I was reminded of a pet peeve of mine, recently. At first I was just concentrating on this particular irritant and why I wished it didn’t pop up so frequently, but then I started to think about the whole concept of pet peeves, and what they say about us.
This expression first showed up around 1919, according to Merriam-Webster, and it is defined as a frequent subject of complaint, or as a minor annoyance that an individual identifies as particularly annoying to them, to a greater degree than others may find it.
Okay, so a pet peeve is a particular thing that frequently makes one peevish.
A pet is an animal kept for companionship and personal enjoyment. How is it that I am able to get companionship and enjoyment from keeping and nurturing an annoyance?
Another thing about pets is that they tend to belong to an individual. Even a family pet is usually recognized as belonging more to one family member than to the others.
So maybe what qualifies as a pet peeve is something that is more irritating to me than it is to others. Why would that bring me enjoyment? Shouldn’t I want to be less annoyed than other people, rather than more so?
I spent a lot of time considering this subject, as you can tell.
I came to the unflattering conclusion that having such pet peeves makes me feel just that teensy bit superior to the folks who aren’t bothered in the same way I am. Maybe because I think they aren’t as up on the proper way to say or do this thing.
Take the correct use of apostrophes for example, especially in signs and publications. It can really bug me when I see a sign offering “Orange’s, $1.50/lb.” or read, “The cat was carrying one of it’s kittens,” because I learned in school that those apostrophes give a meaning the is incorrect. However, since I have no trouble figuring out the intended meaning, why let it bother me?
Well, I’m afraid it must be because it makes me feel infinitely superior to the poor fools that don’t know the difference. How pathetic of me to feed and support such an attitude.
Now, I have nothing against pets, although it is a pet peeve of mine when people dress them up and treat them like children … But there I go again; I’m afraid that making a baby of one’s pet is not nearly as annoying as choosing to pamper and nurture personal opinions to use as stepping stones to arrogance.
I am taking a vow today that every time one of my pet peeves raises its ugly head I am going to return it to the wild. There it will only matter when it becomes a general nuisance.
Like wild animals, peeves don’t make good pets. They are unpredictable and may turn on you when you least expect it. Mine did.
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