Some years back O.J. Simpson put out a TV special entitled If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened to promote a book of roughly the same name. Regardless of the man’s guilt or innocence, this had to be one of the most shocking examples of bad taste since that time I dropped a 9-volt battery in my breakfast cereal. Who flaunts a double homicide for a quick cash grab? Who plays armchair quarterback for a murder that they were acquitted of? O.J. Simpson, that’s who. The balls on this guy! He might has well have been driving around with a bumper sticker on his Bronco that read, “My other glove is bloody too.”
I haven’t seen the special, and I can’t say that I plan to, but the thing that I really find especially creepy is the way that the title is worded. Properly and consistently speaking, the second clause of the sentence should have continued in the same hypothetical vein as the first. In other words, it should have been If I Did It, Here’s How It WOULD HAVE Happened [Emphasis mine. Well… I mean, I added those words, so of course the emphasis is mine, but I’m saying that if that had been the title, then they probably wouldn’t have put such an emphasis on the words that I added, because that would be kind of weird. I’m just doing that to make a point that those words really should have been… Hey, are you still reading this?]
As it stands, however, with the hypothetical pretext dropped for that second clause, it comes off sounding more like a tired confession, rather than the rousing party game of “What if!?” that O.J. seems to think he’s proposing here. It’s almost as if you hear a sigh at the beginning of the sentence, the conditions of the “if” already met and now conceded, with nothing left to do now but break down the details as a denouement to the whole mystery. It’s as if he’s saying, “Well, I guess if I did it, I might as well go ahead explain how it all went down.” Then at the end of his appalling exposition, he just gives that lovable O.J. shrug while everyone else sits there with their mouths hanging open in disbelief. Oh Norbert! We’ll let it slide this time!
I don’t know if anyone else has ever confessed anything so openly through their misuse of the wrong verb form, but leave it to O.J. Naturally, we all know that his stupidity eventually caught up with him when he got arrested for trying to steal back his own memorabilia. Oh Norbert! Let this be a lesson to you kids. Pay close attention in English class or… you know, at least try to keep a low profile for the rest of your life if you get away with brutally murdering two people.