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PARANOIA, PAUL NEWMAN, AND OTHER PET PEEVES

by Rose Madeline Mula

I don’t care how unflappable you are, I’ll bet there are certain things that get your goat … such as expressions like “get your goat.” What does that mean? In the first place, how many people actually own a goat? And in the second place, I know if I had one, I’d be delighted to have someone else “get” it, since I understand goats will eat everything in sight — including the door off your refrigerator and your complete Hummel collection. So, yes, meaningless expressions are one of my pet peeves. (And what’s with that? If it’s a pet, how can it be a peeve?)

Paranoid people also bug me. (How did insects get into this?) You know the type. If you happen to mention something like, “I was reading recently about the destruction of Pompeii…” they’ll snap back defensively. “I had nothing to do with that! I was in Poughkeepsie that day!”

And speaking of Paul Newman (yes, I was — see title), one of my top peeves for several decades has been that he was never my pet. Show me where it’s written that Joanne Woodward had more right to him all these years than I? (You may wonder why I still care since Paul is way past his prime. Hey, so am I.)

And who is the fiend who designs the layouts for supermarket? It’s no accident that the displays are arranged in such a way that in order to find one lamb chop, a loaf of bread, and a bunch or carrots, you have to weave through all sixteen aisles and nine displays of “specials” you don’t need and can’t afford but just can’t resist (especially if they’re fattening). Not only do you spend at least five times the money for ten times the calories you planned, when you get home and unpack all your impulse purchases, you find you’ve forgotten the carrots.

When I have such a frustrating experience, I try to relax and forget it by going to the movies with a friend. The theatre may be completely empty as we sit down. A few seconds later, another couple arrives; and though there are 596 available seats, the only ones that suit them are the two right smack in front of us. It’s not easy to love your neighbors when they insists on being that neighborly.

Neither is it easy for me to love women whose hair never frizzes, whose mascara never smears, and who look good in a bikini. Also, women who are married to Paul Newman.

I’m equally annoyed by people who are early when I’m late and late when I’m early. I had several ex-bosses who were very good at this.

Others on my “Unloveables” list are people who feel impelled to forward to me every single email others send to them — regardless of my level of interest in the subject matter. I don’t care about the guy who broke the dead fly swallowing contest; I am not curious about the mating rituals of the fire ant; and I couldn’t care less about how many rifles Charlton Heston collected before he died. Too much information! And I don’t want to be promised the fulfillment of my wildest dreams if I forward the email to twenty others — or ten years of bad luck if I don’t. Neither do I want to be labeled unpatriotic if I don’t forward the latest political propaganda to everyone I’ve known since kindergarten. I simply want to be able to leave my computer for twenty minutes and not come back to an announcement that I have forty-two new messages (unless at least one of them is from Paul Newman).

I’m also not too crazy about the genius who first decreed that every garment must be constructed from fabric containing Spandex. If I wanted the world to know about every extra ounce of flab on my body, I would have joined a nudist colony.

And how about the fashion (and philosophy) of today’s youth? A recent issue of my alma mater’s alumni magazine featured some of the current crop of graduates, including one young lady wearing a flouncy, red/orange/yellow flowered mini-skirt, a black and white striped tee top under a brown sweater, black tights, and army boots. It was no surprise to read that she wants to move to the woods of Maine and live in a tree house for the summer, while her roommate (whose costume was equally bizarre) plans to live in a community where she can “grow her own food, make her own furniture and clothes, and develop personal bartering and trade relationships.” For this they needed a college education?

Then there are those friends I travel with who insist on getting to the airport four hours before flight time … and those who aren’t happy unless we manage to get through security just as they’re disconnecting the jetway from the plane prior to takeoff.

And speaking of travel, passports should not be issued to people like the American tourist I met on one of my trips who loudly complained that the ice cream on the Via Veneto isn’t like Schrafft’s or that some “stupid foreigner” whom he stopped for directions couldn’t speak English, even though the “foreigner” (who was in his own native country) could probably speak four or five other languages, and the American’s linguistic ability extended only to third-grade English and basic pig Latin.

I also have a beef (first insects — now cows?) with ads that feature the phrase, “for your convenience.” Whatever they’re offering, you can be sure that it’s not for your convenience—it’s for their profit.

That’s almost, but not quite, as bad as the phone message that tells you, “Your call is important to us” before you are put you on hold until sunset — or sunrise, whichever comes last.

Then there’s the guy who knows everything, and what he doesn’t know he’ll fake. He also claims to be able to do anything better than anyone else. You tell him the latest world record in any field (be it alligator wrestling, sky diving, tiddlywinks … whatever), and he’ll tell you he topped it at least a year ago. Ten to one he’ll maneuver you into a corner at a cocktail party and proceed to deliver a monotonous monologue describing every meaningless moment of his oh, so dull life — starting with his toilet training at four months old (the youngest on record). It’s agonizing. While you’re forced to listen to him, you can’t mingle with the other guests. (Paul Newman could be in the other room, for all you know.)

But enough of this. If I don’t stop, you’re going to think I’m a chronic complainer — and I hate chronic complainers. They’re one of my pet peeves.

Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.

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