BLOG: Foreword – Thou Shalt Not Whine

Everybody whines; just look around you wherever you go. We are currently experiencing a worldwide epidemic of whining, and it is only getting worse as the world throws more our way to whine about every day: terrorists, corporate raiders, the housing slump, the shrinking economy, expensive wars, ineffectual government, the hair-raising price of gas, cellulite, acid reflux, the effects of saturated fats. Everybody whines because everybody seems to have something to whine about these days. But just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s nice, and I’m here to put an end to it.

My name is January Jones, and I am the Whine Tester. Welcome to my book, and to my crusade to rid the world of this toxic, easily curable habit for once and for all.

Have you ever wondered why so many people are constantly whining about this or that? Do you incessantly have to deflect the negative energy people spew by whining all around you? Have you ever wanted to tell them to just shut up and keep it to themselves? Has anyone near and dear to you driven you crazy with their whining and complaining? Have you ever asked yourself what they are really whining about? And have you ever wondered how to stop them—or, if whining is your own weakness—how to stop yourself?

Perhaps you don’t believe me. There are skeptics. Perhaps you think people are actually getting mellower and mellower as we evolve. In this case, indulge me by conducting a little experiment that has already proven successful in waking other doubters up to this growing problem. Don’t worry, it’s easy: simply keep your ears open next time you go out to do a series of errands about town. The retail arena is the prime sector of society for everyday whine cultivation and practice, as pointed out to me by one of my many survey subjects, whose own moment of revelation about the insidious prevalence of public whining went like this:

You were right! The other day while I was out and about running my usual boring errands, I noticed that everywhere I went, people were whining, and wondered why I hadn’t noticed it before. While I was at Whole Foods, one woman was whining about the express self-service check out being too slow—and it was! Next stop, I found myself in the long, gray line at the post office, and every single person there was whining, whether it was a loud “Come on!”, a forceful sigh or a simple rolling of the eyes. After that it was on to the gas station, where the outrageous prices were causing a spontaneous whine fest among the self-serve customers at my island. I tried to resist, but I couldn’t help joining in…

I have since successfully helped this complainer and many others to stop whining and start winning instead, and I am hoping this book will help you to do the same. Now, you may be asking, “What makes this January Jones person one of the world’s foremost experts on whining?” And right you are to do so. I hold no degrees in psychology or sociology, but my experience has been more valuable and useful than any mere degree could have been. First of all, I used to suffer from the whining disease myself. Like most girls, I was born a natural whiner. I knew how to get just about anything I wanted by whining, and I quickly mastered all the standard whining tactics while creating some new ones along the way.

My second qualification is that I’m a woman, which means that I can be anything I want to be—and change my mind about what that is whenever I feel like it. Currently I am a golfer, a writer, a wife, a widow, a mother and a grandmother. Also, I host a radio show and publish a weekly e-zine called Whine Time. When it comes to whining, nobody does it better or knows how to stop it more effectively than I do.

As the Whine Tester, I have come up with my own “theories” to aid in my research and whine therapy. I would love to share with all my readers my Grand Whinestein Theory. Granted, it’s not as paradigm-shattering, nor do I believe it will remain as timeless, as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which we all know comes down to the eloquent e=mc2 (even if we have no idea what it means). I am not now nor have I ever been a scientist, and I know it is presumptuous of me to even write about Albert Einstein, but I had no choice. A skeptic once said that I had as much chance of writing a book about whining as I had of writing a book about Einstein. So, non-believer, wherever you now may be, here it is just for you. I’m now writing about whining and Einstein, all in one book—and on one page, no less. Einstein explained space and time to us through high science, and I now offer my own humble findings on the folk science of the whine:

January Jones’s Whinestein Theory

(Whining=MajorComplaining, squared)

In order to expand upon this theory, I developed a technique for diagnosing severity of dysfunction and prescribing curative therapy. My Four Star “A” rating system is designed to help both victims and verbalizers to recognize and address this epidemic.

One-Star: Annoying; causing mild anger or impatience.
Intention of Perpetrator:
I just want to complain and get sympathy.

Two-Star: Attention-hording; requiring unwilling mental focus and causing strong impatience.
Intention of Perpetrator:
You WILL acknowledge me, NOW.

Three-Star: Aggravating; causing severe anger or irritation that can lead to rage.
Intention of Perpetrator:
I really want to drive you CRAZY!

Four Star—Abusive: causing psychological harm or worse through thorough insult and offense.
Intention of Perpetrator: I will not stop until I have irreparably damaged you by verbal attack….

NOTE: This is a serious problem and I don’t like to deal with or validate it in any way, shape or form. If you feel that you or someone you know is a victim of abusive whining, please call a psychoanalyst or the proper authorities
Now I’d like to share with you how my stop-whining system, and this book, works. There are twelve chapters, each one dealing with the top ten whines you are likely to hear from a certain part of your community or family, followed by how to deal with them.

To give you a vivid example, here I’m going to let you in on a whining problem that I have been dealing with throughout my long, long marriage. In this book, you can find this specific whine and its associated cures in Chapter Four (Couples), and it is this, more than anything, that has made me the truly well-versed expert I am today:

My husband is a Three-Star Pillow Whiner. This may not seem like much of a problem to you, but let me tell you about it. It started out as a simple One-Star Annoying Whine. We’d go to bed at night and he would start throwing the pillows from the bed on the floor. “Why do we have so many pillows? I need one and you need one. Why are there ten pillows on our bed?” Now, this was something I could ignore since wives are good at ignoring husbands.

Very soon, though, he became a Two-Star Pillow Whiner. He wanted attention, and he knew just how to get it: he went public! I couldn’t believe it. There we were out to dinner with another couple, and my husband leans over to casually ask the other husband, “How many pillows do you have on your bed?” Well, the other man had no idea and he had to ask his wife. Pretty soon, we were all having pillow talk…in public!

Then my husband went over the top by turning into a Three-Star Whiner on the spot. Once the other husband had ascertained the pillow count on their bed from his wife—which, my husband pointed out with a raised eyebrow to me, was a smaller number than so annoyingly inhabited our own bed—my husband came out with this: “Tell me, are you ever allowed to touch the pillows?” I was flabbergasted, but he went on: “Are you allowed to take them off at night or put them back on the bed in the morning? And if you dare to, don’t they always turn out to be put back the wrong way?!”

The other wife and I shared a copasetic glance that included not only sympathy for our shared lot as women, but solidarity in the unassailable fact that no man on earth has ever or ever will put the pillows back on the bed well enough to please his wife.

How do you deal with a Three-Star Pillow Whiner? In this case, I have used the Universal Smile Cure to great success. It is done with a sincere smile and goes like this: “Honey, how about if we go out for a romantic dinner tonight?” This is followed by, “Sweetie, if you promise not to discuss our bedroom pillows anymore with other men, after dinner we can cuddle in front of the fireplace for our own pillow talk,” Then you can finish up with, “Who knows, maybe we can count the pillows together as we toss them on the floor, and then you’ll know for sure how many we have.” Well, you get the idea! Everyone agrees that smiling is better than whining.

While smiling is universal, though, it’s not everyone who can crack a winning smile at will. Smiling is something that some people are born doing while others can’t be taught to do it. I’m one of those born to smile, while my husband only smiles as a last resort. One time our family auditioned for the Family Feud game show, and my husband had to go to smiling therapy before we could get on. Once we were on stage with Richard Dawson, he couldn’t stop smiling. It was a manic, nervous, hysterical, scary smile that none of us is likely to see again, but it was fortunately saved for posterity on home video.

I have the opposite problem in that I can’t stop smiling. Once I was even smiling when I came out of the operating room on a stretcher in a semi-conscious state. Life is usually easier for anyone who smiles, but it can create some pitfalls. For example, it can be inappropriate at most funerals. It is difficult when I don’t know the bereaved family that well and I’m there smiling like the Sunshine Lady. Church and serious stage plays are also treacherous territories for me to navigate. The problem is that smiles can quickly escalate into hysterical, inappropriate behavior. I can’t count the times that I have looked across the aisle connecting with another smiling idiot as we dissolved into uncontrollable laughter.

Despite my own self-inflicted problems with smiling, I still highly recommend it as a cure for whining. Smiling will disarm a whiner every time. It is impossible to whine while returning a smile. True whiners will be torn between whining or ignoring you, either of which would make them rude. And even the most inveterate of whiners knows that being rude is much worse than being a compulsive complainer.

The best thing about the smiling cure is that you can pretty much say or do anything as long as you have a smile on your face. It is one of my favorites, but you will find over 100 cures for over 100 whines in this book to add to your bag of tricks. These cures have been culled from years of personal research along with a survey of several hundred people of different ages, genders, races and social strata.

Whining is a toxic topic that the survey subjects responded to with amazing and revealing honesty and humor. The top ten whines for all age groups are exposed and dealt with in this book, along with cures that work.

Doing this survey has been one of the most enjoyable projects that I have ever undertaken. Each day my e-mail brings me humorous, creative replies from so many people from all over the world that I already have enough whines to fill up a few more volumes. It has been a real education. I feel like I’ve become Clearing House Central for the complaining and whining in our world; and here, for the first time, I am able to share my experience and findings with you and yours.

I hope you enjoy finding your favorite whiners in the following pages; and if you happen to find yourself, whatever you do, don’t whine about it!

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