Most of us have had moments when our brains temporarily abandon us. We turn north to go to work when really we need to go to the supermarket down south. We can’t remember the name of the curly-haired guy who starred in Blazing Saddles but we are sure his name starts with an “L”—only to find that the “L” is in the middle of Gene Wilder’s name when we finally remember it. Or, like my husband and I last weekend, we forget something ridiculous. We had decided to stop at that supermarket that is like Whole Foods but isn’t and whose name, I was sure, involved a fruit. It wasn’t until we drove up to the store that, because of the large sign, we finally remembered: Sprouts. I have no idea where the fruit idea came from.
My brain outdid itself on a recent trip to New York City. Three friends and I were at a performance of the play “Hand to God.” (You may have heard of this show recently. Evidently an audience member climbed onto the stage before the show to plug his cell phone charger into one of the “plugs” on the church basement set.) The show is about a timid teenager who is part of a puppet ministry and who has many good reasons to be quite angry about life. His puppet, Tyrone, takes over and becomes the voice of the boy’s anger. Tyrone is outrageous, profane, and quite physical. He is also laugh-out-loud funny. The actor with the puppet makes no effort at ventriloquism. He simply speaks the lines for both his character and Tyrone’s, and he is quite brilliant.
I noticed during the show that it was sometimes a bit hard to hear all the dialogue, even though we were sitting pretty close to the stage. I wondered why the actors seemingly weren’t miked. With a tiny bit of smugness because I have had experience with microphones and stages, I turned to my friends at intermission and told them I’d figured out why they weren’t using mikes. “It would be just too difficult to mike a puppet, the way he moves around so much and is so physical.”
My friend JoLynn gave me a long look. “Cheri, you do know Tyrone isn’t real????”
It took me a moment. The actor was the only one who would need a mike. Of course.
Sigh. I’ll never live that one down.
But embarrassment is not why I almost didn’t write this story. It was because of the pesky abbreviation of the word “microphone.” I simply can’t bear to write it as “mic,” even though that spelling is common, especially, as one person put it, “in audio and engineering circles.” “Mike” seems to be the preferred spelling in most dictionaries, but Grammar Girl writes that she always uses “mic.” But what happens when you want a past tense verb? “Miced” looks decidedly weird and much like it might involve rodents. I went online to research the matter.
Well, my goodness. People certainly have quite passionate opinions on this matter. My favorite examination of the issue is in a blog post called “Mike, dammit,” by Samuel Bayer. He's on my side, and he gives lengthy and well-researched reasons for his stance. Word nerds, take a look. You won’t believe how much he has to say on the matter and how much angry readers have to say back.
I’m sticking with Bayer. Tyrone was not miked because Tyrone is not real.