Everyone has pet peeves. Touching the food before you eat it, taking too long to order, obnoxious lips-agape-oh-my-goodness-your-mouth-is-open-so-wide-I-can-see-your-dangly-thing chewing. Oh, the world of human indecency is vast and varied such that – contrary to the real world – one can only hope to see as little as possible before a timely demise.
Some are more fortunate than others, having little interest in and taking little issue with the barbarous activities of others. Many, like myself, envy those. They seem to waltz through life with a great deal more positivity than their fellows; glad, friendly, unaffected. And entirely unaware of the pain they’re causing the less fortunate, the men and women and children doomed by genes or environment, cursed with omnipresent observation.
We try not to judge, at first. We want to be like you. We want that carefree attitude and winning smile. We wonder what power has so sadistically twisted us into these machines of ill will. You see, the one cursed with these powers of observation has no choice but to notice the less pleasant things in life, and having noticed, often must then think about them. Take our third example from the opening paragraph: the man at table eleven may look like a decent fellow – dressed in a suit and tie, a pleasant smile softening his face as he chats amicably with a childhood acquaintance seated across from him – yet his flapping lips and the audible smack that accompanies them is enough to foster a genuine hatred from fifteen feet away.
Most of us fight that hate. It shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Yet we continue to think, to consider the reasons he can’t seem to chew like a civilized being. Could it be his teeth? No, they’re straight and well taken care of. Negligence? Well, obviously, but is ignorance really an excuse? Surely, a man with any regard for society would have noticed by now that such obnoxious eating habits are rude and ill-mannered. So it must be that he has no regard for those around him. Correct?
Frustration builds, focus dwindles, and whether we strive valiantly to ignore it or fully embrace our negative feelings toward this happy man, our evening is ruined, shattered by a nice man in a nice suit with a pleasant smile.
And so life becomes far more laborious than it ought to be.
In my experience those most bothered, and therefore most observant, tend to be writers. Isn’t that what makes a writer, after all? An observer. And when one’s entire life revolves around observation, one tends to develop many more peeves than the common human. Not only does a writer have to deal with the happy-smacky man at table eleven, but he has to fight the urge to resort to physical violence when his own date swaps her “infer” for “imply” over, and over, and over again.
To put it concisely: a writer is a tortured soul for many reasons, but above all because the human race has an unquenchable desire to exterminate its most thoughtful members. It’s in our nature, it seems, for even the observator is not free of guilt, and we writers…
Well, few are guiltier.
Photo Credit: stevieblunder.blogspot.com