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Futile Pet Peeves
[03/05/2002] [Randall]

Have you ever had a futile pet peeve? You know, the kind of thing where you really, really hate some trivial aspect of life and there’s no hope of you ever changing it? These are bothersome burdens to bear, because you can’t really lash out against something trivial without seeming a bit irrational, and you can’t try to change something permanent without seeming foolish. And yet there they are, like little splinters you can’t dig out, throbbing mildly to remind you that you're at odds with the world. I have a few futile pet peeves, like where I hate hearing smaller parts of a kingdom called “sublands”, or where I get grumpy because McDonalds won’t serve Sausage McMuffins after 10:30 AM. They drive me crazy, but it just isn't worth the time or energy butting my head against the wall of inertial stupidity.

On the other hand, seeming foolish and irrational is a small price to pay if I can get rid of one particular pet peeve. It's the way people talk about awards.

Have you ever talked to anyone about Amtgard awards? Imagine -- you’re hanging out after a day of hard combat, and you and a pal are kickin’ it freestyle while you ramble about your goals and dreams in the club. Perhaps your buddy wants to be a lord. Maybe you’re aiming for a masterhood. You listen to each other’s plans and talk about how you hope to get the title of lord too, and he says he’d like to be champion and maybe get defender. Your day complete, you hop in the car and drive home, thinking of the work you can do to earn your coveted title.

Except that’s a whole load of crap. On the one hand, we know even the most unknightworthy clod will talk about his plans to be a knight. Second, nobody says they’re working towards an award... they say they are working towards THEIR awards.

Ok, so I lied a little – it’s two futile pet peeves. The first is about how people hang around saying, “I’m working towards my flame belt” or “You should go for your defender” like they own the titles or have some god-given right to them. The second is the fact that nobody even contemplates the fact that maybe, just maybe, they don’t deserve knighthood.

What’s up with that? My this, my that. It’s awfully presumptuous. I mean, if it was “your” belt, you would “have” it. Talking like you deserve it – or, heck, like you can even earn it – is rude at best, and delusionally psychotic at worst. It’s like marking your territory, only it stinks more. The only people who have a right to use a possessive when discussing titles are those who have the titles. The rest of you just talk like a bunch of jerks.

And what about the knighthood thing? Let’s do a little experiment. How many people have told you they are working on being a knight, yet you know they’ll only get dubbed if hell freezes over? Now think about how many highly-qualified people you know who say they don’t want a belt. Which number is greater? By my reckoning, the humble folks are outnumbered on the scale a hundred to one. It’s like a big sea of delusional foam-heads yammering about their invisible belts that they haven’t earned yet but somehow are still described as their own.

I know, I know... nobody really means it that way, and this is just how Amtgarders talk. It's just idle chatter about titles. And why should anyone change, just because it pisses off some random jackass in Las Cruces? Ah, well - I did say this was a futile pet peeve. But if I can just reach one person, and change the way they talk about awards, I’ll consider this rant a small victory. It’ll be my virtual bucket, bailing virtual water out of the sinking ship of Amtgard decorum. And maybe, just maybe, that one person will get someone else to change, and they’ll get someone else to change, and so on, and so on, until we’re all one big, happy family of Amtgarders that discusses awards with reverence, respect, and humility.

Until then, I’ll be working towards my Sausage McMuffin.

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