Mary gave me a compliment. She said that on Sunday when she reads The Sun she always reads the obituaries and my column right off the bat. I didn’t ask in what order. Why push it?
Needless to say, from time to time by email, phone, or sometimes in person, readers say complimentary things about the columns I write, and I am grateful for both the attention and the kind words, because so often it is that feedback from readers that fuels me to write yet another and another.
About a month ago, I was in a supermarket in Wakefield, and “Patti” somehow recognized me, came over, and we had a nice chat. One of the things she said was how sick she is of some of today’s expressions in conversation, and I had to agree. We stopped speaking English in this country some time ago. We now speak text or pop culture-isms, or God-knows-what, but in so many cases, it stopped being English or making sense a long time ago. So, it got me thinking.
I’m not sure what bugs Patti, but here are a few that continuously make my own personal “hit parade.” If we’re having coffee, and I ask if you’d like a little more, say, “Yes, no, or not right now.” Do NOT say, “I’m good.” I didn’t ask you about your behavior, tell that to Santa in a week or two. From “good” we go to “bad.” Is there anything more annoying than hearing, “My bad?” What was wrong with “Sorry,” or “I made a mistake,” or just plain “whoops?” And have you noticed, everyone is always “reaching out” these days? “I’ll reach out to Amanda about that.” Why not just say, “call” her? “Reach out was part of an AT&T ad campaign about 35 years ago when they were pushing long distance. Remember, we used to have to pay to call from Westerly to Stonington? They wanted us to “reach out and touch someone.” It was a catchy campaign, but one that’s “so over” now, so stop “reaching out!”
Former President George W. Bush endeared himself to millions of people three days after 9/11, when he stood with the FDNY fire chief on a mound of rubble, covered with soot, wearing a hardhat, and responding to an angry, disillusioned crowd, he shouted, “I hear you. The rest of the world hears you.” But that was a one-time thing and it was a powerful moment in time. Why are we constantly responding to another’s comments, “I hear you. I hear you.”
It’s a small point, I know, but when we call someone on the phone or meet them on the street, whatever happened to “Hello?” There’s something grating to me about “Whassup?”
More? It really gets on my nerves when someone says, “Can I be honest for a moment?” Why, were you lying to us the rest of the time?
I often think of those wonderful people who come here from other countries, and not only make a concerted effort to learn our language, which is not easy, but then they go to classes and study hard to pass the exam and become U.S. citizens. You see their photos in the paper sometimes, and they all look so proud. All dressed to the nines with family members present and smiles all around. Good for them, they have made a great effort and achieved an enviable goal because they wanted to become a bona fide part of this great country, learn our history and laws and truly understand and respect what it means to be an American. But then ... then they go out in the street and what do they hear at work, in restaurants, or in clubs. “Yeah, I got this. I’m gonna reach out to her. My bad. That used to be wicked good, but now it sucks. I hear you, I hear you, I hear you. I got this, okay? Whassup? You woke?” And they’ve got to wonder at that point, exactly who needs to go back to school. I mean, right?
I’ve also never understood an expression that’s frequently used in conversation, “Yeah, no.” Well, which is it, something positive or negative? Think about that newly-minted American citizen. You keep saying, “Yeah, no” enough times, they may think about going back to the Dominican.
It’s no biggie. I am so done with this, okay? Okay.
Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 20 years, including her “In Their Shoes” features. She can be reached at email@example.com or 401-539-7762.