geese.”

Me:  Well, yes I would.  And who is cleaning and cooking all those gooses?  I mean geeses?  I mean geese.

So the kids and I want to know if we can go comma hunting.  What’s the plural of comma?  Commas?  We want to go wipe all the evil commas off the menus.

And I still want a cheese jalepeno.

Um, care to weigh in on the big “tamale” versus “tamal” debate?  Are you passionate about protecting the English language from errant Comma abuse?  Care to share how your kids have made you laugh this week?

ps – writing a post about grammar errors has driven me nuts.  i’m sure i made at least one mistake that my english teacher would want to correct.  sorry.

Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. hahahah…So. Much. Awesome.
    Emily recently posted..Homemade Cheesy Bread: The Easy WayMy Profile

  2. I think I need to re-write this post as part of the Mr Engineer series. The whole tamal/tamale thing needs to be explored further.

    susan recently posted..My Kids Make Me Laugh – Turkey(s)My Profile

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