“Hey, look, babe! Surprise ampersand!” you say gleefully to your boyfriend, Mike, while pointing to a round sticker with a stylized ampersand stuck to the brick surface of the foot bridge.
“A huh what?” Mike replies quizzically. He bends over and cranes his head to look at the sticker. “You mean that ‘and’ symbol?”
Your heart breaks into a million pieces as the butterfly of this latest display of linguistic ignorance finally collapses the fragile house that is your love for Mike. He constantly tramples on the English language like a baby elephant trying to walk quietly on a hardwood floor covered with potato chips and you can’t stand it anymore.
You could have cut and run a long time ago with far less heartbreak than you’ll suffer now. The warning signs were all there, plain to see, if only you’d had the inclination to look past his perfect smile and chiseled physique.
Even from the beginning, when you met him in the bar downtown, the band was playing loudly and you couldn’t understand his name at first. Instead of simply saying Michael, he clarified by telling you “Mike, like the thing you sing into.”
The downhill slalom from the peak of the mountain of your love was dotted with red flags, yet like a Picabo Street of romance, you deftly slid around them instead of facing them head-on. When Mike met your mother, he said “Charmed, insured.” Despite your numerous corrections, in texts he’d refer to all the things he “could of” done and use the insufferably awful non-word “irregardlessly.” He referred to exclamation points as “shout sticks” for god’s sake.
So here you stand, on the break-up gangway to the ship of the single life, explaining to Mike why you can’t be his and he can no longer be yours. “You had me at hello,” you tell that lovely face, now tracked with the trails of his tears, “but you lost me at ampersand, Mike.”