Have youse ever heard of the youse curse? Probably not, because I have the feeling that my audience understands that youse is not the plural of you, that youse isn’t a word at all, but a curse.
Ahh, yes, but what of those others, those who move through life, confidently saying youse when addressing more than one person, and wondering why they never get hired or promoted? Who is to try to rescue them?
They are cursed.
It is the curse of youse. Those who adopt youse as a part of their vocabulary are doomed to a life of missed opportunities, interrupted by occasional moments of reflection when they wonder why things don’t get better. It’s a malignant curse and the victim is totally unaware of the consequences.
Just the other night it happened again. I’ve complained about this before, but I get more emotional about it as the years pass and I realize that many offenders grow older with no improvement in their diction. Food servers are not the only victims, just the most prominent.
“Would youse like something to drink?” was the question asked by the waitress.
Of course I’d like something to drink, but I’d prefer to tell you to stop saying youse or you’re going to be taking orders, clearing tables, and running back and forth to the kitchen for the rest of your life. Not that there is anything wrong with that work, but after a while you will wonder why you never get promoted or hired at a first rate restaurant where the tips are better.
It’s the curse of youse.
I wanted to tell her, but I didn’t say a word. We ordered drinks. A little while later, she was back. Eek!
“Are youse ready to order?”
How would you have replied? What would you have said about her speech? Nothing? That’s exactly what I said, no comment. We proceeded to order and I’m still wondering whether I should feel guilty about my pathetic silence. Should I have risked embarrassing a person or should I have minded my own business? I followed the easy course and said nothing and ordered my dinner.
This person is a high school graduate. How does a student spend all that time in classes and never learn the truth about youse? Are the teachers paying attention? Are the teachers listening? Are they trying to find ways in which they can have a lasting impact on the lives of their students?
I’m depressed that our schools are turning out graduates afflicted with the youse curse. It’s always tempting to blame the schools, but this matter is so simple and so obvious. My remedy would be stern but beneficial in the long run. If they say youse, they flunk.
That would get the attention of both the student and parents and would probably result in some emotional confrontations. But in the long run, the student would benefit. Speech would be improved and the potential for future success would be greatly enhanced.
It was time to clear the the table.
“Would youse like to see a dessert menu?”
Dick Hirsch is a veteran Buffalo journalist and author. He is the author of several books, the most recent of which is “A new bathtub for the White House,” a collection of some of his favorite essays.
Lead image: Photo by Bimo Luki