I Go, You Go

New readers of this blog may be shocked to learn that I can be a bit of a jerk. The truth is that I can, at times, be a real ass. As previously noted a few months ago, I can be judgmental, self-righteous, and unabashedly opinionated.

I can be rather intolerant when it comes to bad grammar. My mother reflexively corrected my grammar as a child.  It didn’t matter where we were.  No sentence could end with a preposition. Lazy words, such as Like, were not accepted. This is not a complaint. I never resented her interruptions. I didn’t welcome them. I simply understood that these were serious errors that needed to be addressed.

Did my children resent my policing of their language and grammar? I don’t know. I never asked.

I raise this issue because I have the devil of a time restraining myself whenever I hear adults misuse certain words. The biggest offense, the one that drives me nuts, is the substitution of goes for said or says.

There are days when people close to me completely abandon words such as said or says. The entire retelling of a conversation might include a half a dozen or more goes. Some sentences may include two or three offenses. It takes all of my self-control to remain silent.

Worse, this misuse of the word goes is becoming more common. Today, however, may have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I was at a seminar hosted by a major insurance company. The speaker, nationally known and respected, was funny, informative, and capable of ending on time. All three are very important. Unfortunately, his grammar was atrocious. Among other things, he repeatedly substituted goes for said.

Sitting there, working hard to absorb the valuable parts of his message, I was doing my best to ignore the goes. But he wouldn’t stop. My mother might have interrupted his presentation. I simply repositioned myself in my seat. Again and again and again. The people behind me probably speculated that I was suffering from either hemorrhoids or poison ivy.

So, if a professional, a best selling author and educator, stumbles through the difficult terrain of the English language, how can I judge harshly average Americans who trip over the usage of goes vs. said? I promise to grit my teeth, shift my weight, and to work harder at remaining silent.

I’ll still be a jerk. It just won’t be as obvious.


It was a Christmas Pageant! It was not a holiday show. It wasn’t a December musical. It was a flat out, Jesus loving, 1950’s, Christmas pageant. I was fuming. We, my then wife and I, were in the auditorium of a Westside PUBLIC school to see her young daughters, my step-daughters, perform in the annual program. She was beaming. Me? I was filling scraps of paper with notes. I wondered, silently, how not one student or parent in the entire North Ridgeville school district was Jewish, or Muslim, or an atheist, or even an agnostic. None. Hard to believe. My displeasure did not go unnoticed and she neither understood, nor appreciated, my position.

I wrote last week that we “can spend our time counting and categorizing our differences, or we can learn to appreciate people for who they are, We could easily miss such attributes as honesty and shared values if all of our attention is drawn to our dissimilarities.”

Last week’s post, in general, and those sentences, in particular, elicited at least one person to remind me that I may extol the virtues of being non-judgmental, but I have a history of being quite the opposite.

And I remembered that long ago night of December 1989.

Guilty. I would like to hope that I am both a better writer and a better person than I was twenty years ago. Some posts and some days I am. Some days I fail miserably.

I have been writing for a very long time. I have notebooks and files dating back to high school. I periodically review poems and newspaper columns that I have published. And, as someone who has tripped down the aisle a few times, I have more than enough personal successes and failures to replay in my mind. It is easy, in retrospect, to attribute certain victories to good fortune. It is even easier to point to my own personal shortcomings as the cause of my disappointments.

All of that would, in part, be true.

I would like to hope that I have not repeated the same mistakes again and again. I would like to hope that I am making new mistakes. But, that may be a goal beyond my reach.

I have certain weaknesses. I hate to be taken for granted or to realize that anyone is taking advantage of me. My second biggest hot button is to see some one I love used and abused.

I am opinionated, judgmental, and, at times, a pain in the ass. I once said that I was an acquired taste. My point last week was that we should keep our eyes and minds open. I was noting that we shouldn’t prejudge people who are different than us. I asked my readers to observe and listen. We need to be open to others, but we don’t need to relinquish our core beliefs or values. The acceptance of others doesn’t equal the diminishing of ourselves.

So, I agree with the reader who noted my guilty past. Was she being judgmental? Perhaps, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.