When a copy of How to Aggravate a Woman Every Time arrived at this office, a staff writer picked it up and began to read aloud: ''Don't acknowledge her in public.' 'Constantly ask for a back rub and never offer one.' Hey,'' he announced gleefully, ''I could've written this!''
But the wicked spoof wasn't by a man nor by Y.I. Hatem, the author credited on the cover. It was concocted by a group of women at Hyperion Books. ''We were sitting at an editorial meeting,'' says rights director Kris Kliemann, when someone mentioned Naura Hayden's best-seller, How to Satisfy a Woman Every Time. '''Forget it,' we all shrieked, 'it's more like How to Aggravate a Woman Every Time.'''
In that instant a book was born. The only two men present publisher Bob Miller and editor Tom Miller glanced at each other nervously as staffers began trading their pet peeves. ''My boyfriend made a wall montage out of his tennis rackets.'' ''I had a boyfriend who gave me a cat to which he was very allergic so he wouldn't have to come over so much.'' ''I had a boyfriend who only took me to restaurants with TVs, then always sat where he could watch.'' In the following two weeks, the women assembled a long list of grievances, which editors Jenny Gauthier and Mary Ann Naples then pruned and sorted. ''There were lots of similar ones,'' recalls publicity director Lisa Kitei. ''Socks were a theme.''
When asked how the men in their lives have responded to the book, the women all laugh. ''They're scared,'' says one. ''Scared?'' scoffs Kitei. ''My boyfriend is irritated because he contributed so much, he felt he should be listed in the acknowledgments.'' Actually, says Kliemann, ''probably the most annoying thing a man can do is look at the book and say, 'But I don't do any of those things, do I, honey?'''