Whom, the once-well known English word used to indicate uncertainty in the objective case, passed away this week.
Whom, who had been in poor health for years, finally succumbed to widespread ignorance, chronic texting and seasonal tweeting.
Emerging out of a family of brilliant objective case words including Whomever and the less successful Whomsoever, Whom had perhaps her brightest moment when Ernest Hemingway cast her in the title role in his Spanish Civil War novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls. But Whom was always careful to give credit to poet John Donne, who first put her in that phrase. This unfortunately tended to contribute to the impression that Whom was an increasingly less relevant artifact of a gone age.
As she was used in fewer and fewer books, articles, and conversations, Whom was known to retreat into alcohol and crossword puzzles. Perhaps because of constant inebriation, even when she appeared, she was frequently misused and even mispronounced.
Her marriage to the preposition To ended in an acrimonious divorce. The marriage had been troubled for years by To’s multiple affairs, which were legendary in Hollywood. In a town not known for fidelity, To stood out, even approaching the promiscuous reputations of such legendary conjunctions as And, But, and Warren Beatty. In a revealing interview with TMZ last year, Whom lamented To’s willingness to have threesomes involving not only only verbs, but also adverbs. “Some things are never right. To boldly go and do that — what wife could tolerate that?” The final straw may have been when To was seen often in the company of Whom’s great rival, Who, even in situations that were previously considered, objectively, to be inappropriate, even in Hollywood.
After the divorce, Whom and To could occasionally be found together, but those close to both say it was never the same.
Recently, Whom had a brief marriage to conservative pundit George Will. Friends of Whom say that the slightly younger Will thrilled Whom with his punctilious grammar. And the union attracted widespread attention, as people had wondered for years “With Whom does George Will have sex???”
But the Will-Whom match ended badly when Whom agreed to be used in gay marriage vows and ceremonies, infuriating Will. There were other troubles, as revealed in a shocking tell-all memoir by Will’s former housekeeper and part-time paramour, Whereas. Interviewed after Whom’s passing by CNN, Whereas made clear that the Will-Whom marriage was troubled from the start.
“What Whom never understood is that Will didn’t like her for the wonderful word she was — he just liked the idea of her, because he likes all kinds of archaic cultural relics, like regressive taxation, anti-sodomy laws, bowties, and baseball. Also, and I shouldn’t tell you this — but he has a sick thing for alliteration. Loves it. Trust me, I know.”
“Even though we were after the same man, we were sisters in the struggle to remain part of the English language. I always told her, you need to branch out, maybe get into laws and resolutions. Nobody cares if those are readable. But she was all about culture, all about art. Hey, a word’s gotta eat, y’know?”
At an impromptu memorial service in Los Angeles, surviving members of the Who sang a medley with the 1980s pop band M, including such reworked hits as “Whom Are You” “Whom Do You Love” and “Whom Can It Be, Now?”
Whom’s former agent indicated that she had always wanted to be cremated and spread around in a Romance language country. “They know how to treat the objective case!” she was known to say on one of her frequent vacations to France.