Fingernails on a chalkboard are like sparrows chirping outside his freaking window.
RIENDS AND family of John Larson, a carpenter with the nicest temperament in the world, say that his complete lack of any pet peeves whatsoever is driving everyone to distraction.
"We've tried everything," said his wife, Linda, "but nothing gets to him. He doesn't mind car alarms that don't stop, or telemarketers, or falling on an icy sidewalk in the winter. Nothing. If I'm late, he waits patiently for me. If our daughter comes home with tattoos, he compliments her choice of colors. It really is driving me and everyone he knows completely batty."
Other pet peeves that many people share in common are simply not irritants to Mr. Larson. For example, neurotic whistling or teeth sucking, known to incite fantasies of violence in millions, are just "pleasant background noises." Fingernails dragged along a chalkboard, perhaps the single most-cited pet peeve of the last 150 years, sound, Mr. Larson says, "like the sparrows in the bushes outside our kitchen window, maybe on a very busy day."
Likewise, waiters who don't refill water glasses are "just trying to keep me from having to get up and pee right in the middle of my dinner," and people who talk on cell phones in the movie theatre are "just too friendly to miss out on a good chat, is all. They'll get off the phone eventually."
Nor has the sanguine yet irritating carpenter developed any pet peeves particular to himself alone.
Says wife Linda, "I've tried finding something that might really get to just him. Like I took up smoking, and now I sit at the breakfast table blowing smoke on him every morning. But he just says he'll be there for me if and when I'm ready to quit, and tenderly pats my hand.
"Then I started burping loudly after every meal," continued the flustered Mrs. Larson, "but he just says 'that's a good girl, get that digestion moving.' God, I can't stand it!"
Mrs. Larson has yet to attempt bad breath and wearing tap shoes in the kitchen. Mr. Larson's friends are working on cutting t.v. transmission during his favorite sports events and doctoring photos to make it look like his wife is cheating with Eliot Spitzer.
"He'd probably say he's been neglecting me, and that he'll try to do better," Mrs. Larson sighed. "Sometimes you just can't win."
© 11.2.09 Kate Heidel