I'm going on vacation. But to prevent this space from being contaminated by something significant or newsworthy, I'm leaving behind a short stack of gripes columns.
As you may recall, I put together some readers' gripes columns after my colleague Bob Greene did a series of heartwarming columns on what made people happy.
I believe in journalistic balance.
These snarling columns will appear until I return -- or the readers storm my office.
Until then, let the venom flow:
The hypocrisy of brewing companies touting responsible drinking; were it not for incurable sots like me, they would all go broke.
I hate it when the dental assistant breathes through her nose down my face.
Americans driving little, square, foreign cars with black tires. Americans have a birthright to have whitewall tires on their vehicles.
Anyone who shreds lettuce for sandwiches should be strung up by their genitals.
People who are apathetic or ignorant about politics, but whine and grouse about politicians and public policy. Never mind if you're left wing, right wing or somewhere in the vast middle; just get informed, get involved, and have some convictions. Otherwise, shut up!
People who write "Ha Ha" in letters. If it's not funny, I don't want to be told when to laugh.
Willard Scott. Who gives a crap what old coot turned 150 today? And then he always says how beautiful those shriveled women are. Give me a break.
Women appearing in public with wet-looking hair that smells dirty, like they showered it but didn't wash it and then didn't dry it.
Fat, sweaty, disgusting guys who parade around buck naked in the locker room at the Century Mall Health Club like they're at some nudist colony. Have some decency!
The obese brunette woman who usually boards the 7:32 train to Chicago from the western suburbs and usually takes the outbound 5:37 C&NW; train -- she is a disgusting pig who blows cigarette smoke in everybody's face, she is loud-mouthed, is a know-it-all, and has the most awful body odor.
Commuters who enter the commuter trains with a briefcase, newspapers under the arm, a book, and an open cup of steaming coffee and proceed to read the paper and terrorize all the other passengers with near misses by the sloshing coffee.
My most intense hatred is of GUM CHEWING. Chewers are the rudest people on Earth. Even without the popping and cracking, I can still hear the squishy sounds, and I am grossed out.
Stupid-question polls: "Would you sleep with someone for a million dollars?" Why don't they ask their mothers that question?
I'm sick of people (including much of the media) who think all white males come from a long line of slaveholders, rich men, business leaders and politicians, all of whom make it a secondary occupation to abuse their wives and kids.
People who can't complete a sentence without, "You know."
I come from Ashtabula, Ohio. I'm sick of everyone asking me: "Where the hell is Ashtabula?" (50 miles east of Cleveland.)
People who complain about the content of TV shows. Why in the world do they watch if they dislike it so much? I only watch old John Wayne movies.
Old people who expect a free ride because they haven't died yet.
People who have never served in the military who see it as a veritable laboratory for social experiments (e.g. women in ground combat or openly gay people being allowed to enlist).
Explicit love scenes on TV. Revolting.
Those jerks who shove their arms into the elevator just as the door is closing.
Every time I say I'm an English teacher, somebody says, "I guess I'll hafta watch my language, harharhar." They don't have any language worth watching but I'm so polite I don't tell them.
Women who wear huge shoulder pads. I'm convinced that the militancy of a feminist can be discerned by the width of her shoulder pads. Some are so ridiculous they look like they've just finished football practice. I'd like to spray-paint numbers on them.
Californians who introduce themselves as "third generation Californian" or "fourth generation Californian." I don't know whether to genuflect or puke!
In sports lingo, the phrase "class act."
Golf . . . can we please address the myth that this is a sport? These people are dressed in street clothes. They are never out of breath. Some of them are wearing saddle shoes. They have servants to carry their equipment.
When people say: "Oh, well, it was meant to be" after you and your boyfriend split up.
People who give parties and eat meals at taxpayers' expense claiming them as business meetings. You probably do the same.
People who make a hobby of breaking up and getting back together, ad nauseam.
Media who apparently think the average reader/watcher/listener really needs a weekly update on Donald/Ivana/Marla, Ted & Jane, Woody & Mia, royal families of Monaco and Great Britain, Salman Rushdie.