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?