Pet peeves, poor taste can unravel some

Published 11:08 am Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do you have “pet peeves?” Or do you let things just pass on by without fretting?

Up until a few years ago I would often get extremely upset with people and annoying events. But, now in my older years, I could care less about these things even though they glare at us every day. I merely laugh at it. In fact, I find myself using that contemporary term ROTFL (Rolling On The Floor Laughing). I suppose it is because I do not find myself concerned as I did years ago.

Even though those old peeves glare at you every day I no longer let them bother me.

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I am sure you read some of my earlier columns where I wrote about people, writers and broadcasters who butcher the English language. Remember what I wrote about that term “only other,” not knowing when to use “it’s” or “it is,” not understanding noun and verb agreement, improper use of a “helping verb” (i.e. I done that yesterday, knowing it should be I did that yesterday). These things no longer unravel me.

Now here is a peeve that could be costly for some writers and broadcasters. They could be flirting with legal problems for improperly referring to people as elderly, especially those in late 60s and early 70s.

A radio station host recently was heard saying, “I’m taking that writer to court for calling me ‘elderly,’” And, my research of this subject tells me that radio host is correct. As stated, the problems lie with the fact many of these writers have never had proper journalistic schooling. There are certain things you can and cannot write or say.

Another example of poor taste is listing the name of a hospital where a person died. This does bother me. The correct terminology is “death occurred at a local hospital or at a Mobile or Pensacola hospital.” You don’t name that hospital. We like to think of our hospitals as places to recover from illness and injury, not a place of death. Hospital administrators should voice their objections to those who write or broadcast in this manner.

So, when you read a story about an “elderly” person please confront that writer and have him or her tell you how it was determined he or she is elderly.

Another sensitive area for some men is “should I or should I not wear a hat?”

My mother dressed me in a neat hat, not a cap, with my dress suit when I was 6-10 years of age. Men’s hats were fashionable back then. And, I suppose they are somewhat fashionable today.

Those hats worn by men back then were very wide brimmed and the trend called for the tip of the brim be turned down, Dick Tracy. When we got into the 1980s hats tended to have smaller brims very much like hats worn by Jack Lemmon, Mickey Spillane and Mike Hammer.

Hollywood, more or less, set the fashion for hats. Facial profile, size and shape of heads determined the hat style for the leading man. For example, some leading men with nice facial profiles did not look good in a hat. But, some with not so good profiles looked extremely nice. Back in the 1940s and 1950s some prominent actors insisted they wear hats.

As a young boy, I heard a man telling his friends “me and this other guy are going to have a fight.” One of his friends asked him, “Which hat are you wearing?” Believe me this actually happened. You see, there was a concept then that a hat made you look meaner and dominant. And some people did have fights and some did wear their hats in the fights.

Thank goodness we don’t have situations like this today. I hope we don’t. Surely we don’t, do we?

And, what about state troopers in some states who are required to wear that stiff hat with a strap around the neck. Don’t you know those guys are relieved when they go off duty and can take that hat off. But, I will say their hats make them look very professional and they can be proud to wear that uniform.

Have you ever thought about problems a columnist sometimes has selecting subjects or just “something to write about?” Well, as you can tell by this column today. I simply could not “get it in gear.” I have times like this and I know some housewife will find this page ideal for wrapping fish.

Perhaps I should take on another project to go along with my weekly column. Let us say my own Web site. That is no big deal. I can handle it. I’ll let my wife handle the financing. She does this, anyway.

What would I call it and what would I write about? I could draw readers who would rush to the site each time they hear a siren in town. They could check it out and see what is going on. And I could add a novel offering a new chapter each week. We could call it “Poison and Paradise On the Bayou.” Thirty years of experiences and friendships in Louisiana filled with intrigue, mystery, descriptive scenery, satire and fiction surely would prove helpful.

But, then again, I shouldn’t be thinking like this. After all, I am one of those “elderly” people.

“….yes…it always whispers to me…those days of long ago…”

Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at