I am an American whose first language is English. I speak the language of Thomas Jefferson who wrote that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I speak the language of Mark Twain, who so sagely advised "The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money."
I am a veteran of 20 years in the ESL classroom. I have spent countless hours explaining the difference between "most people" and "most of the people". I explain to students why using an adjective clause weakens their intent and why a main clause would express their ideas more concisely. I have uncountable nouns for lunch and wash them down with adverb complements and appositives. I go to sleep mulling over the difference between "my book" and "my own book."
I am the geek who thinks language is sudoku on steroids. It is better than the most intricate video game. It is the one art that I actually excel at. (At least in my own mind.) A piece of paper is a blank canvas waiting for me to write a love letter to my wife or express my outrage at the latest political idiocy. I can tell Grandma about the latest, greatest thing that every child in history has done, yet never quite so spectacularly as her grandson just did. I can make a grammar lesson that might explain a tricky point just a little bit differently enough to make a student say "Aha!"
I stop in the middle of a paragraph to admire an especially well-crafted sentence.
I shake my head in disbelief when I see a spelling error on a menu.
I yell at the screen when the CNN crawl details Tiger Woods' latest exploits. (Please tell me you immediately realized the s was missing after the apostrophe.)
I am the self-annointed king of the Grammar Geeks who has inherited a magical language, the most difficult and complex on the planet. I am its steward. It is my job to draw the line in the sand and declare "Thou shalt not do anything on accident." It is my job to defend that line to my dying breath and pass it on to the next generation of stewards, hoping beyond hope that they will care for it as passionately as I have tried to.
Show me where it says in the Constitution that, along with the freedoms of speech, assembly and blowing off my sister's wedding so I can draft my Fantasy Football team live, I have the freedom to butcher the English language and bend it into any unnatural shape I want simply because OMG, I don't get it and Jersey Shore is on in five minutes.
Grammar is like the ocean. There is no need to fear it, and we should all enjoy it. However, we must respect it, because if we don't, a shark might come up and take a piece out of your hind parts.
I am the Great White in an ocean of grammar just waiting to take a bite. That's who the hell I think I am.