By CARIN MOONIN
This week, my husband and I hung out in the Russian part of town.
“Here’s the thing about the Cyrillic alphabet,” he remarked. “At first, it looks like you should be able to read it. But when you look at it again, you totally can’t.”
He was right. Russian does look tantalizingly readable—until you realize it’s Russian.
I remember in high school, a bunch of kids went to Russia on some exchange program. When they returned, they all wore these t-shirts with what looked like “MOCKBA”printed across the front. It indeed mocked me, because I never knew what it meant. But I referred to these kids as MOCKBA from then on, and I still don’t know what MOCKBA means.
Actually, wait. Let me Google it.
Oh, Google! Revoker of dreams, explainer of sorrows, elixir of stalkers. You politely get things right for us when we’re too lazy to bother otherwise, with your gentle suggestions of, “Did you mean [the correct word],”or “Showing results for [the correct phrase],” instead of MOCKBA-ing our foibles.
Before you, Google, we couldn’t spell shit! We only confronted the age-old, existential child’s question of “How can I look it up if I don’t know how to spell it?”
Much the same way I want to pause a song on the radio before I realize it’s not Pandora, or execute an “undo” command whenever I speak in public, I sometimes wish there was a living, breathing autocorrect—outside the world of technology, that is.
But then I realized there already was one.
Correcting people is…more than just a tic for me. It’s a biological need: like a fart after holding a big belly of gas in for hours, or the pee after a bathroom-less road trip. Unpleasant that I have to do it, but it needs to get done, and I’m the only one who can do it.
I try to correct as gently as Google does, but my results vary.
Is correcting judgy? Annoying? Or necessary and under-rated? Who cares? Unless you are, like, the Dalai Lama, you will find the need to set people straight on something at one point or another.
This week, my dad was in town. And I swear to you, there is no one you have the need to auto-correct as intensely as blood relations. I love my parents, really I do, and they are still totally with it mentally and truly mean well, but, Dad, Goddamn it, I’ve lived here eight years, there is no “gone” in “Oregon,” the cat is male, and that burger you are ordering is not called a bison burger, it’s called a Bijou burger because that is the name of the restaurant we are sitting in or you can just call it a burger that has no bison in it and OMG Dad you just did it again and at what point in your language development or processing does Bijou = bison?!
I’m pretty sure my internal auto-correct overheated when he was here (and if you’ve ever been around family for any extended period, you know that the only coolant for an overheated internal auto-correct sensor is alcohol).
My auto-correct also short-circuits at poor celebrity baby name choices. Even though it’s been weeks, when I hear (or type) North West, it makes me feel like I’m biting down on aluminum foil. But at least that’s pronounceable? Mostly? (Though I’m sure my family could find a way...)
Anyone get your name wrong? Is that an auto-correct trigger for you, or do you just not care anymore? Kind of sad, right? (My name is pronounced “Karen,” in case you’re wondering.) I got over the fuck-ups long ago. Instead, I started enjoying collecting all the misnomered junk mail I received. My favorite unintentional alias: “Quarnie Moonman.”
What’s your auto-correct trigger?
Carin Moonin is a writer living in Portland, Ore. Sometimes she'll even tweet about things she hates at @carinwrites.
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