We all have our pet peeves. In fact, one person’s pet peeve is another’s raison d’être (justification for existence).

As is true with most things in life, personal point of view or perspective is the ruling force behind our beliefs and actions. And just to add a dash of contrary to the mix, our personal reaction to another’s dearly held pet peeve may create a whole new pet.

For example, some people dislike getting dirty. Oddly enough, the same dirt haters love to work in their gardens. When you ask for an explanation, these fussy folk believe there are two kinds of dirt.

Garden dirt, also referred to by the more bucolically acclimated folk as soil, is acceptable. Why? Well, the convoluted and selective thought process of the “good dirt” believer is more twisted than a Colorado mountain road with hairpin turns.

“Dirt in the garden is acceptable or good dirt. Gardening is healthy. The entire process of pulling weeds, planting flowers and other gardening chores is therapeutic and does not require too much focus.” This explanation is from a gardener who becomes so lost in thought that she plunges her hands and body into potentially harmful places.

Dense weedy areas or overgrown shrubs are ideal spots for creatures like snakes to hide. So, when this writer discovered volunteer blackberry bushes growing along the fence rows that surrounds one particular pasture, she was excited. Eager to harvest the berries, she plunged her unprotected hands into the thorny vines. Hubby watched her for awhile and then pointed out “You need to use a stick or something to scare off the snakes that could be hiding in there.”


Or, after she spent hours weeding the driveway entrance flowerbeds, she was quickly, and painfully reminded that snakes are not the only dangers found in good dirt. By the end of the day, chigger bites covered her entire body, even the places she did not know she had. Covering each bite with nail polish is the recommended cure, but she only had pink nail polish. Consequently, she painted each bite pink and waited for the eventual smothering of the bloody chiggers. This smothering process allows plenty of time for scratching and muffled curses. The unusual body paint tempted Hubby to connect the dots with a sharpie. She nixed that idea.

Then Hubby adds to her growing distrust of good dirt. “Did you know poison ivy grows in the area near the gate?”

“Poison ivy!”

According to this and other self-proclaimed dirt experts, bad dirt is nasty. Oddly enough, “bad dirt” may have nothing to do with actual contact with soil. More often than not, bad dirt involves personal hygiene or lack thereof.

A friend of our family shared many stories of her experiences during and after World War II. She said refugees who fled their war-torn countries lived in displaced person camps until after the war when they could return to their homelands.

Bathing and other necessities were at a premium in such camps, and the dehumanizing situation quickly removed the thin veneer of social niceties. “I remember watching men blowing their noses. They put a finger on one side of their nose and blew out the snot through the open nostril.”

If your reaction to the woman’s story sent a shudder down your spine and churned your stomach, you are not alone. And yet, in our more or less civilized society, we often find unexpected and nasty presents stuck on the underside of items like desks and seats.

We often attribute such hidden leavings of bodily discharges to children. They quite possibly equate getting rid of such discharges with sticking chewing gum under a desk before a teacher lowers the boom.

The mummified smearings are also on the underside of stairway railings in office buildings. The good news? When the railings received a fresh coat of paint, they painted over the buggers.

Is it possible we behave in a civilized manner only when someone is watching?


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