A few years ago, a friend’s offhand comment made me think. “I hate it when people leave their Christmas lights up all year. It’s my pet peeve.” Never having thought about being irked by this particular aspect of life, I started to pay more attention to the phenomena of quirky irritations.
What is a pet peeve? Before I consult Webster, let me take a stab at my own definition. It seems that when we admit to having a pet peeve, we are essentially saying: “I have this special thing that bothers me.” Something that doesn’t seem to annoy others but bugs the heck out of me.
Checking myself here, Merriam-Webster online defines the term as ”a frequent subject of complaint.” But whether it’s a special thing that bothers me or a frequent subject of complaint, tell me, do we really want either? To be peeved is to be offended or irritated. And when we add “pet” it seems like we are cultivating the irritation, making it ours, expanding the opportunities to be offended and attracting more of the same.
Lest you think I am being holier-than-thou, let me share my own: when the person ahead of me rolls their cart into the grocery store entryway, only to come to an sudden and protracted stop so that I have to swerve into the citrus display to avoid a rear-end collision while a growing clump of shoppers congeals in the traffic jam behind me. Argh, I’ve tried to abandon this pet peeve, and I’m not there yet.
If you have a pet peeve, what is it? And more importantly, could you consider putting it aside, leaving it behind? Could you give it up for New Years, for Lent, for your own greater sense of peace?
photo Morgan Wise