Everyone has a pet peeve about certain words and phrases. I have many, including "pet peeve." It sounds like an adorable little furry ball that doesn't do much but sit in its cage and make high-pitched cooing sounds. If you're peeved by something, it's not akin to a pet. It's like saying "companion annoyance."
Most of the words that irritate purists are lost causes; you may die a bit inside when someone says "impactful" or that something has "synergy," which sounds like electricity generated by immorality.
The boring, soul-dead words come out of corporations and academe, but the worst violence done to language comes from ad agencies. To cut through the chaff and blather of daily noise, they must invent new contortions that sound fresh. And this brings us to cheese. (How? Stick with me — I'll get back to the point eventually.)
I hesitate to even mention any sort of food, because the True Experts are quick to offer suggestions. For instance, announce that you've found a new brand of salsa that you like, and salsa experts will jump in to tell you that the best salsa is Hot Mama Termater Sloppin' Soss that you can get only in Butlap, Texas, three days a year, and everything else is crap, and you're stupid for liking what you like.
Publicly stating your cheese preference isn't quite as bad. It doesn't trigger snobbus interruptus, for some reason. Perhaps it's a higher form of snobbery. There's no point in suggesting you try the Grand Parmigiano Ruggieri di Sputocapri 1999, because you couldn't understand the way the subtle, nutty flavor is balanced by a famous pungency that Food and Drink magazine once compared to "a morgue of dead feet."
The truth is, I'm content with Kraft. I buy it, because I'm not putting $16 cheese on a taco so it can be shouted down by Hot Mama Termater Sloppin' Soss salsa. Sometimes you just need basic Cheddar. Or sharp Cheddar. Or extra sharp Cheddar. Or ginzu Cheddar, which is so sharp it'll pop a balloon.
I also buy pepper jack, a flavor that was invented in the '80s, I believe. Pepper jack started appearing on menus, and we were intrigued: It certainly sounded more interesting than regular jack, which also is known as Monterey Jack or, as we call it, albino Velveeta.
All of these types of cheese come in plastic bags, preshredded. If there's a sale, you might buy the bricks and feel like you're living in the 19th century when feeding your family was a DYI project.
Step one: Shred the cheese, thinking "I'm cooking!" You knock off the stragglers hanging from the back of the grater. But the front part of the grater is full of cheese residue, so you use a brand-new sponge to get it off. Now the sponge is ruined, to no one's surprise. So you throw away the sponge and put the grated cheese in a plastic bag, forget about it and discover it later when it's turned into a rectangle of Venusian fur.
Step two: Go back to the store and buy the preshredded cheese.
Here's where we get — finally — to my peeve du jour. There was a new slogan on the bottom of the cheese package. That got me excited: What bright, clever combinations of words have they devised to make me feel good about pliable, flavored, bovine byproducts?
It said: "Family Greatly."
I recognized the words but they made no sense. I must have misread them. But, no, that's what it said. The creative wordsmiths had decided that family was a verb, and having done so, were encouraging me to family in a great way.
Turns out it's a big ad campaign. Ad Age had the details: "There's no one perfect way to family," said Anne Field, director of brand building for Kraft. "As long as you're doing it with love and conviction, we support how you family."
This is Job Stupiding. While I wish the folks at Kraft all the best, I will not stand for a cheese conglomerate making a verb of family.
If we accept this, it'll only get worse.
Gas stations: Car Fuelingly. Domino's: Pizza Hotingly. Newspapers: Strib Readingly. Boxing: Glove Hardingly. Columnists: Peeve Rantingly.
No, wait — peeve already is a verb. Unless it's something you have as a pet. "Family Greatly" is my pet peeve. I'm afraid I need to have it put down.