I’ve always thought it a terrible crime that one might say “in retrospect” when looking back upon something that’s already happened, but cannot say “in spec” when referring to something happening at present. Of course, one can say “at present,” but that’s an entirely different phrase. No relation to this mysterious “retrospect.” And anyway, “at present” is boring. It’s as if your mother, perhaps wearing the pea coat and netted hat of her early days, is tapping you on the shoulder and telling you that at present, you are not behaving properly. Spec implies something much more romantic. Spec implies spectacles. Implies, by extension, rose-colored glasses. Implies, then, Edith Piaf, implies Paris, implies yellow lights on the river, dark-capped apartment buildings with balconies pushing out. And since dear Edith is not with us at present (she was once), and since we are currently not in Paris (we have been before), but rather on the living room rug with a sweaty dog leaning against our right knee, “in spec” seems to imply retrospect. So while “at present,” (and this is me blatantly ignoring all free access to the OED which my UMM alum status hath granted me) only implies the current, “in spec,” while referring to living room rug, sweaty dog, right knee, actually encompasses much, much more. Therefore, “in spec,” from now on, must for all romantic souls replace the colorless “at present.”***
I will be contacting Andrew Clements immediately.
***Please note that I (most irresponsibly) watched Midnight in Paris before writing this post.