Ever since the new year started, I decided I would resolve to be a more tolerant, more patient, and all around better me. The decision, not unlike most that I make at this juncture in my life, was inspired by my children. But I’m going to try to parlay this ‘new me’ concept into all aspects of my life. It would be kind of a diluted resolution if I were angelic all day at home with my family and then a total jackass the moment I stepped out of the house. And unfortunately, I don’t yet possess the financial luxury of being a total recluse.

So the theme to the column for the last 3 or 4 weeks, (not sure exactly how many, I don’t follow it) has been a running list of my pet peeves and irritants that once consumed me but that I am no longer going to let bother me. Since I first started this piece, the number of things on this list in my notebook has grown to well over a hundred. I was going to break them down into outline form and stick with a theme each week, but there were two major factors going against that time consuming process: my kids and my love of procrastination. I also thought it would be more fun to deliver this list completely at random as it is written. So here comes more from the long list of things that the new me will no longer be pissed off about.

1. My method of choosing what to write next is a very sophisticated and scientific one that entails me closing my eyes and putting my finger down on my notebook. The first subject drawn in my annoyance lottery this week is the television program House. Now let me apologize in advance to a handful of people, because this one may either sting a bit or enlighten you. First, the postmenopausal ladies who think that the ideal evening is putting on your old robe, curling up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn, a glass of cheap wine, and your morbidly obese cat and watching a marathon of House repeats until you fall asleep. Second, to the twenty-something newlywed couple who make sure they are home at a certain time so they can curl up and watch it together and try to solve this week’s medical mystery as a team. They do this only to try and convince their families, friends, and themselves that they are adults and have more in common than just playing video games.

I’ll be the first to admit that the show is mildly entertaining, and when it first aired, I too watched it with interest. At least for the first 2 weeks. Then the perpetual cynic in me began to hyper-analyze it. My first realization, though I’ve never worked in a hospital, was that this show was about as close to reality as an Aaron Spelling high school drama, an episode of Tom and Jerry, or anything on the TruTv network. I also firmly believe that you can judge one’s intellect based on how many episodes of House they had to watch before they realized that every single one is exactly the same. As I previously stated, I made it to the second episode. I also find the casting always entertaining and a very useful distraction tool from the actual story line. I’ll try to illustrate each of my points in just one example:

Let me first set the table and introduce some of the cast. There’s the star of the show, Hugh Laurie who is a British dude playing a surly, sarcastic curmudgeonly American self anointed genius. Now I didn’t delve too deep into his filmography, or theatrical resume, but the roles I recall him best known for were one of Cruella DeVille’s bumbling henchmen in the human version of 101 Dalmatians, and his near Oscar worthy role as Stuart Little’s adoptive father. So prior to being the intimidating super doctor in a prestigious hospital, he was a clumsy dog napper, and the patriarch of a family with a talking mouse who drove a red sports car. Now the rest of the cast usually consists of a bunch of late twenty-something eye candy from a wide range of ethnic, religious, and racial backgrounds to detract from the handicapped junky who heads up the cast. It essentially looked more like the casting couch from an old Benetton commercial than a hospital drama. I’m going to describe a specific episode of the show and you all have to try and guess which one it is. A completely miserable doctor, who is under heavy scrutiny from the hospitals administration, has one foot out the career door. He is openly addicted to Vicodin and routinely throughout the show consumes them straight from the bottle in plain view of staff and patients. Yet he is allowed to treat them. He has zero bedside manner, is an abrasive total smartass, and openly berates and belittles his staff. He completely alienates the family of the patient. He misdiagnoses and mistreats the patient’s ailment at least twice nearly causing death each time yet is never sued or reprimanded. Then, right after the last commercial break he and his crack team of attractive misfits who didn’t get the role in a Mentos commercial, and the one token unattractive middle aged white guy who is there just for balance and will be gone next season, miraculously cure the mysterious ailment just in time to tell the patient they can go home tomorrow after nearly dying 3 times. Do you guys remember which episode this was? If you answered “every single episode of the show from the beginning,” than you are correct. But I’m not going to let that bother me any more.

2.Now this one is very personal to me and it enrages me every time I hear it to the point where I have actually called people out on it and berated them. I’m going to refrain from breaking literary rules by using all caps in this next statement followed by a barrage of exclamation points. So please just imagine that I am screaming this point as loudly and emphatically as I can. It’s not ‘babysitting’ when they are your children! It’s called raising them and being a parent. I get furious every time I hear someone say this and I don’t hesitate to call them out for it. If you are staying home to oversee the well being and safety of your own offspring, and you think the name of this act is the same word used on a handwritten flyer printed by the 14 year old girl down the street and posted on a sign post; then I can confidently say that you never should have been permitted to spawn in the first place. This is not a $10 an hour under the table side job to put towards your first car. It’s called being a parent! I don’t know why it makes me so mad every time I hear this. But I am going to at least try to not let them bother me anymore.

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

Until next week, Syd Nichols