If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend most of your days basking in the warm, cosy glow of everyone’s collective love and admiration.
Seriously, it’s like you can’t even go to Coles for a Lean Cuisine and a king-size Cherry Ripe without randoms flinging themselves at you like nanas lobbing knickers at Tom Jones.
The truth is that most people find me fairly intolerable; and as it turns out, I can totally relate.
I mean sure, I make a mean Wednesday-night pasta (often repeated to some acclaim on Saturdays). And hey, I probably have other redeeming qualities that somewhat pick up where the pasta leaves off. Not to brag.
But every now and then, I’ll hear the sound of my own voice. Maybe in a voicemail, or a presentation, or in the echo of a video call when Sharon forgets to mute her microphone. Whatever the case, hearing any audio evidence of my actual voice is always enough to slingshot me into an existential crisis with the same blunt force as nana’s knickers.
Do I really sound like that? Why am I breathing weird? Did I just say ‘um’ 27 times in that two-minute presentation? Is it normal to swear that much? At a baby shower? AM I REALLY THAT LOUD?!
It’s at times like this you may very well find me, exhausted and collapsed at the edge of a small puddle in the middle of the street, muttering the words “who am I?” to my reflection in the ripples.
“I don’t know,” the reflection responds. “But did you know you sound like a screeching howler monkey in the background of that video of the Toddler at the park? You totally ruined the memory, KTHNXBYE.”
Yes, it’s at times like this that I appreciate with heady certainty how intolerable I really am. And no amount of Wednesday-night pasta is going to unprick that particular balloon.
Anyway, this was pretty much the cycle of my life (pasta > hear own voice > existentialism > pasta > hear own voice, etcetera) until recently – whilst languishing in my preferred puddle. I lifted my head long enough to see someone walk past who hadn’t snipped that little ‘X’ of thread tying their jacket vent together.
It was then that it hit me: everyone is annoying.
Yes. The one, pure Truth with a capital ‘T’. An enlightenment, if you will.
Everyone. Is. Annoying.
And if everyone is annoying, why am I so hard on myself? Why do I languish in this here puddle with the weight of the world on my shoulders when there are far more irritating people out there living their best life, vacantly unaware of the experiential weight of their own annoyingness?
I mean some of these people will be in respectable positions of authority, AND getting around with a price tag still stuck to the bottom of their shoe. How annoying is that?
And others will stack the kitchenette dishwasher with all the forks pointing upwards for some reason; turning the cutlery basket into a death-trap for anyone unlucky enough to pull ‘unstacker’ duty. Do you see what I’m saying?
Others still will be out there, wreaking mild yet cumulative havoc on their co-workers by saying “PIN number” regularly.
Or pronouncing the universally accepted hard ‘g’ in ‘GIF’ as a ‘j’; but in the same conversation, counterintuitively pronouncing the universally accepted soft ‘g’ in ‘gist’ as a hard ‘g’ – triggering an irrepressible rage in any sensible person within earshot.
Or even describing the Oompa-Loompas in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as “cute”; and not the nightmarishly musical Bringers-of-Death they’re clearly intended to be. (OK, that isn’t annoying as much as it is troubling – and surely the clinical test for a number of personality disorders. But I digress.)
The point is this: if everyone is annoying – and I assure you, they are – then really, that’s all the permission we need to stop taking ourselves so seriously. And maybe even feel free to caterwaul “WACKADOO!” with wild abandon whenever the Toddler goes down the slide backwards.
Because no matter how annoying we think we are – there are still people out there who try to talk to you through the toilet cubicle.
And isn’t that the most annoying thing of all?