How to get properly laid at W.I.L.D.: A grammatical guide
Dear Wash. U.,
Now that we’ve been going steady for a year, I feel we’ve reached the point in our relationship where the honeymoon period is over. You’ve gained a little weight, I’ve gained a little weight and we’re comfortable enough with each other that neither one of us is going to mention it, except 10 years down the road when we try to pinpoint where everything went wrong. But you’ve had some spinach in your teeth that I’ve been afraid to mention for too long: you’re wild with W.I.L.D.
No, this isn’t a letter chastising your free-love approach to alcohol and underage drinking. This isn’t a sounding board for me to spotlight the Emergency Support Team tent, which from an acoustic standpoint might just be the best place to hear W.I.L.D., not that I’m suggesting you arrange a visit there to spew about how much you love Wolfgang Gartner. Nor is this the introduction to a bingo game with squares reading things like “See a freshman throw up the free pizza then go for another slice” or “Get sardined between overzealous, drunk-on-love couple grinding like they’re auditioning for a ‘True Blood’ bacchanalia.” No, this is a bit of constructive criticism along the lines of “Wouldn’t it be great if we went jogging like we used to, honey?”
Since it’s our first anniversary, tradition says we’re up for paper gifts, so here, Wash. U., is my gift to you. On paper, not plastic. Because I’m told that’s no longer allowed. (Note: Please recycle this copy of Student Life after finishing this letter. This being green thing’s in the bag, Bag Use Reduction Committee. Which I really think should be hyphenated Bag-Use and maybe include the word plastic because you aren’t anti all bags, but that’s an issue for another issue.)
You’ve been rather laissez-faire with Team 31 about this whole W.I.L.D. thing—and I’m not just talking about the inconsistent use of periods in the acronym. You’re letting Team 31 cavort around with a concert named Walk In, Lay Down. A concert that’s drawing national attention on the Huffington Post. A concert that you allocate hundreds of thousands of dollars for. A concert that shows SLU we can have just as good of a concert as they can, even without a big-name artist and a solid Division I basketball team. And it’s got a comma splice in its title. Two complete clauses are separated by a comma. In its title. Or, if you trust Wikipedia’s formatting of Walk In Lay Down, the entire name’s a run-on. This erratic punctuation, though, pales in comparison to the most erroneous aspect of W.I.L.D.’s venerated name: the lay debacle.
For matters involving lay (present tense) vs. lie (present tense) when both mean to set/recline, lay requires a direct object while lie does not. As in students lay down sofas at W.I.L.D. They then lie with each other and may lay one another, too. In the first instance, the students (the subject) put the sofas (the direct object) down on the grass of Brookings Quadrangle. In the second, the students themselves physically rest next to each other. The third may necessitate a follow up from Student Health Services—but in nine months Wolfgang’ll be an awesome first name. Things get tricky when you realize lay is also the past tense of lie, but considering the fact the rest of W.I.L.D. is in present tense, I think it’s safe to say lay is also a present tense verb.
We go to a school where everybody scored in the upper echelons of standardized tests—including the writing sections, where such cases of pernicious homophony were all but certain to appear. Yes, pernicious homophony was on my SAT vocab list, but that’s beside the point. The point is Walk In, Lay Down should be Walk In. Lie Down. You get to keep the same acronym, which is really probably a bacronym, which, again, is an issue for another issue. You got University College on the right track with its Mosey In, Lie Down, a more refined, milder version of W.I.L.D. You just have to fix the comma splice with a semicolon, period or coordinating conjunction, such as “and,” and you’re golden.
All of these lay-lie suggestions, though, Wash. U., are operating under the assumption that you’re playing clean. If you meant the second, more promiscuous definition of lay, it may be time for us to see other people. Walk In. Lay Down. Lay. Down. But whom does one lay, Wash. U.? You don’t say. Remember: if you lay yourself, you’re lying. It takes two for that tango. Unless you actually lay yourself. In which case, my paper anniversary gift to you is a box of tissues.