But if you answered B, your career and life options are more limited. The only people who open books to prove themselves right are grammar buffs and blowhard barflies of the Cliff Claven variety. In other words: This choice is not sane.
But we B-answerers shouldn't be too hard on ourselves. We're still better off than the lion's share of grammarphiles who run around telling others what's right or wrong without ever bothering to check first.
In my case, well, let's just say that when I sit down at 4:30 p.m. every week to write a column with a 5 p.m. deadline, it's not exactly in the spirit of inquiry and higher learning.
But this week, things are going to be different. So the rest of this column will be about things I find by opening books, here and now at the cushy hour of 4:15 p.m.
I start by thumbing through "Garner's Modern American Usage" and stumbling across an issue I've always wondered about but never bothered to look up.
Namely, why do I sometimes see "aesthetic" spelled "esthetic"?
"Although some dictionaries have long recorded 'esthetic' as the primary form in American English, the form 'aesthetic' remains more common in American English and British English alike," Garner writes, preemptively pooh-poohing anything I might find when I open my dictionary.
I'm glad because "Webster's" answer leaves a bit to be desired.
"esthetic": "1. aesthetic. 2. of esthesia; having to do with sensation."
This makes it less than perfectly synonymous with "aesthetic," which Webster's defines as "1. of or in relation to aesthetics; 2. of beauty; 3. sensitive to art and beauty."
So, yes, you can get away with writing "esthetic" instead of "aesthetic," but that's not the lesson I'll be taking from this.