Mar 9, 2022–I’ve been accused of coming across as a curmudgeon in my writing. I thought it would be interesting to examine my peeves and figure out if there was any pattern. So prepare for a spleen purge.

I hate puns.

They serve no purpose.

They distract from the conversation.

Everyone else piles on with their obvious follow-up pun–any reference to “cow” calls up plays on moo, udder, and bovine, etc.

Their only purpose is to show how clever the punster is.

Purportedly the ability to make puns is sign of intelligence. I don’t pretend to be that smart.

I hate exclamation points.

They are the “please clap” of a bad political speech.

If you can’t move a reader using words, tacking on 5 exclamations at the end won’t make it more exciting.

I hate cliches.

(Insert obvious pun here)

I hate acronyms.

When I got into teaching, I noticed acronyms were the secret code to let other educators know you belonged to the tribe. Every field uses them–medicine, government, military, texting.

While meant to streamline conversation, using acronyms only serves to signal to interlopers that they do not belong.

I hate inside jokes.

They’re just… rude.

Jeryl Hoover pointed this out when directing plays. He always reminded us to not clap for other actors during curtain call. He explained that this comes across to the audience as the actors belonging to a private, self-congratulating club. You never want to build that wall.

I hate analogies.

Nothing is like anything else. Every circumstance is unique. So stop trying to convince me that X is like Y. No, X is not like Y.

Getting a shot is not like wearing a seatbelt.

Smoking is not like passing gas.

A door is not like a window.

I hate needlessly flowery language.

As a young man reading the Psalms, it struck me that there seemed to be a lot of repetition and verbosity. Upon further research I learned that repetition, poetry, beauty, and sentiment was the accepted style of writing of ancient Hebrews. My impatient younger self wished there was a Cliff Notes version, which I undertook to write.

So I tried summarizing Psalm 1:

Those who obey God have joy.

Sinners don’t.

The Lord sorts them out.

That’s as far as I got. Then I discovered there is a Cliff Notes version of the entire Old Testament. Now, I’m not sure how I feel about that…

By now I’ve managed to irritate most of my readers, including those who love word play, members of the teaching profession, actors, and devout Bible readers. Paradoxically, I am all of the above.

So what’s the point? What do all my “hates” have in common?

They inhibit communication.

And communicating is what I love.