Shell Shocked: The intransitive verb blues
As I get older I keep coming up with strange new symptoms. The other day I woke up with a roaring case of intransitive verbs.
I don’t know how this occurred. I’d been eating the right foods to protect me against such possibilities. And yet, despite my diet of subjunctive clauses, dangling participles, proper nouns, prepositions and conjunctions I still woke up with it. I also knew that I had sloughed off recently with my transitive verb work outs in the gym.
I went to my doctor. He was ready for me. He knew a visit from me meant that I was experiencing symptoms that no other patient ever had. He had the medical books on his desk ready to hear me out on my latest medical lament.
“What is it this time?” he asked me warily.
“It’s a case of intransitive verbs,” I reported.
“And what exactly are the symptoms?” he asked. I told him that my toaster was rejecting bread and that I wasn’t able to express myself in transitive verbs.
“Give me an example,” he said. “I can’t come up with a treatment unless you’re more specific.”
“All my verbs don’t lead to a direct object,” I said. “There’s no word that comes to me that tells who or what received the action. This results in incomplete sentences that meander and ultimately leads to grammatitis, a failure to articulate correct words.”
The doctor said “Please, let me do the diagnosis. You just tell me the symptoms.”
“Okay. Here’s exactly what happened. I was on the phone with a friend of mine and found myself saying ‘I’m learning to dance.”
“My friend who is a trained bigamist immediately grasped my issue. He said ‘do you realize you used an intransitive verb?’
I told him that I didn’t realize it but was alarmed by my use of such a verb. I told him that I’ll use a transitive verb in a sentence. I thought a moment and began a sentence – ‘I learned football from – from -.’
Had I produced someone’s name from whom I learned football I would have generated a sentence with a transitive verb. But I couldn’t think of the name of the person who taught me how to play football.
I tried it again with another transitive concept. ‘I punched – I punched -.’ But I couldn’t think of the most recent person I had punched. Again I couldn’t come up with the object of the verb. I began to panic. My friend made me realize that I couldn’t express myself with transitive verbs at all that morning.
“I kept drawing blanks every time I tried to describe the object of my verbs and decided it was time to see a doctor. That’s why I’m here.”
The doctor thought a moment and said: “Repeat after me -I’m here to see the doctor.”
That sounded easy enough. I said “I’m here to see the – the – the.” I couldn’t say the object of the verb. I was blanking out. I had a panic attack.
“Stop panicking,” the doctor said. “Repeat the following – ‘He hit a home run.’ I said “he hit a – a – a.”
The doctor thumbed through his desk medical reference guide. He obviously had never witnessed a case of intransitive verbs before.
His eyes lit up. “I found it in the medical book. It says that the patient must be immediately injected with a heavy dose of proper nouns along with a week-long dosage of dangling participles.
“I did what the doctor ordered and within a week my transitive verbs were restored. But now I suffer from subjunctivitis.
-Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.