"GENTLEMEN" AND SUICIDAL NIGHTCRAWLERS
My eyeliner went on crooked this morning. Where do I go to complain? I try not to be a negative nellie, but a person can only put up with so much.
My daughters tell it’s hard for most people to tell when I’m irritated, but they can spot the signs: an exaggerated politesse, a sense of sang froid and a tendency to overuse French phrases.
Here are a few things that really get my chevre:
1) "This gentleman here," says the police spokesperson, pointing to an enlarged mug shot, "has shot two people and is holding five more hostage." This what? What exactly does this term tell us about the individual in question--that he holds the door open for ladies? Before he shoots them? This isn't a gentleman, this is a thug. Perhaps people who used the term in this way originally meant to be ironic. Now, it's just moronic.
2) For you drivers out there: as one passes through an intersection, especially one with a stoplight, one should not change lanes. It’s a no-no, according to the little book you have to read before you get your driver’s license, so there.
3) Okay, so why do some wine descriptions have to be so, well, strange? The blurb in the Total Wine catalog (“Voluptuously textured, opulent and round”) sounds more like Dolly Parton than the Chateauneuf du Pape it purports to describe. I can show you more of these. Okay, perhaps I have the unrefined taste buds of a famished raccoon, but I’d understand it a lot better if they said, “It’s kind of a purply color and tastes a little spicy.”
4) My friend, author Donna Earnhardt, calls it “wormagedden.” This description perfectly fits my experience as a college freshman in western Pennsylvania when I, already homesick and working on the freshman quinze, would be walking in the rain and vast numbers of big, fat worms would choose to array themselves on the campus sidewalks in suicidal formation. If you wanted to get to class on time, you couldn’t just tiptoe through them. Squish. Yuk! I’d never seen this before, but it happened after every rainstorm, which explained the unique abstract designs on the walkways when the sun came out. Yeah, that’s a peeve. Never mind it happened decades ago.
5) “We’re ready for you, Ellen.” Well, I may not be ready for you. Going to the doctor is a chore I hate in the best of times, but to be called by my first name, unintroduced, by a woman who is younger than my youngest daughter is a peeve. In fact, it caused some confusion in the waiting room one day when there were actually two Ellens. The other one was about to be given a specific blood test when the lab people noticed the discrepancy. Not a serious mistake, but it could have been. Besides, we were never introduced properly.
6) “Back in the day,” they say, these thirty-something TV commentators and I half expect them to add, “by cracky!” Where did this expression come from? It sprung out of whole cloth in the last ten years, by my estimate.
7) “Wanna come with?” Come with whom? This is another recent addition to our lexicon. Verbal curmudgeon that I am, I don’t like it.
8) I devoutly hope I don’t come across the above expressions in period novels or films. I closed the cover of a potentially intriguing mystery set in WWII England when, in the first chapter, a character used the expression, “No way!” I’m old enough to remember when that expression became popular.
9) Do you come to a restaurant to be ordered around? (So to speak.) I don’t. Whenever a host/hostess or server orders me to “enjoy your meal,” I want to retort, “I’ll be the judge of that.” Of course, I don’t say that and nobody ever knows I’m annoyed. (Sigh. The sacrifices I make for social harmony!)
10) Here’s a biggie: “‘God helps those who help themselves,’ the Bible says.”
Not only does the Bible NOT say this, the phrase is profoundly UN-Biblical. God’s grace (unmerited kindness to us, His children) is the theme that undergirds much of the New Testament, not selfishness. An equally egregious peeve involves attributing familiar Biblical phrases as folk sayings. “My cup runneth over,” “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” among many others are all from the Bible, generally the King James Version. Let’s educate outselves, people!
11) You don’t want to get me started on apostrophes.
12) Chief among my peeves: people who complain all the time. I’ve kept all of the above items to myself for a long time, for this very reason. It will be another long time before I reveal any more. It’s a stealth thing. Incognito, if you will. (Is that French? I’m not sure.) Nobody will know how ticked off I am until the next article.
If all goes according to plan, there won’t be a next article. With the exception of the suicidal nightcrawlers, my complaints are all based on human habit, frailty or carelessness. No news there. If anything, this list should serve to keep me humble.
I imagine there are a few people reading this who could enumerate things I do to cause a peeve or two. And no, I don’t want you to write me about them!
Romans 3:23-24 NIV “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
…And a good thing it is, too.