Inappropriate apostrophes

Punishable by death!

Something happens to a person when he/she/it becomes an editor. The brain changes, making the editor incapable of going through everyday life without scanning the world for typos and grammatical errors. I can’t eat in a restaurant anymore without copy editing the menu, for crying out loud.

Do you know how frustrating it is when you can’t order a drink because your brain is locked on the fact that the morons who wrote the beverage menu misspelled “stuffed” as “stuufed"? Do you know how much I cringe every time I go to my favorite Starbucks and see that, in the coffee-riddled brains of these folks, they are located not on McCarran Boulevard, but McCarren Boulevard?

However, there is one common mistake that locks my brain up more tightly than any other: the unnecessary apostrophe. Do not ask me why this is. Being an editor, I am no longer able to explain this rationally.

In this wonderful Americanized English language, there are two times when it is proper to use an apostrophe: to signify that there are letters missing from a word, as in a contraction (examples: won’t, don’t and ain’t, which IS a word, dammit), and to signify possession (examples: Jimmy’s mind is clearly fried, but the mental institution’s rates are too high for us to put him in there). In these two cases, the use of apostrophes is not only acceptable, it’s mandatory. But that’s it.

Otherwise, the apostrophe needs to NEVER EVER BE USED.

You know how bad it makes my head hurt to drive by some family’s house, where they have a cornball wooden sign that somebody bought at a craft fair, and it features the unnecessary apostrophe? It is NOT “The Smith’s.” It is “The Smiths,” no apostrophe. Pluralization does not freaking need an apostrophe. Unless letters are missing (the family name is really “Smithenstein,” but they could only afford so many letters) or there are some more words and only one person lives there ("The Smith’s ugly wooden sign"), LEAVE THE APOSTROPHE OUT.

Then there are idiots who take things a step further and throw in an apostrophe every time they see an “S.” They don’t even need pluralization. Let’s say someone is a big Keanu Reeves fan. Your first clue that this person may be stupid is that, well, he or she is a Keanu Reeves fan. But your second clue that he or she may be stupid comes if he or she spells the name Keanu Reeve’s. NO. THAT IS WRONG. THAT IS THE STUPIDEST APOSTROPHE EVER.


And I must say that my life has been REALLY stressful lately, as far as apostrophes are concerned, because of a certain casino show that recently opened. I won’t name names, because I can’t bring myself to write the name of the show without causing a painful seizure because THE NAME HAS A BLATANTLY UNNECESSARY APOSTROPHE. This sucks, because the casino has been advertising the show everywhere—TV spots, newspaper ads, billboards, T-shirts, the sides of buses, in my NIGHTMARES (OK, I might be exaggerating a little, but not much). I can’t get away from that stupid frigging apostrophe.


Here’s what I think: I think there should be a law passed against unnecessary apostrophes. At first, apostrophe freaks would get a warning. The second offense merits some horrid punishment involving a flugelhorn. The third offense is punishable by death.

I know this may sound drastic. But I think I speak for editors everywhere when I say that unnecessary apostrophes must be abolished from the Earth, no matter what the costs may be.