pet peeves

Pet Peeves on Pet Peeves

No. No-o. Nope . . .  No-o-o-o. No! No-u-u-u. NO! We shouldn’t complain.


But here is a list of things that make me snarky, anyway. Some I am guilty of committing myself, while others are pure abstractions. At any rate, it’s what I’ve come up with and would like to share.



10. Belching

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Did you know that when astronauts burp in space, commonly, they also regurgitate their food? Zero gravity, baby. Cows burp too, dogs, lots of mammals. And humans. Usually it’s from swallowing air when you eat, or from carbonated drinks. But, but . . . what I count as my opening pet peeve is not burping, no. But belching. The difference to me is that belching is on purpose. Some people can say their full name in one belch. It’s cute, but damn.



9. Twisting beard hairs

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Not as classy as Pai Mei. What I mean is gnawing, kneading, curling, or otherwise grinding the whiskers under your chin. This is something I do to myself, and it’s annoying. I’ll be sitting at my desk, wearing a clean, ironed shirt, and suddenly I look down and see whole bits and pieces of beard all over my shirt and desk, like bread crumbs, scattered. The worst part of this habit is that it makes my facial hair all mangy. Why must I?



8. Apathy, especially  in social settings

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Bored like it’s the end of the world. You’re at a party, libations are passed, free, the social lubrication high, music jamming. You start to chitchat, have fun. And then, someone in the circle is asked a question. They respond, meh, eh, and you can read in their eyes that they would rather be anywhere but here. You sip your glass and wonder, “Who’s stopping you?” Only, instead, you ask a personal question, something about them, to spark some interest. But they reply the same, meh, eh, whatever. And you press your lips, shake your head, and walk away.



7. Hair in my face

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I only get my hair cut every three or four months. Then I go real short. Always, in the last couple of weeks of my do, the hair falls over my face and I’m always shaking it out of the way like a later skater boy. I’ve even had students in class imitate the movement, back and to the right, the swoosh. So I’ll wear a headband, just to keep my hair out, even though I like the loose free look, so long as there isn’t hair in my eyes.



6. Everybody at the table texting

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Not just one dog, but everybody. Although, it can be an enlightening experience, just to sit at a table and watch as everybody’s phone sticks to their nose. In such circumstances, you might wonder if it’s not you they are bored with. But, then, you realize some looking at their phones are smiling, maybe they got a text from that boy that’s been ignoring them. Others, however, look as dead and apathetic as they did before ignoring good manners, maybe they are the boring ones. I am tempted sometimes to look at my own phone at that time, but there’s nothing on my phone as cool, as interesting, or as satisfying, as the stillness of that enlightenment, to observe and admire six or eight people at the table texting. And to bask in the peeve.



5. Saying something deep and the listener making it about themselves

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I have a feeling this has happened to everyone, because it has happened to me a lot, and also I am guilty of it myself. Someone tells me their dream and I immediately tell them mine. Or I tell someone how my grandfather passed away and the listener immediately jumps to telling me how theirs passed. It’s fine to talk about yourself, to interrupt even, I like the energy and the enthusiasm. But when someone drops some heavy shit, it’s kinder and more valuable to notice what was said, to acknowledge it first. Next hug the words, the speaker. Then continue, building a bridge from theirs to your story, which is much needed. Otherwise, it’s just people talking. Pet peeve.



4. Closed mind to the arts

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You’re sitting there admiring a beautiful, dark Mark Rothko painting. You count the brush strokes it must have taken to get all those layers of paint onto the canvas. You remember the pain of his failed marriage and the trauma of his disease, the irrationality of 1950s America. Imagine the years and effort that went into forming this one specific masterpiece hanging before you. You almost cry. When suddenly a cousin stands over your shoulder and laughs. “I could do that!” You bicker, you argue, you defend the genius that is Rothko. Still, your family member isn’t convinced. In the end, no one is right. And the art stays the same.  It’s annoying.


3. Insisting on mispronouncing my name, or anyone’s

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Oh na-na. Ok fine, once, twice, it’s funny and leads to discussion. I’ve been called Eye-van, or EE-van, or Evon, it’s a quick lol, plus my name is already a bastardization of John, which is itself the runaway child of Johannas, which it itself the abandoned child of some Greek version, and so on. But insisting, insisting on calling me your version? Insisting when I’ve asked politely! That’s insane. Like a boss used to call me how she liked. Or how a professor joked when I mentioned the correct pronunciation of a favorite author of mine. Names are dumb, eh? What’s my name.



2. Intolerance

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We’ve gotten to the worst one probably. This one is horrible. Purposefully ignorant about geography, careless about other people’s affairs, no fucks here or there. Caring more about your own problems, without really fixing them, than other people’s, without even empathizing. People who trod around with their hands in their pockets and a twinkle in their butt. Am I being intolerant of intolerance? Jeez. Life is too interesting, too fascinating to hate. Make room on the bus, will you? Hold a hand out. Tear down the wall.



1. Farting in public

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I figured I started with a burp, so I’ll end on a fart; like the old joke: “Which one would be more embarrassing on a first date?” Look, if you have to rip one, in a park no one notices, but on a crowded train? And not once but twice?


I was on the way to work in New York once, 7 AM, and somebody on the L lets go of their breakfast burrito. The smell was so distinct, so queso and verde, that when the culprit released a second one, people actually started looking around the train car. And then, I swear, the same person silent yet deadly cut cheese a third time. It was horrendous. But you know what happened next? A totally different person took this as permission to do it too. And then a fifth person and a sixth. For 40 minutes there was a symphony of smells. It was, as they say, a gas. Peeved.

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