Don’t do it, I beg of you. Don’t make any New Year’s resolutions. They are malevolent, the kiss of death. You’ll be sorry if you–oh. You did already? Too bad. The harder you try, the harder it will be to keep them.
It cannot possibly be 2015 already. Where did the time go? I cannot believe how fast the years go by of late. Years lasted a lot longer when I was a kid. Of course, I was still in school so it is understandable that a year dragged on into infinity back then—until summer vacation, which went by in a flash.
It seems like only yesterday that I was making New Year’s Resolutions for 2014, which I didn’t keep for very long. I didn’t make one single New Year’s Resolution for 2015. To tell you the truth, I’m against the concept of New Year’s Resolutions.
You’ve all heard them–the people who cannot speak without prefacing whatever they say with one or more of the following: Look, I mean, Like, and You know.
We all know at least a few of these people. Their speech is also peppered habitually with uhs, urs and ums. Some of the worst offenders are athletes, teens, politicians, and the talking heads on television.
Yes, I know the First Amendment to the Constitution grants us freedom of speech, but damn! The Founders never had to deal with these grating words, phrases and sound effects that are vocal place holders for those who abhor a pregnant pause or any pause at all, and who refuse to take a deep breath in order to collect their thoughts.
Unfortunately, this speech pattern plague is contagious and it is spreading. You can catch this plague by continually hearing people speak who are infected. Even the articulate are coming down with it. Not long ago, the erudite syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer began delivering his televised comments by prefacing them with the word look. The first time I heard him do it, I cringed and I feared for the end of civilized discourse.
Actually, I should be the last to cast the first stone. I am a recovered You Knower, a graduate of Marianne H’s “One Step Taking-You-Know-Literally Habit-Breaking Program.”
Marianne H was a college classmate of mine who took it upon herself to break me of the aggravating habit of capping each phrase I uttered with the two pointless and annoying words you know. Here is an example of the successful Marianne H technique, which she employed over and over until she achieved the desired result—never again hearing me say you know needlessly.
ME: You know, this assignment is the dumbest ever, you know?
MARIANNE H: No, I don’t know.
ME: [looking perplexed] You don’t know what?
MARIANNE H: You tell me. You’re the one who said you know, and I don’t know what it is that you think I’m supposed to know.
And so the epic struggle began. Every time I said you know, Marianne H said no, I don’t know. She literally took me literally whenever I said you know. Seriously. Constantly. Endlessly. She drove me crazier by saying no, I don’t know than I drove her crazy by saying you know.
Fortunately, the struggle did not end in a stalemate. Marianne H won outright. It didn’t matter to whom I was speaking. If I caught myself about to say you know, I heard Marianne H’s voice inside my head saying no, I don’t know, and I bit my tongue. After a while, I no longer had to monitor my speech to avoid saying it. Marianne H cured me, and I shall be forever grateful to her.
I believe Marianne H’s “One Step Taking-You-Know-Literally Habit-Breaking Program” may also be employed successfully to target those afflicted with habitual utterances of Look, I mean, and Like. Here are a few suggestions for what to say and do whenever the afflicted voice those aggravating words:
THE AFFLICTED: Look…
YOU: [turning your head] Where?
THE AFFLICTED: I mean…
YOU: [looking perplexed] What? You haven’t said what you mean yet.
THE AFFLICTED: Like…
YOU: [shrugging] Like what?
With dedication and perseverance, together we can eliminate a widespread and irritating speech-pattern plague from what would otherwise be intelligent conversation.
Look, I mean, like, shall we give it a go? You know? 🙂