Choosing to sweat the small stuff

They might not be war, famine, or even Pippa’s posterior, but these subjects are worth railing about

By Bella English
Globe Staff / August 23, 2011

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Sweating the small stuff has fallen on hard times. No one is allowed to sweat the small stuff anymore. Doing so makes you seem, well, small. Petty. Picky. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.’’ You hear people say it all the time.

Know what? I’m tired of sweating the big stuff: Mitt Romney wearing skinny jeans; whether Pippa’s posterior is padded. And the really big stuff makes you crazy: our troops still fighting two wars, the bipolar stock market, businessmen in Somalia stealing food out of starving babies’ mouths.

So I’m here today to perform a public service by sweating the small stuff for you. Hey, it’s not that easy. There’s a ton of small stuff worth sweating. For instance, I stopped into a Starbucks yesterday to treat myself to a green tea lemonade, size medium - er, grande. It cost $3.60 and was at least half ice. Ditto for the chai, often half foam. Forget the “hand-crafted’’ drinks, just give me a full cup, dude.

Moving on, it’s been a while now, but I will never get over it: Why did Hershey’s have to take the almonds, there were two of them, out of the divine 5th Avenue bar?

Now that penny candy costs a quarter, can we please just drop the “penny’’ from this misnamed species? And when did cupcakes start costing 4 bucks apiece?

Do you find the word “hipster’’ silly? And have you ever heard someone actually use it? No, you haven’t. But you sure see it in print a lot, usually from writers who are trying to sound hip.

Why does everything have to have raisins in it? Raisins are vile. As the late, great Dorothy Parker wrote of awakening on her 40th birthday: “This was bad news. This was bad news with raisins in it.’’

And enough already with all the roasted red peppers.

I never thought I’d say it, but Piers Morgan makes me long for Larry King. It will be interesting to see Morgan on the hot seat if he testifies before Parliament in the phone-hacking scandal. Not that he himself has ever put someone on the hot seat, unless it’s asking Denise Richards to share her makeup tips. The only Brits more annoying are Simon Cowell and Lord Cornwallis.

A recent front-page story in The New York Times told of wicked old people getting plastic surgery. It featured an 83-year-old woman who had breast implants. It cost $8,000, took three hours, and included a breast lift. When I told my 83-year-old mother-in-law about it, she responded: “The only surgery I’m having is on my bunions.’’ I’ll spare you what she said about her breasts.

Myself, I can think of 8,000 better ways to spend $8,000. Cupcakes, for one.

Here’s what gets on my friend Joan’s nerves: “The Book of Awesome,’’ by Neil Pasricha, which claims to “celebrate the good things in life - by the sheer power of their awesomeness.’’ His sequel, “The Book of Even More Awesome,’’ is even more grating.

Another un-awesome thing: trying on bathing suits. This is why I haven’t gotten a new one in five years.

A word on thongs: ewwwwwwww, even if you have a perfect body. Or, as an African friend remarked upon seeing a thong-wearing woman for the first time: “That isn’t right.’’

No, it isn’t.

For those of you, like me, with a teenager, isn’t it obnoxious when you go to the freezer for a popsicle and find the box empty? Ditto for finding the milk carton empty, the toilet roll empty, the gas tank empty. It’s a good thing we love our kids.

How about the clueless people who check their e-mails or call waiting when you’re having a conversation with them?

And there’s a special place reserved for those who cut in line. I was in line at the grocery store recently and had four items in my basket. The person behind me - I’m not kidding - said: “Can I please go ahead of you? I only have two things.’’

To the woman who was applying makeup while driving in the next lane: Please don’t. To the Nigerian prince who keeps e-mailing me about the million dollars I’ll get if I’ll just send him $100,000 as an initial investment: The check is not in the mail.

Also, no thanks to the Viagra spammers.

But, God, I’d love a cupcake. If only I could afford one.

Bella English can be reached at