There is one thing that everyone has in common. We all have had pets in our lives. I am not necessarily talking about a pet dog, or a cat, a goldfish, or even a pet rattlesnake. I am talking about our beloved pet peeves. Some people have so many pet peeves, you could start to imagine that they must be spending most of their time taking care of animals at the local zoo. Then, there are people in a relationship when one person has so many pet peeves that the other person, just so this person does not have to listen to all the pet peeves, start to take up many pet projects. Of course, the pet projects become a major pet peeve for the other partner. The partner with the pet projects now has a pet peeve that the other person is always complaining about the pet projects.
When my parents got older, I suggested that, perhaps, my brother and I can buy them a pet. Their response was always the same:
“We are too old to have any pets.”
I now can finally understand.
The big question is why do we even call these peeves we have “pets”. It certainly would make a whole lot more sense if we call our personal peeves “pest peeves”. If I am thinking about a name for a pet, I may name my pet “fluffy” or “whiskers”. Nobody would consider “peeve” as a proper name for their pet.
Growing up in the Bronx in the 1970s, during the day, the men would typically be at work. The women would gather together downstairs, and sit on benches in the back, sharing their pet peeves.
Woman 1: I can’t take it anymore. I have to constantly nag my husband to chew his food. Sometimes, I burn his steak on purpose just to make it a bit drier and tougher, and somehow, he is still able to inhale it. He tells me that he is practicing for when he gets old and loses all his teeth. He proudly says that he will be the only person in the nursing home who can still eat solid food.
Woman 2: My husband chews, and I can’t take it anymore. My husband has perfected at least a dozen animal sounds between his chewing, and then, there is the snoring. Oy. Forget it! I would be happy if he could just stick with one animal. One day, it is a donkey with the “Eeeh Orrrr, Eeeh Orrrr” and the next day, it will be a lamb or a goat. “Baah, baaah”. And the pig noise he makes! I never even knew pigs can make that kind of noise. Did I tell you that the noises come out of every body opening? I just can’t take it anymore!
Woman 3. Do I have a story. I got tired of cleaning out the stains in his underwear. I even started to buy him black underwear. Only my husband can get stains in black underwear that does not come out. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. So, I convinced him to wear diapers.
Woman 1: You got him to wear diapers? How? I have the same problem with my husband, and I can’t take it anymore!
Woman 2: I would use bleach, and my husband refused to wear them. He didn’t like the smell of the bleach, or the bleach blotches on his underwear. I like to hear how, too! I can’t take it anymore!
Woman 3: Well first, he agreed to it because that meant that he would not have to listen to my pet peeve complaining about his underwear. He then decided that he would take on a pet project, and he spends the whole weekend painting his diapers. He calls it “Diaper Art”. He has a collection that he wants to display at the Museum of Modern Art.
Woman 1: At least, your husband has found himself an artistic outlet.
Woman 2: You should invite us over to see this art exhibit before it goes public!
Woman 3: You do not understand. My husband thinks that he has also created this new great product. “Diapers for Grownups.” Do you want to know what he calls them?
Woman 1 and Woman 2 nodded their heads as they were both very curious.
Woman 3: “Gripers.” Apparently, my husband thinks that he has a lot to gripe about. I just can’t take it anymore.
Woman 1 and Woman 2: Oy.
Later in life, my next door neighbors were the Barker family. If you have read my book, or some older blogs, you know all about the Barkers. The Barkers were Woody and Maple, and their two kids, Bossy Birch and Whiny Willow. If anybody would ever ask them for a favor, they all had one singular response.
“You are barking up the wrong tree.”
They actually had a pet dog. He was a mangy and ugly looking sort of dog, and the Barkers gave their pet dog the name of Peeve. He was actually so mangy looking that he looked like a dog that would be named “Peeve.”
The problem was that none of the Barkers took care of their Pet Peeve. Whiny Willow was always too busy with her pet project which was her beloved dollhouse. Bossy Birch was always too busy with his pet project which was his beloved train set.
If Woody or Maple would ask either Bossy Birch or Whiny Willow to take Peeve out for a walk, the response was always the same.
“You are barking up the wrong tree.”
Because Peeve was constantly ignored by the Barkers, this was Peeve’s own pet peeve, and with everyday that he was ignored, Peeve’s pet peeve got bigger and bigger until one day, he could not take it anymore. So, one night, while Bossy Birch and Whiny Willow were asleep, their pet, Peeve, came in and destroyed both the doll house and the train set. The dolls and the train tracks were all chewed up, and it looked like one big disaster area.
Even worse, that morning when Bossy Birch and Whiny Willow woke up, they, along with the parents, discovered that they all lost their bark. Their pet, Peeve, however, was gleefully barking away, proud of his accomplishment.
The Barkers, of course, went to see Dr. Sylvia Burt, who was a recognized “Barking up the Right Tree” specialist. Once the Barkers learned how to bark up the right tree, they all got back their bark.
Birch and Willow were no longer bossy or whiny, and when they came home, they decided to give their pet Peeve a nice shampoo bath. After the bath, they brushed Peeve’s fur, and they noticed that Peeve was not mangy at all. In fact, it turned out that he was quite fluffy.
That night, Birch and Willow decided to give their pet Peeve a new name: “Fluffy”.
Since we all have our “pet peeves”, it can be easily understood that these pet peeves can become a Pet Peeve CrankaTsuris. Then, when one person lets out a Pet Peeves CrankaTsuris, the partner receiving this particular CrankaTsuris reminds Partner One of the Pet Peeves CrankaTsuris of his or her own. This CrankaTsuris tends to be a bit louder because the belief of any person letting out a Pet Peeves CrankaTsuris is that they happen to have the superior pet peeve.
It then spirals into a showdown at the Pet Peeves CrankaTsuris Olympics. Each partner wants to win the Pet Peeves CrankaTsuris gold medal!
Again, this is where the CrankaTsuris Method can be useful. We recognize each other’s pet peeve. We can laugh about a few, and agree that others can be quite irritating. We can even decide that one pet peeve is so irritating that it is worthy of being converted into a pet project.
Then, maybe we should give a new meaning to the term “pet peeve,” and think about why it isn’t called a “pest peeve.” If we think about our pets that we love, it does not mean that they do not peeve us sometime. They want a walk when you are feeling exhausted. They had an accident on the rug that you have to now clean up. They went in and destroyed your closet during a thunderstorm. After all that, there is still some unconditional love left.
If we remember all the reasons we love each other, maybe a little pet peeve isn’t that bad after all.