In March, Taylor Swift posted some photos from her trip to an undisclosed tropical location with then-boyfriend Calvin Harris. One caption read, "That time we finally took a vacation." This summer, Swift went on another jaunt with a new boyfriend and a group of girlfriends. Elle covered the resulting high jinks with a piece titled, "That Time Cara Delevingne Scared he Sh*t out of Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston."
The expressions "that time I" and "that time when" have bubbled up all over the Internet, in headlines, in promotions and on social media. Just recently, there was "That Time When Johnny Depp Looked Just Like Justin Bieber," "That Time I Stumped a Gallup Pollster," "That Time I Came Face to Face With an Anti-Semite" and "That time I tried to be a stripper . . . but pepper-sprayed myself in the face."
It's a strange construction, one that doesn't make much sense. Why wouldn't Swift just write, "We finally took a vacation?" Why tack on an unnecessary grammatical flourish?