There are two kinds of people when it comes to being irritating -- the ones who irritate you and have no clue, and the ones who irritate you on purpose.
Case in point: "School is out at 9:30," I remind my husband, who is picking up our soon-to-be 14-year-old daughter. He heard me. He says okay just as she walks into the room.
"Who is picking me up?" she asks.
"I am," her father answers. "I will be there at 10."
"Wait ... school is out at 9:30," she says. He is straight faced. No smile. Serious.
"OK, then I'll be there at 8:30," he tells her. "Wait ... no, I'll be there at 11," he says.
She gives him a look that should be classified and used within the CIA, sighs so deeply I fear she may pass out from lack of oxygen, and stomps out the door.
"You know you irritate her ..." I warn him and he laughs and says how he can't help it because it's so much fun. He knows exactly what he's doing. He's a brave man.
On the other hand, a lady eating lunch at the table next to me not so terribly long ago had no clue she was irritating me. It wasn't her fault. Maybe she didn't know that every time she took a bite of her salad, her metal fork was scraping against her teeth.
I wasn't angry at her, not at all. I tried to block it out, that scrape, scrape, scraaaaaaaaaping sound every minute or so. But it was amplified in my brain, like one of those boom-boom cars you pull up next to at the traffic light where the music is so loud your car actually vibrates and you wonder how on earth the person in the boom-boom car isn't deaf from playing their music so loud. I wondered how the woman couldn't notice the scraaaaaaaaaping against her teeth every time she put a piece of lettuce in her mouth.
I came to the conclusion that I was just having a bad day and shouldn't think badly of the teeth scraper. Maybe it's not even something that irritates anyone else, just me. Probably not another soul even noticed it. But my teeth still hurt remembering that sound. It's irritating.
When he was little, our son used to say his sister aggabated him.
"Aggabate?" I asked him. "She's aggabating me," he said, referring to his little sister who, it appeared, had decided to teething slobber on his super hero action figure's head. Oh ... aggravating him.
"She doesn't mean to aggravate you. She's just a baby," I assured him, even though I suspected the devious look in her 1-year-old eyes meant she knew exactly what she was doing. She was "aggabating" him all right. And she liked it.
It's a family trait.
"Guess what I did today?" I asked my husband just the other afternoon. Did I really want him to guess? No. Does he want to aggravate me? Yes.
"Wait. Don't tell me ... you rode a unicorn," he guesses. I look at him.
"OK ... you ate an entire buffalo ... No? OK, you sprouted wings and flew to California ..."
"You're being aggravating," I tell him. It's wasted breath. He knows it.
"OK, I'm out of guesses. What did you do today?" he asks.
Silence. Darn it. I forgot what I was going to tell him.
Now that's what I call aggabating.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.