I like to believe that there's some kind of spirit life after we die, whether it exists in a place called heaven or in some other realm we don't know about. If I imagine the faces I might see there, I picture representatives of both sexes, all races, all nationalities, all religions. In my mind, all of our faces are smiling, and we're talking pleasantly in a common, universal language.
Then I think about one particular group of real-life people and realize I wouldn't be smiling if I were forced to listen to them speak for an extended period of time. The more I think about them, the more I'd kind of like to believe they'll be segregated from the rest of us, tucked away into their own little corner of the Pearly Gates Retirement Community. The truth is that if I knew I'd have to spend eternity chatting with people who say "excape," "ex cetera," and "expecially," I might not climb aboard that heaven-bound bus.
I've heard a local weatherman say "expecially" three times in the past week. Each time I heard it, I found myself wishing one of his lightning-bolt graphics would zoom across the screen to zap him in the head and put us all out of our misery.
Is that particular mispronunciation just a southern thing? I don't recall hearing it when I lived in other parts of the country. Maybe I did hear it and it didn't register back then. Maybe I've just grown older and crankier.
Another thing that sets my teeth on edge -- and I hear people make this mistake over and over on television -- is "between you and I" or "he gave it to Jessica and I." The word "me" seems to have fallen out of favor among the young lovelies and hunky heroes who inhabit our TV screens. It's obvious by looking at them that "me" is very much on their minds, but they rarely say the word.
I suspect that the people who are afraid to use "me" as an objective pronoun are the same ones who were instructed repeatedly in childhood not to use it at the beginning of a sentence, as in "Me and Johnny are going to ride our bikes now." They seem to have absorbed part of the lesson but none of the logic.
Anyway, when these people's souls ascend to wherever it is that we all hope to wind up, I hope I don't have to talk to them, either. Perhaps they could be situated between the "ex"-talkers and the rest of us. That way we can at least admire their good looks.
Most of the time when I'm engaged in conversation with someone, it's the content of what they say that interests me, not the structure of it. I'm sure I could fill a fresh notebook every week with the poor grammar I hear around here, but most of the time I don't even notice it. I'd love to know why it is that I can ignore the overwhelming majority of mangled language I hear, yet the two types of errors I've described in this post always, always set off alarms and irritate the heck out of me.
In other words, the level of annoyance I feel doesn't expecially make sense, but I can't seem to excape it.