Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In Which I Get My Hate On

The other day I received an email in which the offending writer referred to me as "insistently upbeat and chipper." I think it was meant as a compliment, but I was utterly aghast. I mean, it goes against my self-image. When I was young and pretentious, I used to think I glowered and scowled like some kind of Byronic wanderer-upon-the-earth, in quest of Truths beyond the ken of normal men. Then I sort of caught on to my own jive, and came to see myself as a more of a garden-variety lumpy grouch. Am I now to relinquish even that delusion? Never! Fight on, I say!

But how? The last time I can remember making a whole swath of people think of me as a negative jerk was an incident almost a year ago, on Facebook. There was some kind of meme going around, in which one was meant to name something that one hated, but the most people loved. An answer sprang immediately to mind: dogs. I fucking hate dogs. I find them needy, filthy, and vaguely dangerous – like adjuncts (I kid! I kid! — but only about adjuncts. As I may have mentioned, I fucking hate dogs). As one might imagine, the response was swift and brutal, with the united forces of all of Facebook's dog lovers crashing down upon me, baying for blood.

I thought I'd played the game well — some people had put in responses like "paying taxes" and "paper cuts," neither of which seems likely to be beloved by the majority (except perhaps in certain Japanese fetishistic subcultures). But you've got to watch out for these dog-lovers: their sense of acceptable objects for critique ends when Schnookums' big wet eyes and butthole-exposing bobtail enter the picture.

So anyway. I thought I'd try to do some damage to this incipient sense of an upbeat Archambeau by listing things, other than dogs, that I just can't stand. If some of these are things you admire, more power to you: I speak not with the Universal Voice of Wisdom, merely with the curmudgeonly voice of the portly academic.

  • Unitarianism, the appletini of religions.

  • Profs who call themselves "doctor" more than six months after receiving the degree.

  • Diplomas on display. You are not a kid. Your office is not a refrigerator door.

  • Hyper-correct grammaristos, including those who use "one" where everyone else says "you."

  • Pictures of oneself giving a reading from one's own book.

  • Suits of any kind on people of any gender in any non-wedding, non-funeral context. (This rule does not apply to Michael Caine).

  • Did I mention dogs?

  • Crazy bitches.

  • iChat conversations, because I never know how to end the damn things without making up some kind of household emergency such as a cat in the chimney or a pretend bee-sting.

  • Grapefruit.

I think that's about it. One must not go overboard in one's bitching.


  1. I know what you mean! I was horrified when I saw that 40% of my students referred to me in their evaluations as "cheery" or "cheerful." It made me sound like some stupid cheerleader. I was going for dark, tortured, and profound, but no luck so far.

  2. That's it, Clarissa: you and me, we've gotta go goth. Full-on Trent Reznor goth.

  3. Trent Reznor? As my students USED to say, that's so five minutes ago...


  4. Kids these days! Bah! Shoulda put them on the list!

  5. Unitarians and Quakers were the only two American churches to officially opppose slavery.

    If you really want to look tough, go for the suit! What would Michael Caine do?

  6. Yeah, I know. But every Unitarian minister I've met has been a smug bastard. Also, one of them wore a suit, and had a dog. Hell, he probably ate grapefruit.

    Michael Caine, of course, is entitled to all the grapefruit he wants. Statting in "Alfie" means never having to say you're sorry!


  7. Hyper-correct grammaristos, including those who use "one" where everyone else says "you."

    Guilty as charged of the latter offense, although I am a veteran rebel against the Grammar Police. I mostly use "one," I imagine, because of my early fluency in French, in which the neutral genderless third person was often socially appropriate. At least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

  8. I've never listed my pet hates Bob, but they include the following:

    1. 'Gay' as a moronic one-size-fits-all synonym for dull, boring, etc. I mean, how gay is that?

    2. Crossword puzzles.

    3. 'Poems' which are crossword puzzles minus the artfulness.

    4. Facebook's more cutesy bells and whistles, such as the 'Like' button.

    5. Fellow adults who have a problem with expletives or 'language'. Get used to it, the Irish have always cursed, and these days they have more to curse about.

    6. Shouty ads (my tolerance for them is now nil: I have to turn them down or switch the channel).

    7. Smilies.

    8. Lists of things like pet hates.

    I'm with you on the prof/doctor thing. I once worked with one of those. Less said the better. However, no first-rate breakfast is complete without a grapefruit and/or grapefruit juice. Shame on you; you deserve to have some acid-crazed attorney carve a Z on your forehead.

  9. Bragging on Steven Augustine (can't help it!)

  10. #7 and #8 overlap?

  11. I too have had problems with chat -- we use it extensively at work -- and have settled on "later" as a signoff. It's relaxed almost to a fault, but also says clearly, "I want to stop chatting now".

    Captcha: menti, as in (Fr) "lied" or (It) "minds"