“Overreaction is my only reaction.”
–Eminem in the D12 song “S*** On You”
After a very unpleasant incident today involving a large and expensive wardrobe that I was helping my mother put together, and which will never now see completion in its current form (unless I can get a replacement panel from the company), it’s clear to me that beneath my mild-mannered, Clark Kentish exterior beats the hard of a raging douchebag. I’ve been angry all my life, and I want it to stop, so here, in the second of my “emotional exploration” posts, I’ll bare the part of my soul that bashes computers, slams doors, and mutters under its breath when a cashier asks if it has a loyalty card.
Don’t worry, though: apart from (a) one shameful incident in my youth that I’ll go into later, and (b) boxing in Wii Sports (where my mother holds her own against me), I’ve never hit a female human being, and the only casualties of my futile fury have been males of my own age, electronic equipment, the air (being turned blue counts as a form of injury, right?), and my self-respect.
First of all, things that don’t make me angry include football and other “professional” sports, voting habits on TV talent shows, betrayals among groovy but vacuous youngsters in fly-on-the-wall documentaries… yeah, “real life” things don’t get my blood boiling unless they actually matter in some way, like injustice. I spoke at unnecessary length before about my anger at the treatment of men in modern society, the way we’re all regarded as big apes and potential rapists just because some men in the past were, but it also angers me that when a woman is convicted of a crime against children, she’s vilified even more than anyone else, to the point of calls for the death penalty to be reinstated. Which is even more tragic when the woman turns out to have been innocent all along, and only convicted because a bungling “expert witness” decided that two cot deaths can’t possibly be congenital.
There’s also the theft of our civil liberties and right to criticise the “great and good” by our national and regional governments (I took part in the “Barnet Spring” march last week — that’s me holding up the sign next to the coffin with the ballot box on top… it was really cold, all right?). This includes the plans for enforced censorship and observation of our Internet habits, which I’ll go into in another post. Suffice to say, for whatever is angrying up my blood this week, just go and read a copy of the latest Private Eye…
However, these are all righteous anger-inducing things, that should upset any decent human being. My problem is that I get angry — suddenly, and sometimes violently — over really stupid, trivial things. Just because I don’t scream abuse at some fit young man a hundred feet away on a grassy pitch because he’s kicked a ball slightly wrongly (but better than I could), doesn’t mean I’m only angry at things which genuinely matter, as my old, battered Amstrad CPC 464 would attest if it still existed (it was taken away by the binmen in 1998, having been replaced with an equally-obsolete but working 6128).
I still remember the day in 1992 (probably 20th January) when I was playing my friend’s copy of Rick Dangerous 2 with an infinite lives cheat, and was stuck on one frustrating bit in the final level… the tape datacorder ended up with a big crack in it. This was one of those old computers where the electronic gubbins were inside the keyboard unit, and yet the thing kept on working… but the keyboard plate itself certainly needed straightening from about 1993 onwards. Indeed, by 1997 when I was at university (and was sexually frustrated on top of everything else), I needed bits of plastic glued into place to hold the keyboard plate up inside the casing…
But at least I got over 10 years of use from that contraption. In 1998, while I was in Michigan (not long after I blew my one chance for true love, so this was obviously in the downswing of my life), I was sweating in the unseasonable heat, getting more and more stressed trying to replace the internal power cable of my Psion Series 3a palmtop computer, which I’d owned for only three years. This device (admittedly vastly inferior to even a cheap smartphone today) had a known design flaw in that the cable worked itself out if the thing was opened and closed too often and made it think the batteries were flat even if they were brand new, and I’d asked my folks to send me a replacement cable across the Atlantic. My repairs didn’t work, and neither did a power adapter I’d bought at the mall (stupidly I’d bought a 3V one, thinking two AA batteries = 3V); in a moment of fury I pounded the LCD screen hard enough to make the black fluid leak out, perhaps not coincidentally looking rather like blood.
(I hope “good housemate” isn’t going to say this is typical of me, breaking a computer while trying to fix it; the occasions he’s thinking of are fitting a new hard drive in “female best friend’s” PC only to realise too late that the copy of WinXP I’d got for her didn’t have a key — so we had to get a proper, more expensive copy — and trying to make a Japanese female friend’s laptop’s DVD drive region-free, which fortunately only killed the drive itself, and meant I had to get her a new one!)
But worst of all, obviously, is violence against people (even if Dante had those who were “violent against others” less badly treated than “violent against self” and “violent against God, art and nature”). I’m not usually the sort who thinks with his fists, and at school walked away from “arranged” fights, completely uncaring as to whether the thugs called me a wimp or whatever. However, on other occasions I’ve struck out at people, and although mostly they’ve been boys of my own age who could respond in kind (and did), there was that one dark day in 1989…
It was late Spring or early Summer, I’m not sure (it might have been a week or so before a holiday, perhaps half-term?), but I’m almost certain it was a Thursday; it was late afternoon, and we were playing some game in PE, a weird hybrid of tennis and cricket. I’d had a very stressful day already (even though this was the year I had a very good teacher, the people in my class still upset me over stupid things), and when I got “out”, I hurled my bat/racket to the ground in a fit of pique. A girl, one of those who had previously pretended (somewhat hurtfully, I might add) to be in love with me, just happened to make a snarky comment about me being “moody”… I don’t remember what happened next, but the subsequent evidence indicated that I kicked her very hard in the shin before storming off.
I think the worst part wasn’t the berating of my classmates (who seemed more preoccupied with the belief that I’d “cried” about being in trouble than my stupid violence, and didn’t physically harm me in any way), but the fact that our teacher, a man I genuinely liked and respected, and who encouraged me to use my brain and my initiative, didn’t shout in anger at me (the way he shouted at another boy who used a word very similar to “bullocks” one day in class) or give me a detention, but just told me he was very disappointed and that he didn’t expect that kind of behaviour from me, before sending me away.
And just like today, with a wrecked £300 wardrobe and a house in disarray that’s left my mother feeling extremely down (though it’s just possible it can be salvaged — let’s see what Saturday brings), it’s a day I wish I could start again from the beginning. Though such has been my self-berating and regret over the years, there are an awful lot of days that fulfil this criteria, particularly regarding the aforementioned “lost chance” with the girl in Michigan. After all, the person I get most angry with is myself; I don’t self-harm, but sometimes I have just an inkling of why some people do…
The trouble is that I let things get to me. Oh, you’d noticed, from all the “grinds my gears” posts? Well, it’s part of the reason for my depression, and if I can drag this particular vampire screaming into the sunlight, hopefully it’ll explode in a puff of smoke and the world will be that little bit safer, and I’ll be a step closer to being the person I want to be, rather than the person who writes this drivel.
What can I do to change? Well, listening to Eminem helped considerably in the past (yes, he’s going to be the subject of a “cool things” post, possibly during the Easter weekend — I’ll have time, since I’m obviously not to be trusted doing any work around the house!), and Gwar seem to be taking on that role now, especially whenever the annoying woman starts up at work (thank $DEITY for noise-cancelling headphones, even if they don’t quite blot her out!). I hope it won’t get to anger management levels, like His Royal Shadyness himself. Just writing this has helped me bear my soul a little, and I hope you don’t all (all?) think less of me. I’m still the same person you knew before… except hopefully I’m not, but am instead a better person.
Finally, just to lighten the mood a bit — or maybe make you really angry — here’s something that has made my blood boil since I came to London: a sequence from the 1964 Doctor Who serial, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, in which the First Doctor’s history teacher companion Barbara, together with resistance fighter Jenny and crippled resistance leader Dortmun, make a nightmare journey across the deserted capital, avoiding Daleks at every turn. Even though it didn’t affect me when I lived in Worthing, somehow, since getting it on DVD a couple of years ago, it’s filled me with righteous anger to see the murderous cyborgs gliding arrogantly around what I now consider my home city…
(Go to 5m2s if it doesn’t go there automatically!)