The care and grooming of our pet peeves

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Ifyou can get past the bad segue that introduces the story, a recent “CBS Sunday Morning” broadcast had an interesting take on pet peeves. I’m beginning to look at them differently.

Before we proceed, though, see if you agree with me about the transition. Here’s Jane Pauley’s introduction to the story:

“Friday night you may have caught our special on pets. This morning, the subject is pet peeves.”

If I hadhadto evaluate that intro on a student’s story when I was a journalism prof, I might have written: “Perhaps you’re trying too hard.”

But I digress. It’s just hard to put down the red pen, although in my later years, I usually used pink, orange, blue, green anything but red-although the students said it didn’t matter. Their papers still appeared to be bleeding.

OK, pen down. Let’s proceed.

On that Sunday segment, Dr. Jon LaPook, chief medical correspondent for CBS News, examined what might be called his favorite pet peeves and the question of whether he should push back against them.

He opened with, “Lately I’ve been thinking about whether pet peeves are actually a good thing. Like a pet dog, can they provide comfort?” (So, see? Maybe CBS’ running this story two days after the pets special wasn’t coincidental after all. And maybe we can forgive the strained segue ... Maybe.)

LaPook said most of his pet peeves involve language, so it seems he and I have something in common. His first example: “very unique.”

“Something ... cannot be ‘very one of a kind,” he said. “It is either unique or not unique.” As he talked, he observed that he had become a bit agitated when speaking about this transgression. “I blew offsome steam about somethingthat means absolutely nothing in the scheme of things,” he noted, “and I do think I’m feeling a little bit better now.”

His philosophy of pet peeves? They’re just important enough to irritate us but not enough to make a difference in our lives. And they have to be recurrent.

Another example he offered: literally vs. figuratively, such as “My head literally exploded.” LaPook said ifthat were true, “There’d better be brains on the wall. I’m a doctor, so I know this.”

In this age of social media when everyone has a chance to get up into everybody else’s business in a very public way, LaPook votes to keep your pet peeves to yourself and try to help out in an age that needs more civility. We already have enough people weighing in on other people’s faults.

But he thinks pet peeves actually do serve a purpose. “While they’re irritating, they let us quietly vent about something that truly does not matter without ruining somebody else’s day. So embrace your pet peeves, but don’t let them bite anyone else.” (Ouch.) “Like all pets, they can be very therapeutic.”

So now when I read a Facebook post that says “between you and I” (one of Daddy’s favorite pet peeves), I’ll try not to get vexed. I’ll try to mentally vent-and then move on.

Or I could write my own post about it and wax eloquent, and the offender might never know the red pen was pointed in his direction.

Meanwhile, I’m immersing myself in the New York Times bestseller written by a longtime copy editor for The New Yorker: “Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen.”

Irregardless, Ihope your having a great holiday season because its the happiest time of the year, and I wouldn’t want you to be one of those people who looses there joy.

Sallie Rose Hollis is a Union Parish native, retired Louisiana Tech associate professorof journalismandRustonresident. She can be reached via email at sallierose@ mail.com.