Nuisance

I teach language in a university near where I live. Specifically, the ENGLISH language. In my current class (yeah, I’m teaching one month postpartum- but don’t get me started), we just looked at the word nuisance. It’s defined by Merriam-Webster as 1. harm, injury or 2 : one that is annoying, unpleasant, or obnoxious : pest. Related to the Middle English noisaunce, from Anglo-French nuisir, which means to harm, originally from the Latin nocere, also meaning to harm. Related to the Greek prefix nec- or nex-, suggesting death. Violent death. Or a dead body. Gotta love etymology.

I venture to guess that the last time you used the word, you indended no such morbid connotations.

Reflecting on the word made me think of the way I use it, which is more akin to the meaning 2- annoying, unpleasant, or obnoxious. That fly is a nuisance. Emission testing is a nuisance. Salmonella in tomatoes is such a nuisance.

More nuisances (nuiscentia? nuisantii?):

-The raw, red, putrid part under a baby’s chin, which never sees the light of day and does much to abolish the sentiment that babies smell like roses, angels, and all-that-is-sweet.

-Having to go into the gas station and pay at the counter because of a “MAGNETIC STRIP ERROR” on your check card. In the rain. When you’re late for work. And nine months pregnant.

-Birth control. (See previous posts)

-When you change the coffee filter at 5am, and the old grounds explode in a pyrotechnic cataclysm all over your newly-mopped kitchen floor, causing you in your panic to simultaneously kick over the trash can, hit your head on a shelf, let fly a few choice interjections, and wake up the sleeping baby, as well as the Hellpuppy in the apartment upstairs, who begins chasing the cat in a circle and sounds like thunder on the ceiling above.

-95-degree heat, 100% humidity, and two kids under 5.

-The way R leaves his wet towels, post-shower, on the bed. Specifically, on my side of the bed. Precisely, on my pillow. 

I’m really not in a bad mood- actually, enumerating these nuisances puts me in a much better mood. I know, I could have it a lot worse. But sometimes it’s actually easier to deal with the more impactful things, rather than the small, pernicious ones. I have this theory that nuisances involve one of two categories: other people or machine failure. I’m pretty sure all of mine fall into one of those two. Any thoughts?  

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2 Responses to Nuisance

  1. antropologa says:

    You are totally right about the etiology of nuisances. Except that I generally believe that machine failure is ALSO caused by other people, thus making other people the source of all unhappiness. Or animals. As in the case of all the animal excretions I have to clean up.

    As soon as the baby gets a neck that should clear up. At least it did for Baby!

  2. Lenne' says:

    When are you going to write a book – I would so buy it and read every word.

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