Afraid of “me”
Afraid of “Me”
I am totally perplexed, it never fails to puzzle me, though I must confess, it doesn’t seem to bother others as much as it bothers me. What puzzles me most is the level of education these frightened people have had, very high. For example, a novelist whose recent book was among the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2011 wrote: X’s parents arranged a dinner in their home and invited both Y and I.
I gasped! I couldn’t believe it. Even if the poor guy, distraught about other things, had “misspoke”, where was his editor? Later in the same book, the author did it again, convincing me that his editor – we are talking here of a literary publisher of the first order – is also afraid of “me”.
Gradually I became hypersensitive to this fear. Not only did I see examples of it on the printed page and on my computer screen, one day, just about lunch time, I turned on the radio and heard a highly educated health care professional (o.k. a doctor) on his own weekly radio program say: Let’s put you and I into the mix….
No way! What’s wrong with “me”? I was soon inundated with further examples: Sally, who is a lawyer, wrote to a colleague: Someone sent a clipping about an important legal opinion to Fred and I…..
And Marty, a physicist wrote to friends about a co-incidence: It often happens to my wife and I…..
And Mrs. Harley, a registered nurse, wrote about a natural remedy: It has helped my sister and I…..
I, I, I! AIE, AIE, AIE! It dawns on me – it is not the level of education, it is not education at all. It is – surprise, surprise – a psychological problem -with a large admixture of socio/cultural bias.
NOTE TO THE READER: I have pre-tested this piece on three readers and three out of three thought it was about grammar. Yes and NO! Please re-read the foregoing paragraph and do take note – this one is in my column called Cabinet Privé. Private Practice – don’t be embarrassed!
Throughout history one generation or another has been branded the “me generation”, a label which suggests selfish interests, of course; preoccupations with self, putting “me” first. Well, fine, don’t risk it. There is a solution. Let me explain.
The word “me” is never used as the subject of a sentence except by very young children and sometimes people who are learning English as a second language. “Me want more cake”, a baby might say. And the word “I” is never used as an object in a sentence. “Would you please give “I” another piece of cake?” I don’t think even a baby would say that!
Even if you are one of those people who really don’t care that much about grammar – subject/object – who cares? – even you, would you ever say, “Someone sent a clipping….to I?” Would you say, “It often happens to I?” Can you hear yourself saying or writing, “It has helped I…..”?
I don’t think so. If you then protest that when it concerns the presence of another person, common decency requires that you put the other person first, fine. No problem.
Someone sent a clipping about an important legal opinion to me and Fred…oops….to Fred and me. It often happens to me and my wife …oops…to my wife and me. It has helped me and my sister …..oops…my sister and me.
Are you with me? Don’t put “me” first, but please, I beg you, don’t eliminate “me” altogether. You are o.k. and so am I. You have no reason to be afraid of “me”.
©Elaine A. Zimbel 2012
Posted in Cabinet Privé