Things to detest

We learn early in English classes that the words “love” and “hate” are two words that can correctly apply only to living creatures (never say, “I love coffee,” or “hate a movie”).

But we can resort to words like “dislike.” adding appropriate adverbs to specialize the degree: “I dislike intensely,” for example.

There are plenty of things to dislike. With your kind approbation, here are a few I’d like to share:

I’m forever unhappy with modern packaging – boxes so strongly sealed it takes tools to open them; and once they’re successfully pried open, they’re stuffed with dozens of paper, cardboard, useless “peanuts” or plastic bubbles (I found one strings of those aggravating bubbles 16 feet long long – try bursting all before tossing them into the trash can); bottles with tops that refuse to twist open without braking a nail or two and which are sealed again at least once more, whether needed or not; huge boxes filled with unusable stuffing for a small item; and cardboard boxes that have to be cut with a sharp tool before being flattened and acceptable as garbage. 

I dislike seeing people who don’t dress appropriately for the occasion – grubby at church services or formal events – or who don’t realize there are certain words to be uttered in casual conversations among friends only – especially when they slip into commercial TV or radio programs. As a friend would put it, ‘It cranks my jaw down” to hear “hell” or “sh-t” used in formal Q&A discussions or news broadcasts, as is done of late on the once prestigious NPR network. I’m wondering when the F-word will become fashionable.

I also dislike words that are difficult to pronounce correctly. Like “hyperbole,” which I recall with red face when I used it in a graduate class at the U of Michigan – especially when the professor later in his lecture subtly introduced the word correctly as “hy-PERB-oh-LEE” (without the slightest glance at me, but I still cringe at the embarrassment.)

The French refer to some words which sound like what they are not as “faux amis” – false friends – and indeed they can be when, for example, referring to something as being “sexual,” but meaning “sensual.” 

At the same time, I must concur with a related admission: I do admire and respect those like my own former friends and colleagues – James Mackillop and Bill Kennedy, for example – for their penchant in using correctly a “bon mot” (OK, my now absent cognoscenti?).

But worst of all and most detested is the use of hyperbolic language, most common among the advertisers who, from their lairs on NY’s Madison Ave., spend lifetimes learning how to lie without sounding so, while they actually make a royal living by expressing nothing of value about a given product, but extolling it extravagantly to conceal the whole truth – and that occupation goes back into history when unscrupulous scoundrels sold Lydia’s Pinkham’s pink pills or foul-tasting brews in medicinal bottles guaranteed to cure anything from indigestion to broken bones.  

And adding  insult to injury occurred when simply praising a product with slippery language was not enough, breaking into meaningless jingles, as did Pepsi Cola hitting the spot, to disguise their products with comic characters, still concealing the truth: that advertising isn’t supposed to tell the truth, it’s there to sell a product – period.

When ads were clever, they at least amused, but irritatingly repeated over and over, became boring. Most successful ads are blatantly dishonest, and yet can be exceptionally successful in addressing a guile public. And that’s why I despise the entire advertising industry with a venom. 

I also dislike modern tech items as much – bought new replacements for older phones, TV, pressure cooker, coffee pot, and so many other, smaller objects which all have one thing in common: they’re loaded with flanges, buttons, multiple ridges and depressions, all of which must be set in proper order or the thing won’t work. Even a new table radio to replace the old one (with just a simple on/off switch, volume control and station location). Now? Seventeen decisions to make even before sound emits from that slick  silver body – pretty but neigh operable.

I dread the need for any new model of anything; even when I ask for the same model, I get one that looks like the original, but try to manipulate – totally different with changes everywhere. It sits on the side table in the living room looking very pretty but gathering dust, unused.

I fear that my lifeline to the world at large – my computer, now going on four years – will soon give up the ghost, and what then?

Life used to be so simple; what happened is a daily nightmare of trying to recall how to manipulate – or just start up, for that matter.

I have nightmares about how all those modern appliances will gang up on me, their svelt bodies growing claws and snake-like appendages. I may dislike them, but they obviously hate me.

Remember how easy a typewriter used to be; if a key stuck, why, just reach in and pluck it back in place. But computers aren’t typewriters and mine is out to get me soon as I turn my back on it.

Second thought. I do hate all those glossy new products – and if you’re over 60, so will you.


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