I don’t know what’s gotten into me lately, but things that used to really bug me don’t even faze me anymore. Case in point: I was on my way to Barnes & Noble for a casual Sunday browse and a coffee, and I had to stop at a red light. When the light turned green, the car in front of me didn’t budge. Not an inch.
“Huh,” I thought. “I wonder if something is wrong?”
I let almost a full green light go by before I gave a hesitant tap on the horn, which broke whatever spell under which the driver was laboring. She must have been grateful, because she thanked me by tossing me the finger, and not just a casual middle finger salute. This was a roll down the window, full arm extension, thrusting middle finger jab-a-thon. Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh…take that, horn beeper!!!! The guy six cars behind me probably wondered what he did wrong after he saw that frenetic display of affection.
I should have been annoyed on two different levels, but the sun was briefly shining, I liked the song on the radio, and I was looking forward to browsing around B&N. Ms. Hyundai Sonata finally holstered her finger a solid hundred yards down the road before pulling into the Wegman’s parking lot, no doubt to stock up on brine and corn dogs.
This is but one example (well, two) of my newly acquired patience with people who are, let’s be honest here, flaming butt thistles, but for whatever reason, they are not fazing me one bit. I figure whatever chronic bit of douchebaggery is troubling them, it’s their problem and I’m not making it mine.
I wish I could say that I have this same patience and understanding for an annoying bit of idiocy right in my own home, but there is something that is also driving my wife mad, so I’m not alone. Our mutual annoyance could likely mean that we are part of a growing trend of like-minded aggravation, one that must be sweeping the nation.
“This is ridiculous,” Mrs. G. said after pulling on a lightweight wool sweater. My own thoughts immediately stalled in my head, as I wasn’t sure what was ridiculous. The well-adapted husband brain must always hold back on the first thought before saying anything. Let it brew a bit. Look for clues. When in doubt, say nothing and wait for another hint. So that’s what I did.
“Look at this. What is the point of all these?” she said and then I saw the object of her frustration—no, of our mutual frustration—sewn into the bottom of the side hem of her sweater.
These aren’t the regular, normal tags we used to have. These are huge, flapping nylon sails layered together like filo dough and sewn into clothing. Manufacturers have suddenly deemed these cautionary words and symbols to be so important, that they deserve not one, not two, and not even three but four or five matchbook-sized flaps, which absolutely nobody reads in spite of them being written in all but three of the known planetary languages.
“I don’t even know what these mean,” she said pointing to one page that was filled with bizarre international symbols, the first one showing fingers dipping into a glass of liquid. As far as I know, that hieroglyphic symbol has nothing to do with sweaters and everything to do with an old commercial for Palmolive dishwashing liquid. It was even less explanatory than the triangle, which I think means do not wear this sweater when eating Doritos.
There were also five images that looked like the iron in the Monopoly game, but no obvious clue as to what one might do with this information. Can this sweater be ironed? Is it made of iron? Do people in foreign lands have irons that look different than American irons because each symbol was unique as if somebody in Uzbekistan might confuse an American iron for a waffle maker.
I quickly showed my wife a pair of my Levi’s, which had the same assortment of two-sided instructional lappets, including one that not only told me how to care for my jeans, but how often I was to do so and what I’m supposed to do with the pants when I no longer want them.
“Care for our planet,” Levi’s instructed me, “wash less, wash cold, line dry, donate or recycle,” the tag chided. Listen, I paid almost fifty bucks for these jeans. If I want to wash them in champagne, dry them in a diesel-fired kiln, wear them once, and then throw them in a tree for the squirrels to chew into a denim nest, that’s my business. Tell you what—make the pants as durable as these tags and I’ll wear them forever. Those darned things are made out of the same material as Superman’s leotards.
My wife had enough of this label tomfoolery and snipped off her sweater tags, whereas the little beasties are still intact in my jeans, and I’ll tell you why that is. I consider it a Zen challenge not to get annoyed by them, but the next time I pull on these jeans and that folio of tags are sticking up three inches past my waistband, they’re history. I will, however, donate or recycle them because the last thing I need would be are Levi’s tag police knocking on my front door. Then again, maybe they could explain to me what the square with the circle inside of it with a big “X” over the whole thing means. That one has me completely baffled.