To tell a compelling story…

Your slip is showing…

Posted on: July 7, 2010

After two days melting to goo in the hundred-degree heat as I accompanied my teen around his college orientation, I looked forward to three things: air-conditioning, catching up with my Twitter pals, and being able to eat chocolate without a straw and a wet wipe.

I am writing this with my blistered feet propped up and A/C on max. As I sat, thoroughly entertained while Twitter pals Bill Cameron, Jeff Somers and Sean Ferrell tormented each other, Tawna Fenske slipped in a tweet about a simple typo changing a dinner invitation into a sinner invitation, and remarked that the latter sounded like a lot more fun.

That got me thinking about word games, one of my favorite forms of entertainment. And that got me thinking about my own unfortunate tendency toward x-rated typos.  I’m a touch-typist and very fast.  Typing without having to look at the keyboard is a great skill for secretaries transcribing a manager’s memo but for composing at the computer, it has one serious drawback – the brain can’t always match the fingers’ pace. Worse, because the brain THINKS it typed a word correctly, certain – ahem – embarrassing errors aren’t always noticed.

I’m talking about the Freudian Slip. We are intimately acquainted. I frequently type twat instead of that and can’t quite explain twat, I mean that, given that the W and A keys use different fingers. Another error I often make is a space in the wrong spot, so the term “hear that” becomes “heart hat” or something equally amusing.

Over the weekend, in one of Twitter pal Patrick Alan’s patent-pending 1k1hr writing blitzes, I blushed purple when I found this error during review the next day: “She led me by the head into her room, softly closed the door.”   Not seeing it yet? Okay, the POV character in this scene is a teenage guy, who was actually led by the hand, not the er… head.

Oh, boy. I feel another blush.

If you liked that one, you’ll love this one. In my day job as a software technical writer, I used to manage our tech writing team. We experienced some challenges on a project with vacation and sick time overlaps that resulted in a coverage gap. As a new manager, I was eager to make sure such gaps didn’t occur again, so I sent my whole team an email on the importance of knowlege sharing and cross-training on each other’s projects. To get the point across, I decided to use a pop culture reference to Star Trek and typed something like this: “Let’s spend a little time now on a Vulcan mind meld so we don’t have to give up time off to fix problems later.”

Or something like that.

Anyhow, I didn’t type Vulcan. I hit the V twice. (Hey, the V and C are right next to each other!)  So, I essentially invited a dozen tech writers to do a vulvan mind meld with me.

And hit Send. (The irony here is not lost on me.)

About five minutes later, my boss tapped me on the shoulder. A blonde man, a blush on him is instantly apparent. “Ed! Are you okay?”

“Um. Fine. About that email you just sent.”  Ed looked at the floor, at his finger nails, at the bulletin board on my desk.

“Yes?” My desk phone rings and I hit the Send to Voicemail button.

“See if you can pull it back before everyone reads it.” 

“Too late,” the writer who sat in front of me chimed in.

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“Um. Just try to pull it back and delete it. Now.”

The writer in front of me is now laughing. Loudly.

I frowned but did what Ed suggested. My phone rang again and again, I sent the call to voice mail.  I even opened the email and didn’t notice the typo.

“Patty?”

I looked up, saw Ed, my boss, beside me again.

“Did you delete that message?”

I nodded.

“Next time, please edit your messages carefully before you send them.”

The writer in the next cubicle just about fell off his chair at that.

“Ed, what’s wrong? I did edit and I don’t see the problem.”

Ed’s fair skin went from lobster to a shade closer to plum. “You edited? Are you telling me you meant to invite twelve writers to an orgy?”

It wasn’t until Ed pointed to the word that my eyes actually saw “vulvan” instead of “Vulcan.” I am lucky to still have a job.

Don’t even get me started on Word’s Spellcheck. It keeps wanting to change “inconsistent” to “incontinent.”

What kind of typos do you make? Are they x-rated like mine? Or maybe you’ve discovered, like Tawna, that the typo is more fun than the intended meaning?

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10 Responses to "Your slip is showing…"

Ok, I am still rolling on the floor laughing because I could so clearly see you looking at Ed and wondering what the hell his problem was with the pop culture reference. I am so going to be using this in our next seminar on how to compose a proper and correct inter and outer office e-mails.

Thanks for the laugh.

Oh, hell. You mean I’m the Before side of the Before & After chart?

Falling out of my chair laughing about the vulvan mind meld. I might have to try that sometime!

Tawna

I made YOU fall out of your chair laughing? I take that as the highest compliment.

Wait, that was a typo? I was really looking forward to it.

The Vulcan/Vulvan email was sent about six or seven years ago and to this day, whenever I hear from those team members, I get, “Hey, Patty, remember the time you sent that email and Ed nearly had a stroke?” My typos tend to be very entertaining.

At a public speaking event in high school, I was unable to properly say the word “unsuccessfully.” It kept coming out as “un-suck-sex.” This happened ten times in a row. “He tried un-suck-sex. Un-suck-sex. Un-suck-sex. Un-suck-sex. Un-suck-sex.” Finally someone behind me said, “Unsuccessfully,” I said, “Thank you,” and finished the sentence.

Oh, God! This is GOLD! I had such a bad time with HS public speaking, I spent the next 20 years avoiding it in all forms until the company asked me to teach SAP software. Holy crap! I had to stand up in front of hundreds of people? I balked, ended up taking some Dale Carnegie courses to overcome this paralysis. It worked. I still have moments my sons call ‘brain farts’ where the wrong word comes out of my mouth. I’m fun at parties, that’s for sure…

This is awesome. Great story and I always, always, always mix up my words.

Do you do so in your writing? It’s always fun to go back and review what you wrote, scratching your head, wondering “What the hell did I mean by THIS?”

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Hi! Welcome to my blog. I’m Patty.

I'm a writer represented by Denise Little, The Ethan Ellenberg Agency. I love to tell stories, to boast about my sons, to indulge in a serious chocolate obsession. (I often combine these passions.)

During the day, I write software user guides, but at night, I let my hair down... and write whatever I want. (I know. You expected something else. Sorry.) I'm currently working on a YA story about sexting gone horribly bad called SEND. I use this blog to explore my passions.

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