Do you have a pet peeve? I don't. Actually, I don't have any kind of pet...I'm too busy and lazy to take care of a pet. Pet peeves are especially difficult to feed and clothe, unless you're the chronically-angry type. I'm too busy and lazy to be a chronically-angry type. Plus, I have this problem with staying organized and focused, and pet peeves require a great deal of focus and organization. In order to keep the pet peeve fed, especially during dry spells when everything's going really well and nothing annoying is happening, it’s necessary to go out and look for trouble…and I already have too many to-do items on my daily list.
Another strategy, if a pet peeve has gone into temporary dormancy, is to generate new pet peeves, at which point there’s a whole squirming litter of them, and it’s been my experience that it’s hard to farm out extra pet peeves to friends and family.
When I mentioned to an acquaintance of mine that I have no pet peeves, he remarked, “Yes you do!”
“Like what?” I said.
I thanked him for his input and went home to brood on the subject, which was difficult to do because of all the noise from the renovation of some nearby former art studios which were being converted into luxury apartments.
I decided the best plan was to take the bus to Minneapolis. Taking the bus to Minneapolis gives me the illusion of traveling somewhere else, possibly because I am traveling somewhere else. During the three blocks I was alone on the bus, I decided that building construction doesn’t qualify as a pet peeve. Pet peeves are things which only annoy certain people, not everyone. Pet peeves indicate some sort of grudge or neurosis.
I racked my brain, trying to think of something to develop a pet peeve about, something maladjusted and specific to me. All I could come up with are the kinds of things which anyone in their right mind would hate, like being called “ma’am”…or getting grossed out when people clip their toenails on public transportation…or becoming allergic to hair dye and having to go gray whether you want to or not.
Just as I was about to give up finding a pet peeve to claim for my own, a woman got on the bus. She expertly navigated paying her fare and getting seated, all while talking loudly on her cellphone.
As I listened to the woman’s conversation, I realized she was having success in every area of life where I wasn’t doing too well.
I got so envious and crabby overhearing all the good things happening to the woman and not to me, I realized I’d just developed a bona fide PET PEEVE!
My pet peeve: strangers who talk on cellphones in public, and their lives are better than mine.
For the next few miles, I explored my wonderful new feelings of resentment. I felt like I finally had something worthwhile to contribute to the global community. But then, after we crossed the achingly-lovely Mississippi River and stopped near the Guthrie Theatre, the woman got off the bus. As I watched her, something inside me snapped. I realized the woman was probably an actress rehearsing a part in a play, and the whole cellphone call was a hoax.
Just like that, my pet peeve evaporated, and my naturally-sunny personality kicked in. I found myself making mental lists of the ways I could be proactive about procuring the goodies the woman was pretending to have while she talked on her phone. I got off at the next stop and headed back to my studio…and ever since, my entire life has been an ongoing, raving success.
The trouble is, I still don’t have a pet peeve.