In a recent interview on CBC radio's Q with Jian Ghomeshi, New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast stated there were only two things in life she was truly certain of: that she's naturally anxious, and knows the alphabet by heart. No surprise then that her new book, What I Hate: From A to Z, itemizes Chast's dislikes and fears in alphabetical order, with a full-page trademark cartoon accompanying each of 26 phobias.
There are the usual and predictable fears — H stands for heights and E for elevators — while others are more personally peculiar — S is for spontaneous human combustion and Y is for yellow (but only a certain kind of yellow). This latter bit is as it should be, since likes and dislikes are, for the most part, subjective and personal. I certainly have pet peeves. In fact I even keep a list in my phone. And so here, just in time for the season of sharing, love and caring, I gift you my top ten. If there's anything that unifies these items it's that the line between "I hate" and "I just don't understand..." is altogether blurred.
1. Buying a New Car. I just did this last week, after months of fretting and stressing and putting it off because I just didn't want to have to deal with salesmen and the whole showroom dance of unnecessary haggling, them pretending to give you a deal, you balking, them pretending to haggle with their boss to cut you a better rate, and you leaving feeling you still got fleeced. Why the hell can't one car model just be a certain price everywhere it's sold?
2. The Faux Hawk. I never liked it when it was a novelty doo on the likes of Beckham and now that it's ubiquitous all I can say is WTF? Is this a hairstyle or an affliction for those without the balls for the real thing? What's next, the Faux Friar — a gelled-up horizontal halo of hair? Please.
3. Americano. Appropriately named given that only in America would something good need to be diluted because the taste was too strong. Like weak beer, American slices (not real cheese), and non-fat yogurt, the whole idea of an Americano is laughable. Almost as laughable as the word "expresso" on which it is based.
4. Formed Chicken. When did it become OK to grind an animal into mush, add a chemical binder to the mess, form the proteinaceous goo back into something that resembles cooked flesh, then fob it off as the real thing? It seems like every other restaurant is using this garbage. At least McDonalds' Chicken McNuggets give fair warning that they aren't au naturel.
5. Vine Tomatoes. Yup, the ones that look so fresh and scrumptious in the grocery store because they're still attached to a healthy green vine. But they'll look that way for weeks after you bring 'em home, too, because they're engineered to decay at about the rate of Uranium, side-effects of which include being taste-free and possessing a wooden, fibrous centre. Gross.
6. Fake Snow. Excruciating. Who do they think they're fooling? There has never been a movie scene, nor a single Christmas, hardware, or snow tire ad in which the fake snow has fooled me or not been noticed. In fact, it's so fake it's distracting.
7. Snowboarders. I snowboard, so I can say this: What gives snowboarders the right to turn one direction in which they can see and another in which they can't see without checking, therefore making everyone else on the slope responsible to compensate for their inattention? The terms "toeside" and "heelside" should never be used in lessons. Instead turns should be labelled "sightside" and "blindside" from day one so it's drilled into the dense snowboarding skull that they have no idea what kind of havoc they create when they swoop across a slope without bothering to look.
8. Conservativism. The political anachronism responsible for most of the world's ills has proven useless in a dynamic modern age yet continues to self-replicate through the viral processes of fear propagation, purposeful distortion of truth, and pejorative labelling. John F. Kennedy already addressed this tendency in exposing the philosophy's lack of vision some 50 years ago: "If by a 'Liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a Liberal, then I'm proud to say I'm a Liberal." Wake up people.
9. Nickelback. I'm not bandwagoning here, I truly can't stand these guys. There just aren't enough ways to hate a band that sounds like a blender full of beer caps. (Although a radio station in Calgary advertises itself as "Nickelback free" which is a damn good start.)
10. Top Ten Lists. Enough said.