I’m a pretty easy-going kind of gal but like just about everyone else who has ever been in the same room with another human being for more than five minutes, I have pet peeves. Sometimes I let the little, insignificant habits of other people gnaw at my nerves until I want to plug up my ears and scream obscenities. (Ironically, screaming obscenities is one of my pet peeves. What a hypocrite!)
I’ve tried to look at these annoyances with empathy and understanding but it can be really difficult. For instance, when I pull up behind a pick-up truck with “R.I.P. Tommy/ 1965-2007” written in Gothic letters on the back window I try to think about how nice it is that this driver has dedicated his Dodge Ram to Tommy but all I can think of is: why?! And why was the tribute placed so precariously near Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbs) peeing on the Chevy logo?
I also have to whisper words of restraint to myself when I get around an effusively proud mom who is just waiting for you to say something that will let her segue into a treatise of her kid’s many glorious attributes. She operates like a search engine. If you say the right word, she’ll connect it with a brag: “Have I read any good books lately? Well, no…but Little Johnny is reading War and Peace. It’s true and he’s only 4!” Of course, every accomplishment of our kids reflects on us as parents. (The flaws are someone else’s fault. I blame pesticides in produce and the Liberal Media.) So it only makes sense for moms to recount their child’s heroics in the 1st person plural. “We are counting to 100 now” (It’s about time—you’re 30 years old.) “We just made a 100 on our spelling test!” (Okay, spelling can be hard for some grown-ups…) “Wepee-peed and poo-pooed in the potty today!” (Whaaa?!)
Another one of my pet peeves is when people use the word “literally” incorrectly. Here are three examples that I have heard lately made by a reputable historian, an NPR newscaster, and an alpaca farmer:
He was literally straddling two continents. (It was Africa and Europe. That dude had long legs.)
Greece has literally killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. (I hope they made a Greek omelet with it.)
When I saw my first alpaca, I literally stopped dead in my tracks. (Who knew alpaca were so dangerous?)
I could go on and on with my list: there’s the dinner music of slurpy, crunchy eating noises made by dining companions; people saying “duh” when they hear something earnest yet obvious; drivers flipping the bird at fellow drivers; and so on. But the thing that really peeves me is when people always have to be right. We’ve all met Mr. Know-it-All. He’s the world’s foremost living expert and he wants to make sure that everyone knows that he knows everything. As a service to the community, he’ll correct you if he thinks you’re wrong. While I was listening to the radio the other day, I heard a news anchor report that a tractor-trailer crashed in upstate New York spilling several tons of yogurt on the highway. The man-on-the-scene corrected her saying that it was actually Greek yogurt and it was actually 18 tons. Thanks for the vital information, Poindexter. He just couldn’t let it go without having the last word. I asked my husband if he has any pet peeves and he said he couldn’t really think of any. “Sure you do,” I told him. “There’s got to be something that people do that really gets on your nerves.” He said there wasn’t anything. How is that possible? Half-joking, he said, “I just get along with everybody.” And I suppose that’s his key to contentment. He doesn’t let those little things ruin his day or make him mad. He’ll go a long way with that kind of attitude but I have to admit that kind of gets on my nerves.