Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pet peevish

Right after I finished the post I wrote for this space,  I decided to submit it as an article. Good for me, but blog-wise it left me empty-handed, so this will be a cereal-for-dinner kind of post. Not especially compelling, but not about empty nest again either.

Today, I had to choose between: The man who flirted with me in traffic recently (and how long it took for me to realize he wasn't trying to alert me to a problem with my car), or pet peeves.  I'm still a little embarrassed by the man-in-traffic story, so I'll go with pet peeves.

I'll  put these in order of their potential to be irritating.  Peeve number 1, for example, has the power to change my mood, whereas number 4 barely qualifies as a peeve at all and is actually a little amusing when it occurs. Feel free to comment about your own pet peeve.  It means you're a nice person. Negative people are  peeved by too many things to have pets.


1.Unruly, unsupervised children in expensive restaurants.

I will initiate a round of peek-a-boo with a stranger's child who is on the verge of a meltdown if the parent is trying, too.  But in a nice restaurant, where I've paid extra to avoid unruly children, and where the parent is not trying,  it's a mood buster. I once watched an upscale child of upscale people slide off his seat and travel from table to table banging a spoon and bowl together. The mother looked at the other diners and smiled. "Look," she said. "He's thinks he's playing in a band."  This should happen more rarely than it does.

2. People who observe the no smoking rule in public places by stepping outside to light up, twelve inches from the entrance.

Atrociously parked car
3. People who park atrociously and at enough of an angle to encroach on the space of others on the left or right.  

Oh wait, that's me. I do that. 

4.  Phrase abuse.   It's tiring  to think about  how often and  in what situations the phrases "It Takes a Village" and "Perfect Storm" and even "Schizophrenic"  have been misused/misquoted/misapplied/misunderstood .

a) Yes, it takes support and resources and responsible parenting to raise a child. But the whole village to make the child do homework, go to bed, find a summer job and stop texting during dinner?  The whole village? Many people I respect use this expression, but it's still almost-irritating.

b) It is a perfect storm when a situation is aggravated drastically by an exceptionally rare combination of circumstances, or if it is a movie starring George Clooney. It is not a perfect storm if it starts to rain on the way to work, in a traffic jam, on a day when your alarm didn't go off.

c) While I have heard forecasters characterize it this way, the weather  is not schizophrenic because it changes abruptly. The weather is schizophrenic if it manifests itself with auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or is disorganized in its speech and thinking. 

5.  Word abuse, to wit: "surreal" and "ironic" and "empathetic."

a)  Surreal does not mean amazing or surprising or unexpected. It means to have the disorienting, hallucinatory qualities of a dream.

Example:  If you see someone walking down the street who looks like Johnny Depp, that  is not surreal.  If you are walking down the street and an image of Johnny Depp floats before your eyes, that is surreal.

b)  Ironic also does not  mean amazing, or surprising, or unexpected. Ironic refers to the incongruency of simultaneous events.  Or, things that are paradoxically true.

Example:  If someone says to someone else that they saw a person walking down the street who looks like Johnny Depp and the someone recalls that they recently read an article about Johnny Depp in People magazine, that is not ironic. If a person thinks they see someone who looks like Johnny Depp across the street, and heads over for a better look, and is run over by Johnny Depp himself, that is ironic.

c)  The word "empathetic" crashed the dictionary party, it was not invited. It was misused by so many, so often and  in so many contexts the Webster people finally got frustrated enough to deem its useage acceptable. The correct word is empathic.

Example:  If Johnny Depp  is questioned by the police and is charged with negligent driving after running you over and is clearly humiliated, and you can relate because of the humiliating time the police came to question you about all of your outstanding parking tickets (which were mostly paid) what you are feeling is empathic, not empathetic.

That's it, that concludes the post about pet peeves.  Next week, I'll talk about the guy in traffic.  

And what is the topic of the piece I'll submit as an article? Empty Nest, of course. There are a few things I forgot to say about that. If I put it in the blog though, it will start to sag on one side.


  1. PLEASE..more like this. Loved the comment about the man in the car..

  2. I left out "Tough Love", damn. But yes, I'll keep my ears open for more like this..