I think a lot about pet peeves, including their definition.
The “peeve” indicates that they must be an annoyance. The “pet” modifier, though, means they’re special, because they’re mine.
There are plenty of things that annoy me, but they distinguish me from no one. These qualify as human-condition peeves. For example:
• Raise your hand if you’ve resorted to wrestling with the plastic surrounding any toy to have ever crossed the threshold of any home you have ever lived in, babysat in, or visited in any other circumstance. You know the plastic I am talking about, because you remember the time you tried to cut it open with a chain saw and the chain saw started crying and had to be put on anti-depressants.
• On the other hand, try to count the number of times a child or someone of equal unreliability has opened a child-proof lock with the ease of George Clooney finding a date.
I’m breathing deeply just writing about it. If you’re not getting even the tiniest bit foamy at the mouth, you must do a lot of yoga.
After much soul-searching and life experience, I am the proud owner of some pet peeves. The following peeve me in a way I have worked really hard to explore and embrace. Understand them to understand me.
• I break into cold sweats when I see a woman pose for a picture with her hand on her hip.
Some fateful night, E! decided to run a segment sharing stars’ secrets at nailing a photo opportunity. Tip No. 1 was revealed as a single hand-on-hip maneuver. The thinking, as I recall, was that the move somehow conveyed the subject’s zest for life, devil-may-care attitude, and the hip she has on at least one side of her body. And a craze was born.
Look around. Every woman you see preparing to have her picture taken has at least one hand on a select hip. Your odds of spotting this phenomenon in the wild increase exponentially if you’re near (a) a high school, (b) an event involving high-schoolers, or (c) a woman who wishes her picture wasn’t about to be taken in the first place.
The pose drives me bonkers for this reason: When, in the course of history, has hand-on-hip placement ever looked or felt natural? Unless you are an angry barmaid, in the walk-around phase of childbirth, or trying to learn the dance moves to Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies,” your first instinct has never been to put one hand on one hip for any measurable moment of time.
Ladies, I say you cross your arms, you let them hang at your sides, you throw them up over your head or you use them to point a finger threateningly at someone out of the camera’s view. That’s what comes naturally, and you should run with it. Also, Keanu Reeves aside, I’m quite sure it takes more to make it in Hollywood than being able to locate a body part with your hand, so just let it go already.
• White rice makes my blood boil faster than the pot of water it sits in.
As foods go, white rice is about as unimaginative and uninspiring as it can get. A grain of rice is the size of a legless ant and the color of clouds and Kleenex. It is so easily manipulated that cuisines from Puerto Rico to Japan claim it as a staple ingredient.
Yet white rice asks that you rinse it prior to submerging it in a pot of water. Why? Because white rice thinks you’re an idiot. Then white rice mocks you from behind its packaging. How? By telling you to do nothing more than boil it in a lidded pot until the water is fully absorbed. Shoot me.
When I cook white rice, the end result is either soggy or crispy. The addition of salt or olive oil makes zero difference. Humming show tunes bears no positive effect.
By the magic of takeout, though, I have enjoyed edible white rice. No, more than enjoyed. Devoured. That puny little grain is downright delicious, alone or tag-teamed.
It drives me nuts.