Rural Living

Funeral For a Fiend

Laying a Torturous Typo to Rest


by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

I’ve got some ’splaining to do.     

In my excitement to let you know about my new book, A Party of One, and how you could order it, I created the chief thing that makes journalists cringe: A typo.

I’ve been writing this column for 13 years. In that time — some 130 issues — there has never been a typo in Rural Living. Maybe that’s the sign of a good editor, which Bill Sherrod surely is. Maybe it’s a sign of my obsessive-compulsive perfectionism. Sadly, in this instance, I believe the whole thing was my fault.

Before we wander any further, here is the correct email address to order the book: It’s a cumbersome email address that often confuses me. Emails are usually a .com or a .net or a .org. Rarely, if ever, are they a But that is the case with The Recorder.

When I grabbed my March-April issue out of the mailbox and looked at my column, elated that the little ordering blurb would be at the bottom, I gasped. It was wrong! Worse yet, this is one of the two issues a year that cover two whole months. Geez! It made me kind of sick and queasy.

Of course, typos can make any journalist feel queasy. I remember one story I wrote years ago about a fish-kill in Warm Springs Run. What killed the fish, according to my printed story, was “swimming poo discharge.”

While that would be lethal, no question, it was really the chlorine in the “swimming pool discharge” that laid waste to the once-happy little fish.

Back in the old days, before all sorts of privacy restrictions, the Bath newspaper ran a nice little column about folks admitted to the hospital. One that stands out in my mind is this: “Our friend so-and-so is in room 124; stop in and say Hell to him.”

One of my favorite typos — and a journalist’s favorite typos are never his or her own — was this one. A notoriously cranky and argumentative fellow died. His obituary read, “Pallbearers will be chosen from among fiends attending the funeral.”

Perhaps that wasn’t a typo, after all.

Sometimes, all the words are spelled and used correctly. The trouble is, they just don’t “read” right. A syndicated column by Dr. Donohue proclaimed this: “Starvation can lead to health hazards.” You think?

Typographical errors can be found most any place. A proud third grader once showed me a trophy he won at, according to the brass plate, “the annual speeling bee.” He may not have appreciated the irony, but I’ll bet he could speel

it properly.

I rarely find myself awake enough to enjoy The Tonight Show. But when I know Jay Leno will be mocking headlines, I try to keep my eyes open. Here are a few of my favorites: “Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers.” That’ll teach ’em! “7 Foot Doctors Sue Hospital.” “Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges.” And finally, “Kids Make Nutritious Snacks.”

Sometimes, my mind makes a “typo” when I’m singing at church. I’ve got one of those “belter” voices, so mistakes don’t go unnoticed. During my fourth Mass one Easter Sunday, I was supposed to sing, “The right hand of the Lord is exalted.” Instead, my frazzled mind substituted “exhausted.” Another time, I boomed out, “Let angels prostate fall.”

But I don’t think I’ve ever cringed more than when I noticed my own mistake here in our last issue. Oddly, despite the unfortunate typo, the most amazing thing happened: Some readers — I call you “the stalwart brigade” — actually managed to figure out how to order the book. Some of you ferreted out my email address and contacted me directly. It was nice to hear from you. Some of you looked up The Recorder online, and managed to discern the correct address. Others simply called the Cooperative Living office and asked.

I apologize to my esteemed colleagues at Cooperative Living. I know they have their hands full, getting this wonderful magazine put together and printed and delivered into your mailboxes. Yet, they were kind enough to forward me your emails, and your phone numbers (lots of you don’t bother with email), and did not complain. Somehow, we all made it work.

So, let’s get this straight: If you’d like to order A Party of One, call The Recorder, 540-468-2147, from 9-5 Monday through Thursday. Or, email them at I’d better check that twice. Yep. It’s correct, at last!  


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