When I was in high school, the song “Mickey” by Toni Basil was incredibly popular. Anytime it was on the radio, I would crank it up and sing along. It was so perky, so infectious, so irresistible!
Apparently, every other 16-year-old in western North Dakota thought the same thing. People requested it constantly. In fact, in a fit of “Mickey”-induced exhaustion, one radio DJ protested by playing “Mickey” nonstop, over and over, for an entire evening. His point was made. I wasn’t crazy about “Mickey” after that. Even if I hear it today, I start to twitch in revulsion.
This got me thinking about all those other things in life that initially seem like the greatest thing in the world. Then they are overexposed, overplayed and overhyped to the point where you can’t stand them.
For instance, you probably didn’t mind hearing phrases like “in these difficult times” in the early days of COVID-19. I used that phrase many times myself. I even wiped away a tear or two when witnessing some of the first “We’re Here for You During This Difficult Time” commercials.
Then oversaturation hits, followed quickly by cynicism. Really, Amazon? You’re here for me? Why do I keep hearing that you aren’t providing PPE to your warehouse workers?
It prompted me to post the following invite to my Facebook friends: “Things that are delightful for the first 10 minutes and gratingly irritating forever after that. Go.” As usual, the hive buzzed with answers ranging from insightful (“snow”) to strangely specific (“people throwing marshmallows at you”) to funny (“talking about your feelings”). Here’s a sample of what they said.
- Jeans (especially after two months of wearing sweats).
- Any meeting you have to attend, especially Zoom meetings.
- The prolonged Minnesota goodbye. (“About to leave” warning, followed by a “We’ve gotta get going.” Then: Hugs, walking out to the driveway, one more conversation in the driveway, more hugs, talking while everyone is in the car and rolling down windows to say goodbye once more while someone yells: “Watch for deer!”) It’s worth noting that social-distancing has amended the Minnesota goodbye somewhat (elbow bumps or air hugs vs. real hugs), but there still are at least three different rounds of goodbye.
- A neighbor’s tinny wind chimes.
- Texts that remind us that our prescriptions are filled. At first, we’re impressed that they are reminding us, but after the fourth one, you’re like, “You’re not the boss of me, CVS!”
- A child stealing the show at a school program.
- Appliances that ding to remind you there’s food in the microwave. Every five minutes. Until you rip the microwave out of the wall with your bare hands.
- Jim Carrey.
- Wedding-dance standards, such as “The Macarena,” “YMCA,” “Uptown Funk,” “Cha-Cha Slide,” “Mambo No. 5,” “Friends in Low Places” and anything by Billy Idol.
- Drunken karaoke.
- Songs crooned in rounds (relentlessly and tunelessly).
- People with peculiar or loud laughs. Funny at first; sooo irritating when you go through four years of high school with that person.
- Clever political ads.
- Working out. (I would argue this is never delightful.)
- Squirrels. (So cute! So clever! So chasing off all the birds and destroying the bird feeders!)
- Someone suggested “Layla,” by Eric Clapton. (I agree, although I would have to vote for “I Shot the Sheriff” as most irritating overall.)
- Squeaky dog toys.
- Big Billy Bass.
- Home shopping parties.
- Your enrollment in “Fruit of the month” club.
- Business meetings at lunch or dinner (even if the boss pays).
- Elementary school violin concerts.
- Road trips. (“We have the snacks! We have the tunes! This is going to be so fun! Oh man, are we there yet?”)
- Your very first yoga class. (“This seems easy. It’s just stretching. I really like this corpse pose. You want me to do what?”)
- Limu the Emu and Doug on the Liberty Mutual commercials.
- Painting walls.
- Making cut-out Christmas cookies.
- High school reunions.
- Baseball games.
- Christmas shopping.
And still initially delightful, but for a much shorter time than 10 minutes:
- "Caillou" or "Dora the Explorer."
- Tiny, adorable but yappy dogs.
- Really energetic toddlers who tell the truth: “Why do your legs look like big trees?”
- That friend who always tells you the truth.
- Preternaturally perky people. (The same friend followed up this post with “Alliterative word play.”)
- Kids singing “Let it Go.” Loud.
- The song, “Freebird.”
- Big Mouth Billy Bass.
- Lying in a tanning bed.
- Talking about feelings.
- Bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace.”
- “Baby Shark.”
- “MMMBop,” by Hanson. Especially if sung in drunken karaoke by a preternaturally perky in-law who owns a yappy dachshund and also likes to do Jim Carrey impressions.
Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at firstname.lastname@example.org.