I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to write about this week until I saw how last week’s column was received. Based on the overwhelming response to that piece, I don’t think I have a choice. To bring you up to speed in case you haven’t been following the last 2 weeks, I’ve decided that if only for the sake of my family, I am going to make a concerted effort to be a better person in 2015. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of things and people that used to get under my skin. Some were just petty little quirks of mine, or peeves if you will, while some were genuine, globally understood irritants. I considered it part rant, part confession, and part public service announcement. Based upon the feedback I received, I seem to have struck a chord in many of you. I guess a lot of the things that bother me also bother some of you. I think there were also some things that many of you didn’t realize bothered you until I shed some light on them. You know me, if I can save but one soul… At the risk of sounding arrogant, I think I saved more souls than a televangelist last week, and none of you had to send me a check or get popped in the forehead. If there was one less stoplight selfie this week, than my work here is done.

Fortunately for all of us, I learned how to work the voice memo feature on my new phone this week, so every time I saw something or thought of something that pissed me off, I immediately recorded it so as not to forget it like I usually do. Once lightening strikes in the vortex of rapidly perishing brain cells that is my mind, it doesn’t stick around for very long. I just spent 2 hours with head phones on transcribing my voice memos into my notebook and now I’m questioning my entire existence. You could tell the points that I was really passionate about because it sounded more like Samuel L. Jackson rehearsing his lines than me taking constructive notes. By the time I finished writing down my notes, I had roughly enough material to put a cover on either end of it, but fortunately, I’m not that ambitious, and writing while juggling 2 insane toddlers limits my time at the keypad. So here are some more samplings from the ever growing list of things that I’m going to try not to let piss me off anymore.

1. There are two things that will eternally stagger me. One is how few people partake in the simple act of giving you the little thank you wave when you let them in front of you in traffic. The other is how furious I get when they don’t. I’ve said this before; you could walk up to me at my kid’s bus stop in the morning kick me square in the dingaling, and say; “I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else”, and I’d be totally cool with that and immediately get over it. BUT, if I decrease my current velocity, cordially motion with my hand, and/or turn my lights off and on to permit you safe, courteous passage into the path in front of me for absolutely no other reason than my own courtesy and human decency, and you fail to acknowledge me with a simple appreciative hand gesture,  oh, now it’s on! You may as well have emptied my children’s college fund and spent it on heroine and the Nicholas Cage film library. If I happen to be alone in the car, I am now calling you names that would make a retired sailor in a truck-stop blush. For the next few moments, I will seriously contemplate executing a state trooper like P.I.T. maneuver like I learned on one of those stupid criminal shows on Trutv. You are the same classless caliber of D-bag who will walk right by me as I hold a door for you going into or out of a store and not say ‘thank you’ or even acknowledge me. Fortunately, the knowledge that there is a special place in hell for you gets me through my day. While I will continue to loudly and with heavy sarcasm shout; “You’re welcome!” simply to draw the attention of everyone in earshot what a rude jerk you are; I’m not going to let them bother me any more.

2. This next one is very deeply personal to me. It’s 2-tiered, and I’ve been carrying this animosity for a very long time. One for nearly 40 years, and the other for nearly 30. It may seem very petty to some, but I guarantee there are a large number of you who will agree with me. But it’s time I got past this bitterness and moved on. I don’t watch a whole lot of television, primarily because most of it is crap or just plain skull jelly. Often times I’ll scroll through the channel guide just out of the same morbid curiosity that makes me slow down to ogle a horrible car accident, or touch the paint even though the sign clearly warned me that it’s wet.

Every so often, a show comes along that just transcends our mundane lives, stimulates us both primitively and intellectually, and captivates us. It is so well written and cast that it both makes us laugh out loud and occasionally tugs at our heartstrings. We each have one or two of those show that we grew up with that we couldn’t wait each week to sit down and watch. In many cases, the cast members were like family to us and if any of them ever left the show for whatever reason, we’d actually mourn. Well, it will come as no surprise that to me, these shows were sitcoms. In fact, what I deem to be 2 of the best shows ever on TV, if not the best, both of which in my opinion were each singlehandedly ruined by one individual. I have for a very long time harbored a deep animosity and profound bitterness toward these 2 individuals as if they had in essence robbed me of a large part of my upbringing. I don’t have hatred in my genetic makeup, but to say that I loathe these 2 people would not be too strong a vernacular.

The 2 genious shows I speak of are MASH and Cheers. And the 2 proverbial shark jumping assassins I speak of are; Alan Alda, and Kirstie Alley. MASH was one of the most brilliant, hilarious, and poignant shows of all time and you certainly didn’t have to be a Korean war veteran to fall head over heels in love with it. It had an amazing run for many years, right up to the point when they for whatever reason allowed Mr. Alda to get behind the camera instead of just in front of it. Suddenly the show that always made you laugh and sent you away at the end with a smile was something entirely different. Now, each episode was nothing more than a platform for his personal and political views and opinions and every single episode seemed to conclude with some soliloquy which ended with him as a martyr. For the next 4 decades, his career was practically nonexistent (much to my delight) with the exception of an occasional and largely forgettable tertiary role in a movie during which he usually just played a version of his own, loathsome self. I will never forgive him for ruining that show.

When I think back to poignant events from the 80’s, I think of the space shuttle explosion, the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana, the relinquishing of my own virginity, and Kirstie Alley driving a dagger through the heart of the greatest sitcom of all time (not necessarily in that order). This brilliant show had already survived with flying colors through the transition from the loveable Coach to the naive Woody. It welcomed new characters like Frasier and Lilith who could easily have been alienated, but were welcomed with open arms. All went well until the arrival of the cancer that was Rebecca Howe. I still blame her for singlehandedly destroying the show as Alan Alda did MASH. That Vulcan faced, clothes-pin-nosed, whiny-voiced, perpetual Jenny Craig failure story steered ‘the place where everybody knows your name’ right into the rocks. I will never forgive either of these people for robbing us of 2 great pieces of Americana. But I’m not going to let them bother me any more.

Thanks for playing along. I hope you’re enjoying it so far.

Until next week, Syd Nichols