I’m one of those rare people who get more patient and less crotchety as I get older. At some point in early adulthood, I figured out that viewing every small irritation as a moral outrage would give me a heart attack.
But over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed my annoyance threshold has dropped to pre-2000 levels. It might just be the misery of high summer in a swamp. Or it’s the dark side of city life: we live in such close proximity to one another that familiarity breeds contempt. So many things are so irritating to me right now that I’m ready to become a full-on misanthrope. A brief recap:
1. It’s tourist season. Many, many, MANY other people have described the travails of tourist season in DC, so I won’t get bogged down in the details. But, for me, here’s the root of the problem: DC is a city, where people live, work, eat, fall in love, see their friends, and vote (no matter how irrelevant our votes might be). It is sheer agony to watch tourist families waddle around, acting like they’re in Disney World. Our beloved home exists merely as photo ops for the family album. You know, go ahead and litter, one of Disney DC’s “cast members” will pick it up. Hey, walk as slow as you want, and take up the entire sidewalk, because we’re all on vacation here! Nobody really works in Disney DC, so let's clog the Metro during rush hour with two dozen giggling Girl Scouts. Let’s just see museums and memorials, because why mix it up with the servant population? So, welcome to DC, tourists. Maybe next year you could actually get acquainted with the two concepts I call “local color” and “etiquette.” Mainly, keep off the frickin' subway when people are trying to get to and from work. If I've had a long day at the office, I do not find your children cute. I especially don't want to know what they've learned that day.
2. Gum chewing. I find the sound of smacking utterly revolting. If I’m watching a movie, and two characters share a noisy saliva-centric kiss, I have to mute it or leave the room. And, to me, gum chewing is the most disgusting habit ever. I can cheerfully sit next to someone while they smoke a full pack of high-tar cigarettes, but once the gum comes out, I have to change seats. And, lately, I’ve been besieged by gum chewers. Just today, I spent four Metro stops squashed up against a man who was slurping his gum. Then, just a little while ago, I received a phone call from someone who was smacking gum. Blech. I’d almost rather listen to someone burp into the receiver for 10 minutes.
3. Loud headphones. If you are listening to your iPod, the music is intended only for you. Turn down the volume, already! While it’s sort of fun to imagine the amount of damage you’re doing to your hearing, your taste in music sucks. Also, when conducting a conversation with a fellow human being, take out the earbuds. Otherwise, I just start making things up to see if you’re actually listening to me.
4. People who ask me to guess their age. It’s mostly women that do this, and it’s annoying. There’s never a right answer. Either I think you look too old for your age, or I think you look too young to be taken seriously.
5. Cell yell. I don’t really mind people who have loud conversations on the Metro, so long as they’re conversing with the person next to them. But listening to someone shout into their cell, narrating every portion of their journey home, and having to suffer through a one-sided conversation? Sheer pain. Back when I was working in Bethesda, a gentleman sat down next to me, pulled out his cell, and proceeded to call his assistant (I bet his assistant hates his guts). As far as I could tell, he was killing time on his way to the office. The best part, though, was when he hung up. A woman on the other side of the train said, “We get it. You’re important.” (Not me!) Another portion of this syndrome are people who call just to say they’re going to arrive in five minutes. Just be there in five. That doesn’t require a bulletin.
6. Lawn chairs at Screen on the Green. It’s a level field, genius. So if you’re sitting on a lawn chair, clearly you’re blocking other people’s view of the movie. Sit your ass on the field like one of the proletariat. You’ll be a better person for it.
7. Those who mock my paleness. My mom had skin cancer. I’d just as soon not get it. Therefore, I’m not going out without sunscreen. So please don't suggest I get a "healthy tan." Tans ain't healthy, genius.
8. And, as ever and always, I get annoyed when anyone comments on my looks. I know I’m small and thin. I know I look younger than I am, to the point that I am 30 years old and am often asked for ID. Repeatedly stating the obvious isn’t endearing you to me. I own a mirror, I know what I look like, and I’d appreciate it if we could all move on.
9. People who arrive late to a movie. If the film has started, sit your butt down in the first open seat you find. Don't troll up and down the aisles, looking for a good spot. The good seats were taken 15 minutes ago by the people with the common decency to show up on time. For the love of all that is sweet and good, do NOT ask other patrons to move around so you and your friends can sit together. Again, find the first seat you can, and sit down in it.
10. Dick Cheney.