Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Blind Feeling the Wife

When I was little, my mom and dad arrived home earlier than expected from a party. My mom explained to me that they left early because everyone started playing a game they didn’t like. In this game, someone was blindfolded, and the blindfolded person was to see if he or she could identify his or her spouse by touching members of the opposite sex.

My mom sounded kind of disgusted when she told me, and I remember thinking that it did sound like a super boring game. But for some reason it stuck with me, and then at some point when I was older, it hit me: those adults were dabbling in some light swinging. (And that my parents are total prudes!)

Even though I would really only want to play that game if I were partying with Jon Hamm, Clive Owen, and Johnny Depp, I always wondered if I would be able to identify my partner through touch. 

I would feel badly if I wasn’t able to. What I mean by that is that I would be bad at feeling in the sense that I would not be good at perceiving or examining by touch. 

I would also feel bad if I couldn’t identify my partner.
By that, I mean that my state of mind would be affected: I would feel inadequate because I hadn’t memorized every inch of his body.

Feel is an interesting verb. It swings both ways. Sometimes it’s an action verb and sometimes it’s a linking verb.
An action verb is just what it sounds like: a verb that expresses an action (e.g., jump, run, grope).

Feel can be an action: 

My hand must have slipped; I meant to feel her arm.

A linking verb, on the other hand, describes a state of being. It “links” the subject to an adjective (a word that describes the subject). Some of the most famous linking verbs are is, are, were, was, and am. For example, in the following sentence, the linking verb are links the word biceps to a word that describes them: 

His biceps are larger than her husband’s.

Feel can also link a subject to a description of that subject: 

I feel excited when the blindfolded man touches me.

I feel bad that I feel excited when the blindfolded man touches me. 

The moral of the story is that it’s correct to say “I feel bad” when describing your state of mind. 

Now, who wants to play?


Shelly said...

Gosh, you are good. You take us from swinging adult parties to correct word usage so seamlessly that it is exquisite.

Mark said...

And yet Shelley, with groups such as "Run, jump, and grope" she keeps the theme where it always was. I didn't know they actually played those kind of games, but I've only recently learned what a key swapping party is. So I'm still very naive when it comes to adult party games. I'm not naive when it comes to word usage, and I agree that feel can be a very fun word. You can even say "I feel like feeling something" or "I feel like feeling something is fun" or just "Feeling things feels fun".

Kelly Polark said...

Wow! Your parents had some swinging friends! Now that's a party! (and thank goodness I've never heard of that game)
You always make grammar interesting!

the late phoenix said...

ah, yes, just pieced together that pic, love that movie, actually watched it for the first time just recently after hearing years and years of buzz about it from the online experts.

this lesson reminds me of an acting class i took where you spent five minutes on the ground with your partner just touching each others' faces, hands, fingers, arms...wait, was that an acting class or am i remembering something else?

i feel comfortable revealing to you that i was the blindfolded man from last night...

Theresa Milstein said...

What a swinging post! Do you teach this way in your colleges classes? If so, you must be popular.

I never really thought of badly and bad before. I'll have to pay more attention from now on.

Terra Shield said...

Ha ha, a very enjoyable post. I didn't even realise when the intro ended and where the lesson began!

Talli Roland said...

Thank you for clarifying that in such a funny way! I always get the bad/ badly mixed up.

Jo Antareau said...

The verb swings both ways? Ha ha ha - you ARE good!

anthony stemke said...

I always get irritated when I see in cookbooks a direction to use one cup onion chopped fine. I know it should read "finely". So, to me, it follows that I would feel badly, not bad.
You are the expert, I suppose I just do not understand. Finely and badly are adverbs - right?

HulaBuns said...

Oh how I've missed your lessons...and humour! Hilarious and you taught me something. You rock.

Jono said...

Sometimes when I can't find things I am told I don't look so good or that I am not good looking. Should I take this as criticism of my inability to find things or my appearance. I am so confused!
Thanks for the Princess Buttercup picture!

Lynda R Young said...

lol, fun lesson. I'd also play that game with Johnny Dep. I'm so sure my hubby would let me though ;)

James Garcia Jr. said...

"Who wants to play?"

Okay, this is a trick question, am I right? This is a sneaky attempt to find out which one of your blogger friends are the sketchy ones. For that, I will not answer. *folds arms at chest* I will simply plead the Fifth Amendment.


Anonymous said...

This sounds like quite an interesting party. As long as alcohol is involved I am there. I "feel" like it would be a good time!

Dylan Fitzgerald said...


This grammar point is one of my secret, nerdy, snobby pet peeves. Once I said in conversation, "I feel good." Someone thought she was correcting me when she said, "No, you feel well." And I wanted to rip her head off.

JDC said...

Haha would have just made something up to tell my kids about what happened if I had been to that party.

Emily R. King said...

Thanks to Grammar Girl, I have this rule down.

But I still don't know if I could identify my spouse... :)

E.J. Wesley said...

I feel excited when I read an excellent blog post, like this one. :)

Feeling up another person's spouse as a game, huh? Pretty sure people shoot each other for that kind of thing here in Texas, but I think it sounds ... interesting.

We play video games and cards at most of the adult parties I go to. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

I had a comment all ready to type and then I read E.J. Wesley's post right above and forgot what I was going to say. I live in Texas, too. I'm pretty sure about that shooting part, too :)

Anyway, it was nice to meet you on Emily's blog yesterday. And this is a great post.

Jemi Fraser said...

Wow - that's some party game! Love EJ's comment :) Can't say I've ever heard of anyone in the real world playing that kind of game before!

Clyde said...

Ok, I'll play---oh, hang on, I don't have a partner---can I borrow one