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Grammar Nazi's Retirement Leaves Discussion List in Lurch

Brandon Bruit didn't start out to become the editor of the Friends Of Dade County e-mail list. He signed up for the Yahoo! group, which boasts 200 members from all over the world -- all, like Brandon, hoping to reconnect with childhood pals who moved away from the area. Any relative success in that area Brandon has encountered (including a lengthy online flirtation with a grade-school girlfriend) is overshadowed by the important role he has played in ensuring accuracy in grammar and punctuation on the group.

"At first I thought folks would resent my implacable corrections, but they've all been just great." But now it is time to move on, he says, and leave these duties to a yet-to-be-determined successor. He will unsubscribe from the e-mail group sometime next week, since it has recently become a haven for "die-hard Dolphins fans who can't shut up about Ricky Williams," and, perhaps not coincidentally, have extreme difficulty in constructing a grammatic sentence.

Group members, interviewed via e-mail, were unanimous in their reactions. "Oh, wow, who's going to point out our misplaced apostrophe's now?" wrote Jason Freisten: "I don't know what I'm going to do without Bran's wry pointers on proper usage and form."

Poster Lisa de los Santos agreed. "I'll never forget the time I carelessly used 'their' in place of 'there' in a post to the group," said Lisa. "Bran's input was invaluable in clarifying the difference, which maybe somebody on the list didn't know about or something. So, yes, invaluable."

Bruit has his detractors, however. Says Meg Witliffe, group member since 1996, "Bran is just trying to provide a service, and that's always appreciated, of course -- his reliance on the Chicago Manual of Style, though, is antiquated."

It is believed that a successor will become apparent soon enough, with displaced Dade-Countians signing up for the list from their out-of-state school connections. It can't come soon enough for list member Ron Moore, who said, "My fingers itch every time I see a misplaced comma or, worse, a misspelled word. Before, I knew that Bran would be there. I don't have time to do the job, but it's very very very very important so I hope somebody shows up soon."

(Reported by Brian Jones)

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