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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

FARBER: Beware of the Mugwort

Published: March 4, 2005
Section: Opinions

A grammatician can be defined as someone who knows a lot about grammatics, and the intricacies of their function within the English language. An ignoramus, though, is someone who knows a lot about ignoring stuff, but knows nothing about grammatics. It would seem to the uninitiated that to combine the fields of grammatics and ignoramocity would be paradoxical, and indeed it is, but I am both anyway. I am also a philosophy major, which means I know a lot about the science of argument validity and contradiction.

Anyway, back in whatever school I was in during 5th grade the beginning of my grammatical training I remember learning about quantity and language, and how quantity could only be applied to those subjects which could be validly quantificated. HA! Of course, as an igno-grammatician, I know the word has a slight chance of being correctly stated as quantified, but I dont trouble myself with the inner crappy workings of suffixes. The igno-grammaticians, as a caste, are above such drivel.

And again, I say: Anyway, back in whatever school I was in back then, I learned that quantitative linguistic words could only be applied to the properly quantifiable. For example, one can say This aardvark is very charming, using the word very to quantify the extent of the charm of the specific aardvark in question, and he can do this with impunity. However, one cannot say This woman is very pregnant, and expect to escape the wrath of the Grammar Squad, a vicious man-eating gang of beefed-up dorks on steroids who would love nothing more than to whack the grammatically-impaired to death with hard cover Oxford English Dictionaries.

The reason one cannot say very pregnant is that, as the obstetricians among us all know, either a woman is pregnant, or she is hiding it by wearing a very tight 19th century corset, but loosen that baby just a bit and the belly pops out like a spring in summer. Or winter. Of course, I kid. Either a woman is pregnant, or she isnt. She cant be very pregnant, or somewhat pregnant, or kind of pregnant, or tropically-fruit-flavored pregnant, though that would be a great name for a shelter for single-unemployed-expectant-hippie-mothers, which in itself would be a great name for an all female a capella group.

So what I learned then in 5th grade was that a woman, being either all or none, cannot be very pregnant. And I accepted that, like the little pisher I was. That is, until two weeks ago, when I had the chance to catch an external view of the uterus of my second cousin. This woman is very pregnant, so much so that if shes not having at least quadruplets, I will collapse and die of uterine shock, despite the fact that my uterus does not, in a technical sense, exist.

But this is not the point. The point is that, as Im sure youre expecting, this very pregnant woman almost got me arrested for smoking fake marijuana. What happened was that the quadruplets were all facing the wrong way, and they had to be turned if natural child birth was the goal. This could not be done manually, for the obvious reason that the placentas could detach, resulting in what doctors call an obstetrical catastrophe, which means that, if youre the doctor delivering these babies, the next thing you have to do is immediately find the nearest window, and jump out screaming.

So evidently, the next sanest thing to do was to get a weed called mugwort, which smells exactly like marijuana, and burn it right next to my cousins pinky toes in an attempt to flip the babies using Chinese/Indian/Pakistani weed magic. Or something. I am NOT making this up. So these weeds burned by my cousins toes, making me reek of what seemed to be pot.

With a pungent aroma of illegal drugs wafting through my body, I began my trek from my cousins house to the University of Maryland, which took me through a Metro station, an Amtrak station, followed by another Metro station, and finally a shuttle. After getting completely lost somewhere in the middle, I wondered through the streets of downtown Maryland for about thirty minutes, looking for someone to ask directions. Luckily, I found a cop. I asked him how to get to Penn Station, but all he did was eye me with a look of suspicion so thick you could cut it with a power saw on PCP. And then he went like this

*Sniff Sniff*

Realizing my own stench and what was actually going on, and noticing that a taxi had just pulled up behind the cop car, I said the following: Nevermind, Ill take a cab.
It has always been my dream to pull off movie lines in real life. And now I had my golden opportunity. I got in the cab as quickly as I could, and fulfilling my dream, I said triumphantly, Driver – Penn Station. And step on it.

Who the hell do you think you are? he asked me.

Im an igno-grammatician. Now drive!