Each morning as a writer I dive into a sea of words.
Sometimes I come up with clammy expressions that are better off sinking back to the sandy bottom.
Others I find mauled by tradition-eating sharks who enjoy noshing on my keyboard.
One recentlyI came across was that quaint phrase “after you.”
Here’s a polite formula of words used to suggest that someone goes in front of or takes a turn before yourself.
Think how many “après vous” must have been spoken during the French Revolution. A French noblemen begins to climb the stairs to the guillotine, stops and turns to a fellow nobleman saying après vous, monsieur.
No, après vous!
I’m sure there weregladiators in ancient Rome, not to mention Christians, saying after you to one another upon entering the colosseum. I know I would have.
With so many women demanding equality with men in the workplace these days, after you might not be such a politic phrase to use.
That’s because many of today’s fed-up females with super sensitive hearing will detect a silent, slithery “sweetheart” creeping behind your naive after you.
After you, sweetheart!
No, after you, jerk!
While it’s hardly de rigueur these days, I still hear it occasionally in Publix supermarket, tagged with “young man.” After you, young man.
Oh how I despise that expression because when I turn, I invariably see a younger man gleaming with a sardonic smile. The “young man” of course is meant to make me feel like Methuselah. Thanks a lot, pal.
My soft-spoken, sometimes overly polite grandson Jake brought the phrase’s Jekyll and Hyde quality vividly to my attention the other day.
I let him drive my BMW back from the Sicilian Pizza parlor. Along the two-lane road leading to the bridge, he suddenly stopped to let a car approaching us from the intersection to our right cut in front of us, almost as if Jake had said to that driver after you.
Blinded by the van in front of us, the driver couldn’t see the wave of oncoming traffic after the bridge had just reopened. Naturally there was almost a terrible collision.
It made me think how quickly that uppity after you politeness can turn downright deadly.
So adieu after you.
You can join that graveyard of other gallant expressions, such as . . . allow me to open the door for you, my dear. . . and perhaps now the proverbial pits . . .
I invite you to read my newest book, “Is there enough Brady in Trump to win the inSUPERable bowl?” available on Amazon.