A story from my husband’s misspent youth:
Min and Glenn were away one weekend with a group of friends. Someone had made dinner and it was the boys’ turn to do dishes. Glenn grabbed the Pine Sol.
“What are you doing?” Min asked. “Isn’t that poisonous?”
“Just watch,” Glenn said.
He began washing the dishes with Pine Sol, and Min began dutifully drying them.
Within two minutes, one of the girls walked through the kitchen, gasped, called them incompetent, and kicked them out.
“See?” Glenn said.
I thought of this story while indexing a few days ago. I think I index with Pine Sol. Should one list delusions and hallucinations separately in an index, or put “see hallucinations” under delusions? Should boa constrictors be listed under predators as well as individually? Is anyone ever going to search for the island of Giglio in an index?
I’m sure there are answers to these questions. Just as I’m sure there are rules about where to alphabetize names beginning with “St.” But do I ask anyone my questions? Do I check other indexes? No. I muddle through with my Pine Sol, on the assumption that a kind editor (thank you, Tanya Trafford) will soon kick me out of the kitchen and take over, with the real dish soap in hand.
I’m constantly surprised they let me write books at all.