My pet peeve’s name is Snarky. He lives under the stairs and I feed him bits of old cheese.
I’ve had the misfortune over the years to know people who simply couldn’t keep their big fat opinions to themselves. Wait, that’s wrong. Let me rephrase that. I’ve had the misfortune over the years to know people who couldn’t keep their big fat opinions to themselves, and these people seemed to go to great lengths to voice their opinions in the loudest, most absolute manner possible.
Contrary to what you may have read scribbled in marker on the bathroom wall in the men’s room of the Shell gas station at exit 47 of the New Jersey turnpike, I’m not what you’d call an American history aficionado, but, I do know that one of the principals this great country of ours was built on is freedom of speech. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I usually love to hear them, when delivered in a palatable form.
This is what I greatly dislike—
“I heard you talking to Emily about seeing the new Pauly Shore film. I saw it this weekend. Save yourself nine bucks. It was the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Certainly the worst in the Shore’s filmography. Only a complete moron would go to see a movie like that.”
This is what I like—
“I heard you talking to Juan about seeing the new Pauly Shore film. I saw it this weekend and didn’t care for it too much. I don’t think it’s the best movie that Shore has seen. You might be better off waiting for it on cable.”
If someone gives me their opinion, the last thing I want is to have the topic of discussion shaded with absolutes. Ben and Jerry didn’t get rich by selling one flavor of ice cream. Tastes as well as genital size differ from person to person. Plus, when you club someone over the head with an absolute you automatically put them on the offensive. If you tell the person with the opinion that you’re going to have a look see for yourself, or if you run into them a week later and they learn you went and saw the movie anyway, it means that you put absolutely no value on their opinion. It’s worthless. They should have saved their breath and kept their mouth shut.
I know someone who used to be guilty of the absolute opinion thing when it came to food. She fancied herself a chef, and no one’s cooking, and especially their baking, could hold a candle to what came out of her kitchen. I recall one incident in particular that took place at a company where we both worked. It was someone’s birthday, or some occasion where a cake had been brought in. We all were handed a slice and were chewing away, yum-yum-yum, when all of a sudden this person blurts out, “Oh my God! This tastes awful!” and tosses her slice of the cake into the trash. So there the rest of us stood. The cake tasted pretty darn good to me, but a cake would have to be pretty darn awful for me not to finish it, but because of her absolute declaration, the cake was horrible, and if we ate it we must be total idiots. She also put us the position that if we didn’t toss our cake into the trash as well, her opinion was meaningless to us and that we must have thought she was a fool.
I love hearing the opinions of others, especially if it leads to a debate, but iron clad opinions are turn offs for me. I don’t need for things to be candy coated, but please leave me some wiggle room to have my own point of view.
This all comes up because I think I was pretty absolute in my review of the film version of RENT. It may be on your list of the top ten movies of all time, landing right between Bio-Dome and Encino Man.
And that’s one of the reasons I love America so much.