It was a pretty innocuous thing. We were out of juice, and since Sweetie was going to the store that morning, I asked if he could pick up some. “Put it on my list!” he called from the shower, which he had left atop the microwave. So I went to it, idly glancing at what items he had already amassed: light cream, yogurt, bread, banana’s–
I stopped dead. Oh no – in my own home? I grabbed the list, storming into the bathroom. “Banana’s?!” I cried. “BANANA’S?”
He stared at me, washcloth in hand. “Right. Bananas. Jesus, what’s the problem?”
I could barely sputter the words. “Look!” I said, holding up the slip of pink scratch paper. “Right there!” I said, pointing to the tiny blip of blue ink between the third a and the s. “What’s that!”
“What’s what?” he said, squinting through soap and the shower curtain.
“THAT!” I said, flicking the teensy squiggle. “You put an apostrophe before the s! You did it to make a plural!”
He looked at me like I just grew a third eye. “No I didn’t. And if I did, I didn’t even think about it.”
My jaw dropped. “You didn’t even think about it? All your life you’ve been reading and writing and pluralizing words just fine and overnight, the rules of grammar change and you don’t even notice?! My God – it’s like aliens have abducted our collective grammatical knowledge! They must be planting billions of plural-snatching apostrophes in our brains while we sleep!”
He twisted a wad of washcloth into his ear, cocking a brow. “You want the bananas or what?”
It was all I could do to whimper. How did this happen? I saw a sign at an ice cream parlor the other day: Birthday Party’s Available. And at a fast food joint down the Shore: Best Burger’s on the Island! Granted, sometimes possessive apostrophes get sloughed away when the word grouping falls into popular parlance – Pikes Peak, is one, and in my home state of New Jersey, the town of Toms River, the county seat. But where did this aberrant pluralization come from? You can understand wanting to abbreviate by taking something away, but this is ADDING baggage. Unless, as in the case of Birthday Party’s, the writer was absent the day they gave a lesson on turning words that end in y’s (yes, this is correct according to the AP Stylebook) into plurals by adding -ies. No. That can’t be it. It’s just too widespread anymore. An epidemic. With no vaccine in sight.
Which can only lead me to one conclusion: it’s those darn aliens. So close your windows at night, keep a Strunk and White at the ready, and a firm eye out for pods in the basement.