Monday, November 05, 2012

Dear Rufus Xavier Sasparilla...

Dear Bitter Amanda,
If a couple has been dating for a while/engaged/married, do you think it's appropriate for one or either of the parties involved to make "we" type statements? I'm not talking about factual statements like "We went to Montreal last year on vacation". I mean statements starting with things like, "We prefer..." or "we think..." or "we feel...". Opinion-y type things. "We really don't like going to that restaurant because we think that the waiters are rude and the filet mignon is dry."  "We like springtime in New England, but we really prefer to go south for the winter." When you are a part of a two, does that mean your partner gets to squish their opinion alongside yours and answer for you? That kind of bugs me. Is it too nitpicky to prefer something like "I think, and I'm fairly sure Buffy agrees..." to "We think"? Because the two people aren't collectively thinking-- each person has come to their own opinion, right? What's your take on this, Bitter Amanda? Identity usurpation or mere grammatical nuisance?
We, we, we, all the way home

Dear Rufus Xavier Sasparilla,
You're hitting on something here that has been the subject of many a rant around my home. Pronouns ARE tricky! Ask any first grader. 
This is a complicated subject. What is the boundary for the "we" mentality? For me, part of the issue is the situation. If I'm having coffee with a friend, and I ask what she did last night, I'm weirded out by "We went out for burritos." I think back--was I there? Did I have too many margaritas and forget that we went out together, yet miraculously wake up feeling fine? Or is she referring to someone else? I look around, wondering if a third person joined us and I didn't notice. Oh it an imaginary friend? Has my friend finally lost it?* "We went out for burritos," is acceptable if I have coffee with my friend and her boyfriend. Otherwise, I worry a lot less when she says, "I went for burritos with Boyfriend." You see what I'm saying, Rufus? 
I'm leery of group opinions, on some level. "Oh, we love IHOP. Best pancakes in the tri-county area." Suddenly, I am convinced IHOP is A Couple Place. I can't go to IHOP anymore?? When did they decide it was A Date Restaurant? Where can I get pancakes now? Will they still let me get a table for one? Or will they bring me my pancakes with side orders of Sympathy and Judgmental Glances? I DIDN'T ORDER THOSE. 

Wait, what was your question? Oh, right. You're not being nitpicky. I worry that excessive "we" statements show getting lost into a relationship, absorbed into being part of a pair, rather than being your own person. So...I think it's both of your suggestions: identity usurpation AND grammatical nuisance. 
Solitarily yours,
Bitter Amanda

*Let's be honest, if anyone is going to have a psychotic episode where they go to dinner with an imaginary's going to be me. 

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