Irritants III

By Garen Yegparian

OK–this week–let’s just have some fun. It’s been a year and a half since I went on a whining spree and there are weighty issues coming next week.

As I quoted before–Jean Paul Sartre said–"Hell is other people," and boy was/is he right!

You go to the grocery market–and they’ve got "cluster tomatoes." They look pretty good. They’re actually RED–not orange-red. They even smell like tomatoes instead of some sterile gauze. But of course–some jerk is picking off the "best" ones and avoiding paying for the "massive" excess weight of the stems. You start imagining a shotgun blast turning his head tomato colored?

Some drunken fool’s stomach decides it can’t take any more–and you’re treated to the stench and scenery in your building’s elevator. Hey–no need to clean up–it’s OK. Or–you watch as some other pathetic human barfs all over the floor at Versailles (the palace)–yummy?

Some rocket-scientist of an Armenian starts "enlightening" those around him/her about perceived defects found among our kind–starting with "You know what I can’t stand about Armenia’s??" Then of course you hear about an admittedly irritating–though generically human–behavior that is found equally among any grouping from Angles-Saxons-Jutes to Russia’s to environmentalists to right-wing-whackos. The only reason such pontificators believe their own spoutings is that they live such insular lives that the only significant contact they have is with their own group.

Here it is. A good 30 years since major migrations of Armenia’s to the US commenced–and the notion–"You’re not Armenian if you don’t speak Armenian" persists. Fortunately–it is now subtler–indicating a weakening of the mythology–and isn’t used to demean some of our compatriots. Of course this makes it more insidious. What’s worse–some of the yoyos who think this way would sooner eat a burger than kebab–can’t tell a shoorch-bar from a highland reel–don’t set foot in an Armenian church but for weddings–baptisms–and funerals ("What’s a sharagan?" they wonder–"A predatory Armenian fish?")–wouldn’t recognize traditional garb if it squeezed them like a boa–and whose idea of maintaining Armenian customs is smoking cigarettes with a queer tilt of the head.

Humans exist in this day and age and society who have not yet grasped the merits of bathing. Conversely–we have the water wasting weirdoes who think nothing of showering three or more times a day. But–the real kicker is users of perfumes and colognes. These people think that anointing themselves with extracts of animals’ organs soaked in alcohol is pleasing to others’ olfactory receptors. Frequently–"the more the merrier" seems to be these folks’ approach to using these pungent liquids. Many also seem to think that slathering these expensive concoctions masks body odor rather than yielding a noxious hybrid.

There you are–minding your own business–riding the bus on the way to work. Next thing you know–you think you’ve got tinnitus. Then you realize that annoying pinging sound is just the overflow noise coming from some idiot’s headset. You wonder how he/she tolerates such loud noise pumped directly into the ear. But–that’s not your business. So you proceed to politely request they turn it down. After the initial uncomprehending stare–if you’re lucky–the volume will get reduced–sometimes even attended by an apology. More often–you’ll get asked if you can hear it–with a grudging reduction following. Other times you’ll get ignored–cursed–get a volume increase–and once even a threatening warning that you should watch your back. All this when radio playing is forbidden on public transit.

What about public toilets? There’s always some vermin who’re afraid to touch the lever and actually flush the toilet or urinal. So we’ve found a remedy! Yay! But wait–the Law of Unintended Consequences (LUC) has kicked in. The automatic flushers–activated whenever the field of the sensor is disturbed–cause thousands of gallons of wasted water. Walking past a urinal? Flushhhhhhhhhhhh. Stand up at the toilet? Flushhhhhhhhhhhh. But wait–now you’ve got all that paper in the bowl and you’re waving you’re hands madly in front of the sensor to get another flush. Of course–it doesn’t cooperate. And that’s after you got off one of those seats with the tubular plastic cover (Chicago’s Ohare Airport has them). But there’s LUC again. Sure the seat’s protected–as are successive users except? the mechanism that drives the plastic sticks way up from the seat and if you’re even slightly larger than what some designer imagined–your rump is pushing right up against that (unprotected) gizmo. Sanitary and swell isn’t it?

If you’re not yet convinced that automation is ill-suited to toilets–how about this: automated taps. Great! Put your hand under it–water runs? well sometimes. Eventually it comes–but beware–move your hands millimeter in the wrong direction and you’re dry again. As if that’s not frustrating enough–you don’t get to choose the temperature of the water. It’s preset. How difficult is it to have it be adjustable? What if you don’t enjoy having your hands scalded–or just want to splash your face with some cool water after a long flight?

Carpool (HOV) lanes? Great idea–right? Except morons get in them who drive under the speed limit so that regular lanes–congested as they are–move faster than you do as you formulate plans for mounting a rocket propelled grenade launcher on your hood for the next time this occurs. Not bad enough? California now allows single occupant hybrids in these lanes–uhhhh–what part of "high occupancy vehicle" connotes the number one?

And now–for the hoity-toity art lovers among us–a perspective on the Getty Art Museum. I’ve had the misfortune of being dragged there thrice. The first time was early in its life when finding parking was a bigger challenge than on Broadway in New York’s theatre district on a Friday night. The synagogue across the street had some event–and generally disallows museum parking anyway. I ended up three miles away–near the UCLA campus–looking for parking–then a shuttle bus that no one seemed to know about. By the time I got to the museum–I had lost what little interest I had in being there. Then came the "agh-beeber" of my friends bickering over what time we would leave and docents describing man’script illumination who’d never heard of the (significant) Armenian contribution the genre. The second Getty trip was with a date who wanted to attend a poetry reading/discussion–oooh–goody–my favorite. Finally–I got dragged to a Gustave Courbet exhibition last weekend. Turns out old Gustave liked to paint nature–among other things–but the pictures look blurry–maybe it’s because of the "incredible brush strokes" described by my tormentor. I did notice one fun thing: Courbet–a fat guy–is described in the museum’s literature as "robust." It reminded me of Armenia–where fat folk are referred to as "aroghch"–"healthy," an interesting coincidence of euphemistic usage.

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