Today's insult is more of a back-handed compliment. While living briefly in Vienna, the Clemens family hired a maid who stuck her nose in everybody's business and never shut up. Mr. Clemens nicknamed her Wuthering Heights, no doubt for her melodramatic flair, and she entertained him greatly:
. . . I find myself diffident about finding fault. Not so the family. It gravels the family. I like that. Not maliciously, but because it spices the monotony to see the family graveled. Sometimes they are driven to a point where they are sure they cannot endure her any longer, and they rise in revolt; but I stand between her and harm, for I adore Wuthering Heights . . . She is not monotonous, she does not stale, she is fruitful of surprises, she is always breaking out in a new place. The family are always training her, always caulking her, but it does not make me uneasy any more, now, for I know that as fast as they stop one leak she will spring another. Her talk is my circus, my menagerie, my fireworks, my spiritual refreshment. When she is at it I would rather be there than at a fire.
I really love "gravel," which I don't think I've ever heard used like that but is perfect. Also the caulking metaphor; again, quirky but perfect. I'm starting to think the old guy knew what he was doing.