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Life is full of annoyances

I was doing a weekly online quiz recently when I ran across a question about what annoys motorists the most out of three possibilities - drivers using cell phones, tailgaters or drivers who don't signal turns.

How driving too slow in the left lane, a common complaint in our area, didn't make the list is beyond me. But a national poll conducted for Drive for Life, a driver safety organization, determined that motoring cell phone users were the No. 1 annoyance for drivers, especially guys, while 37 percent of those who participated in the survey admitted they were prone to talk on the phone while driving.

Which gives us a nice theme here - stuff that annoys you.

Take, for instance, annoying celebrities. If you had asked me a few months back who the most annoying celebrities in the world were, I would have gone with Paris Hilton, Michael Moore or Donald Trump, mostly because they're - well - annoying.

But that was before Tom Cruise went and fell in love.

Cruise has been in the movies for some time now because he's attractive to women and attractive people can be in movies without having to actually act very much. So, Tom has tried to dispel the rumor that he's secretly a Disneyland automatron by jumping up and down on Oprah's couch, proclaiming undying love for actress Katie Holmes, and emotionally pleading the case against psychiatry because it contradicts a religion created by a science-fiction writer whose books are the only things in existence drier than Cruise's acting.

Unfortunately, even if Cruise's remake of "The War of the Worlds" tanks out as quickly as it should, he'll still get a new round of annoying TV appearances when he and Katie tie the knot or chant from a mountaintop or read aloud a chapter of "Dianetics."

So, for the near term at least, Cruise is Mr. Annoying. Mike, Paris, Donny - sorry, folks. You're all fired.

Unfortunately, a new annoying trend is starting up - recycled scandal figures. Paula Jones, who accused former President Clinton of sexually harassing her when he was governor of Arkansas, is ready to make a high-profile appearance at Clinton's presidential library.

Jones, who says she's already spent the $150,000 she cleared in her settlement with Clinton, mentioned a couple of reasons for her planned high-profile visit. There's only one - money. She plans to wear a T-shirt advertising her sponsor.

There is, however, a bright development to mention, which will annoy the staunch pessimist. If you're a single person constantly being hounded by annoying friends and family who want to set you up on a blind date, I've stumbled upon the perfect restaurant. It's a little on the expensive side, but you won't need to preschedule a mid-meal contingency cell phone call, which can be annoying to nearby diners.

The meals at the Dans Le Loir are a bit pricey - $48 to $60 per person, on average - but the real expense is getting there. It's in Paris - France, not Texas, which means you have to jump the Big Pond. When you're led to your seat, however, you'll find that your meal will consist of - well, you'll have to guess or take the wait staff's word for it. The dining room is completely blacked out. Your date could have three eyeballs and a mole the size of Paris Hilton on his or her nose, but it wouldn't spoil the ribeye, if that, in fact, is really what you're eating.

And if you're not sure that a pitch-black eatery is a good idea, you can always check your horoscope first - unless it's done by Russian astrologer Marina Bai.

Bai's annoyed with NASA because the space agency slammed a refrigerator-sized probe into the comet Tempel 1 earlier this month, thereby altering the harmony of the universe and botching up her charts and wreaking general havoc with horoscope writing.

I suppose this can be bad for the horoscoping business, but I don't find it too annoying. After all, I'm an Aquarian and we Aquarians have always been skeptical of horoscopes.

On the other hand, you don't have to be a psychic to figure out that NASA officials are pretty annoyed with Bai.

She's suing them for $300 million.

Jim Hendricks is editor of the Albany Herald, sister paper of the Gwinnett Daily Post. He can be reached at 229-888-9352 or e-mail jim.hendricks@albanyherald.com .