“Ask Peeves”—A Pre-Election Day Guide to the Utterly Annoying
Oh, DO join our table at the fundraiser….
By Ed Goldman
To me, the expression “pet peeves” has always been a bit of an oxymoron, like “jumbo shrimp” or “political statesman.” Pets are usually creatures we love; peeves are usually things that aggravate us.
Well, that’s today’s premise and I’m sticking to it. Or would you have preferred I would actually discuss tomorrow’s being Election Day? I didn’t think so. Here are some of my peeves:
- GPS INCLUDING THE INSTRUCTION TO “MAKE A U-TURN.” When this occurs, which is often, I’m inclined to think this could have been avoided if the device had thought through the recommended route more thoroughly in advance.
Meet ‘n’ grate
- WHENEVER I’M INVITED TO THE BIRTHDAY PARTY OF AN ADULT AND THE INVITATION SAYS, “NO GIFTS.” This is when I damn well know to take one because everyone else attending will.
- IF FRIENDS SAY I “SIMPLY HAVE TO MEET” AN ACQUAINTANCE OF THEIRS. The reason? “Because you two have so much in common.” Those few words can make me freeze with anxiety. Either the acquaintance and I will have nothing in common, something superficial in common (“Hey, we both still have much of our hair and many of our teeth!”) or we’ll both discover that the mutual acquaintance knows absolutely nothing about either of us:
ACQUAINTANCE: So! Madge says you’re quite the pickleball fanatic!
ME: I played it once for about 15 minutes in the mountains in Idaho and loathed it. It’s not tennis, it’s not racquetball, it’s not handball. It’s ping pong for drunks.
ACQUAINTANCE: Oh. I play a few times a week.
ME: Ah. Well, on the other hand—
ACQUAINTANCE: I’ve even organized a league at my assisted-living facility.
ME (Struggling to regain face): But how about you? I’m told you’re one terrific grandparent.
ACQUAINTANCE: I’ve been sterile all my life. There are no kids or grandkids.
ME: Oh, geez, I’m so sor–
ACQUAINTANCE (Sobbing): I mean, we tried everything when we were young: vitamins, videos, red meat, costumes, Crisco–
ME (After an awkward pause): Now, it’s not as though I wouldn’t give pickleball another chance.
ACQUAINTANCE (Regaining composure): You’re–you’re not just saying that? Because I have a signup sheet folded up in my fanny pack…
- WHEN SOMEONE SAYS, “WE’VE BOUGHT A TABLE” FOR AN UPCOMING FUNDRAISING EVENT. Then the person insists I join it. But how do I suavely ask if I’m expected to payto” join the table” he or she already bought? If so, I could just as easily have bought a seat at anytable. Or skipped the event in the first place.
- OVERLY HELPFUL GUESTS. I hosted a New Year’s Eve party at my condo a few years ago and even splurged on some Beluga caviar for appetizers. One of the tag-along guests showed up with elaborate hot-pockets and went right to my oven to heat them up. The hot-pockets effectively upstaged the caviar, which I returned to the fridge. I spent the next few days finding recipes to which I could add caviar (poached eggs and baked potatoes were the winners—in the process, becoming the most expensive poached eggs and baked potatoes I’ve had in my entire life) .
- FRIENDS WHO INSIST ON TELLING ME EXACTLY WHAT THEY EARN AT THEIR JOBS. I imagine they do this in the hope I’ll reciprocate. Well, dream on. When I was a kid my parents taught me to never ask people how much they earned—and to never reveal what I earned. I agreed that the first part was personal, presumptuous and prying—and soon found that the second part would also have been inadvisable on so many levels. For instance:
(a) What if I earned much more than the people who just revealed what they earned? Would they then be inclined to think about what I do for a living (which is what I’m doing right now) and say, “Really? You get paid that much for that?”
(b) What if I earned much less than they did? Would they still value me as a friend? Would they still brag about their international vacations once they knew that for me, a two-hour bus ride from Sacramento to San Francisco would be a budget buster? Even if, taking a page from Mitt Romney’s doggie-care playbook, I tied myself to the roof of the bus? Where were those animal rescuers when you needed one?