Connoisseur of fine whines

It's easy to sniff out a fine whine.

Most of us recognize that telltale high-pitched tone. It betrays us, saying more clearly than words that something isn't going our way, and those within earshot often become so uneasy that they head for the nearest exit.

If our palates could taste a fine whine, we might describe it as sour, bitter and, depending on how it's served and who is serving it, somewhat irritating.

Try sniffing out a fine whine in the grocery story. See little Paulie pulling at Mommy's pant leg, "Mommeeee, Mommeeee, I want this cereeeeal."

Mommy becomes agitated. "Paulie-eeee, don't whinnnne!" she says in that high-pitched voice.

Heads turn, and with military precision, carts swivel in the opposite direction. No one wants to listen to whining.

How about the parking lot whines? I'm willing to admit I can be a sore loser, too, when someone zips into my parking space, beating me by a hair.

My whine ages as I continue complaining for the rest of the afternoon about her audacity.

Pull up a chair at a bridge table and you'll find other varietals of fine whines.

Winnie Whiner complains that lousy distribution caused her to lose five hands yesterday. Wilma Whiner complains to spouse Wally that he played the last hand very poorly. And the marriage of fine whines lasts for days or weeks.

Ask any host or waitress about their special restaurant varietals. Take Walter Whiner who wants thaaaat table by thaaat window. After all, he made his reservation a weeeek ago.

Mr. Whiner is in constant contact with the waiter throughout the meal. Take this souuup back. It's not hot enough. The saaalmon is overcooked. I waaaant to speak to the chef.

My guess is he's also a political whiner - one of those who point their fingers and blame everyone else for the country's problems. What distinguishes winners and whiners is that winners take action while whiners do nothing but complain. So it is with many politicians and political party patrons.

It's easy to forgive the whining country western singers, though, perhaps because they tell the stories of everyone's broken hearts. After all, we've all been wronged, cheated, lied to and walked out on. Whiners love to revisit those sad and painful losses and country music retains its hold on our collective psyche.

Don't worry if lost love is not your issue. The varietals seem limitless.

Consider corporate executive whines. They want their mega-million-dollar bonuses and golden parachutes, even though they've lost other people's jobs and retirement funds, given away the store and have little conscience about driving the world's economy to its knees.

They still dine as they whine, "We deeeeserve those bonuses."

Then there's the everyday variety that shows up at almost any meeting. Notice the difference between the whiners, who love being asked for their opinions, and the folks who get things done. Whining is about a glass half empty. Those with their glasses half full don't need the whine.

Full-body whines are a favorite. They boo-hoo because they weren't invited to this year's social gala or they get miffed because their name wasn't mentioned in the newspaper or they grow huffy when they don't receive bows, kudos and curtseys for their contributions to whatever cause they embraced.

Big whine. Little whine. Subtle whine. From bad hair days, to the coffee-isn't-hot-enough, to PMS pity parties, the whining goes on. Terrible, horrible, very bad days. The litany of complaints languishes in length and latitude.

Winners take responsibility for their actions; whiners relish playing victim. Winners have what they want and whiners want what they can't have. Winners find a way and whiners find an excuse.

Life isn't perfect - but it's certainly interesting. We all whine now and then, but I try to remember that if I don't like some part of my life, it's better to quit whining and try to fix it - no matter how big the challenge.

Or maybe, seriously start looking for the silver whining.

Ruth Marcus can be reached at

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