It should be noted that I may have included a spelling mistake in the letter to that young woman (from the “Sometimes” post). You’ll notice that at one point in the letter I use the word ‘countenance’. In my rough draft, I misspelled it ‘continence’. I was horrified when I had discovered the definition of that word. The difference in meaning of these two words is devastating to say the least.
Continence: 1. Self-restraint; moderation. 2. Voluntary control over urinary and fecal discharge. 3. Partial or complete abstention from sexual activity. –The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
I had used my word processor OpenOffice.org to prepare the letter with the spell-check option active. Since ‘continence’ is a real word, I was not notified that I had spelled countenance wrong.
I had meant the sentence to read “your beauty extends far beyond just your appearance, it shines in your countenance [demeanor, mannerism, moral support or approval, etc.] as well”, but what she may have received was the unintended “your beauty extends far beyond just your appearance, it shines in your continence [sexual restraint] as well”
All I have is the rough draft. I have not seen the actual letter since I sealed it in the envelope. It is a good bet, however, that she was presented with the incorrect spelling and it’s unintended and corrupt meaning. Did she notice? Was that the source of her fear? Is it possible that she and her family had recognized the word and assumed it to be correct in it’s context?
Now, I am more humiliated than before. I had meant to encourage and thank a woman for her kindness, but instead I may have degraded and embarrassed her. If that was the source of their scare, then they were warranted in their fears. How could anyone educated in the vocabulary of those words read that mistake and come to any other conclusion than what they did?
I can just picture her reading that letter and finding it just as ugly and repulsive as that drawing the character Napoleon gave that girl in the movie Napoleon Dynamite. She and her family must think I’m disgusting.
I am so ashamed. I just wanted to show my appreciation to her for how she had treated me. I am a monster. Anyone who writes something so important in such a careless manner deserves all the humiliation I’ve experienced this past month. I hope she will be able to forgive me someday.