By Leo Obrst
Once upon a time, there were dirigibles in the belfry. The owls hated being displaced. They flew into bats. The bats tried to hit all the balls in the world, which generated many oomphs until their sensibility changed. This was about three weeks later, when I was walking by the belfry for the first time in about three weeks and saw first-hand that the commotion had apparently ended. But how could I be sure? I couldn’t. I asked Alice whether she had noticed anything new in the neighborhood.
“Such as what?” she asked me.
I said, “Well, the belfry business. You know: dirigibles, owls, bats, balls. That whole business.”
“Yes,” she said, “I think they called all that off.”
“What do you mean, they called it off? How could they? And who is they?”
“Who are they?” she reminded me. “Subject-verb agreement does matter if you want to speak sense to another person, at least in today’s English. Tomorrow may veer away, but today is what we are after.”
“Ok, I understand.”
It was about three weeks later that I found out what had happened. By this time, I was capably and consistently using subject-verb agreement in nearly all my locutions. So I felt I could adequately respond to questions such as this about multiple conjoined subjects such as dirigibles, owls, bats, balls, and their events and behaviors, at least over some recent time frames.
The answer, it turned out, was that the dirigibles, not seeing much future in the sky, given the Hindenburg and similar events, had all agreed in their many forums, group mind kinds of interactions they participated in as part of their sociology and culture, that they would alight from the sky. I was quoted this: “alight from the sky.” It wasn’t my phrase, these were not my words, but those I heard and transposed onto paper, well, the paper equivalent via electronic means. I mean Word.
But they hadn’t considered the displacement effect, i.e., that other beings would have to be displaced from said belfries, given that they were already present and resident in such belfries, and as you can see, this began to raise all kinds of legal issues. Party of the first part, second part, kind of stuff. Because it was done preemptively, without regard to said property rights of party of the second part, etc., party of the first part derogated party of the second part in the exercise of their unassailable rights of possession, i.e., possession is 9/10s of the law and not, contrarily as the dirigibles had argued, finders keepers, losers weepers, and various other non-standard codicils or pithy statements thereto.
Well, the dirigibles and owls were in dispute, and secondarily, the owls and the bats were in dispute, and tertiarily, the bats and the balls were in dispute, and quaternarily, the balls and various animates were in dispute. Could justice fall like dominos? No, of course not. So, in the course of those three weeks, law and proper practice were adjudicated and the result overturned the recent cascading events, and the preceding order was restored.
In the process of my understanding all the recent occurrences, I shored up my knowledge of subject-verb agreement and was able once again to satisfactorily communicate with my neighbors.