Jewish World Review August 26, 2005/ 21 Av, 5765

Greg Crosby

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Some Annoying Things | Life has a lot of good things going for it; happiness, wonderment, love, and beauty, to name a few. It also has bad. Having gotten this far, I am more than slightly acquainted with life's big disappointments, heartbreaks, and frustrations. There are plenty of both flavors to go around for all of us and there's nothing anyone can do about it — we take the good with the bad, right? But what about the annoying? Are we expected to take the exasperating along with the good and the bad? Are we supposed to take the irritating and the aggravating in our stride as well? I say hell no.

Although I can't quite bring myself to go to a window and scream out at the world, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore," at least I can vent through my column. I guess we've all got our list of annoyances in life — some trivial, some not so trivial. Here are some of mine … this week.

Acronyms have always annoyed me, mostly because they try to be too cute or too clever or both. But there is a new trend developing that is even more annoying than acronyms. People are using only initials to describe terms that usually take two or three words to describe. A case in point is the term, sexually transmitted diseases. More and more it is being referred to as simply, STD's. Why does this annoy me? It bothers me because it makes a negative thing sound kind of "cool."

If people said, "Jack has a venereal disease," it sounds a whole lot worse than saying, "Jack has an STD." STD sounds like DVD or HDTV or LCD or something equally innocuous. It sort of sounds as if Jack has something good, like a really cool car. You know, "Harry has a BMW, Chuck has an XKE, and Jack has an STD."

I think it's a much better idea to make sexually transmitted diseases sound like a bad thing, not a state-of-the-art appliance or a sports car. There's no social stigma to STD and maybe that's the whole idea — if it is, it's a bad one. A venereal disease by any other name is never a rose.

Annoyance Number 2. I know this one will make me sound completely intolerant and insensitive and "other-culture-phobic" or whatever the word is, but…… when I go out to an Italian restaurant I'd really like there to be some Italians in the place, especially if the Italian restaurant is a bit on the costly side.

I don't know what it's like in other cities, but in Los Angeles the odds of actually finding an Italian waiter in an Italian restaurant is about the same as finding a Republican at Barbra Streisand's house.

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No matter what cuisine (with the exception of Asian) Mexicans have been busboys in most Southern California restaurants for decades. They have become waiters and cooks in many traditional American food restaurants including diners, coffee shops, steakhouses, and high-end expensive Beverly Hills establishments. I say good for them. I have no problem with that whatsoever (as long as they're here legally). But somehow it's different at an Italian place. I want the guy in the kitchen to have some connection with Tuscany not Tijuana. I want the waiter's name to be Mario, not Manolo.

It would be the same thing at a Mexican restaurant. When I go out for Mexican food, I want a Mexican to cook it not a Scandinavian (although the likelihood of that ever being the case is about zero anywhere except perhaps in Midtown Copenhagen — and I still would prefer a Mexican cook even there).

I want a Jewish guy making my corned beef sandwich, a French guy preparing my coq au vin, a Chinese guy cooking my Peking duck, and a Japanese guy doing the tempura and sushi. Why is that wrong? Do you really want to see some Slovak guy from Moscow standing behind the grill in the chef's hat chopping vegetables at Benihana's?

When I'm going out on the town with my lovely wife, preparing to pay top dollar at one of the highest rated Italian restaurants in the city, getting our chops all ready for the whole Italian experience, it's a bit disconcerting to be greeted by a man with a thick Mexican accent who starts off with "Buenos tardes, senor. Sum-ting to dreenk, no?"

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2005 Greg Crosby