I’d like to start this column with truly best wishes to my colleague Kelvin Wade, who wrote Thursday about his struggle with a rare condition known as lymphedema.
When he first started writing for the Daily Republic, I thought, well, another liberal with predictable ideas. But I soon realized I was wrong, and have enjoyed reading every one of his columns over the years. So get well soon, Kelvin.
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Now, begging your indulgence, I saw a glaring example of one of my pet peeves in the San Francisco Chronicle. It was the headline introducing the feature story in Wednesday’s business section and I’ve seen and heard it many times over the years. But let me go back to the beginning.
No, I don’t mean the “beginning,” as in Genesis in the Bible, but the birth of this now twisted, distorted and misused expression. It originated in New York – New York City, that is – and became an enormously popular bumper sticker. It said, as you may have guessed, “I Love New York,” but the word “love” was replaced by the icon for a heart. That’s the heart, of course, used on billions of Valentine’s Day cards over the years.
For years, since I lived in New York at the time, we all knew that the heart was to be said and read as “love.” But some years ago, maybe in the late 1970s or early ’80s, I started seeing the transliteration of the heart icon, as, well, “heart.” So that phrase resulted in the annoying, irritating and just plain wrong, “I heart New York.” Just a few years ago, a movie was released with the title, “I Heart Huckabees.”
If I could use profanity, I would tell you what I wanted to scream at the producers of that film – which I never saw – for ignoring the intention of the original slogan. It was then that I had to accept that the battle to restore the original meaning of the bumper sticker was lost. What I am saying: I didn’t accept it at all. I’m sure I’ve shortened my meager life span by at least 10 years by causing my blood pressure to rise to 300/190 whenever I see what the heart pronounced as “heart.”
Fast forward to Wednesday, when I saw the headline in the business report of the Chronicle that read “Marketers Love ‘We Heart It.’ ”
Aarrgghh, I said to myself, hoping that the story would use what I remain certain is the correct saying, “Marketers Love ‘We Love It.’ ” I was going to give up, but after pacing around for a few minutes with steam coming out of my ears, I decided to email the writer. The very pleasant young woman who wrote the story was kind enough to return my message and even suggested we talk the next day. We had a nice conversation, in which she acknowledged, more or less, that I was probably right, but since “heart” had edged out “love” in the popular domain, that’s what we were stuck with.
Maybe the question I should ask myself – and answer – is why I still have, some would say, “hissy fits” when I see that originally logical, memorable saying rendered, well, stupid, as the years have gone by. Surely, there are more aggravating things going on in the world that I could direct my anger at, but I can’t turn down the burner from “high” to at least “medium.”
I’ll close with my wife Clare’s accusation that I wouldn’t have bothered sending an email to the writer if I saw a male’s name rather than a female’s. Ridiculous. Hmmphh!
Bud Stevenson, a retired stockbroker, lives in Fairfield. Reach him at [email protected]