Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Terrible Rage

I'm going to tell you something about myself. I have lots of rage. Lots of rage.

It appears that being a middle-aged man, single with no prospects, living with his 104-year-old grandmother is not all it's cracked up to be. I've always had a pretty good rein on my moods, I've felt, but lately I've noticed that I've been losing it a lot more. It starts with just a little heat in my forehead. Then it circles around in my head, meeting itself coming and going. Next thing I know blood vessels are popping out, my blood is boiling, my head is on fire, and I could take off your hand with just a nibble.

Right this minute things are going OK. That is, I'm reflective, able to see things in pretty good perspective. But that's not the way it always is, unfortunately. Just today I had what could almost be described as kaleidoscopic rage. My head is on fire again, and it's like I'm lost in a fever. It's like I'm in the heart of darkness. It's like I'm in an endless swamp, feeling dizzy from the oppressive muck my feet are stuck in, and the low hanging vines are entangling me. And that's just when I'm miffed. It gets much worse as the anger, the fury, the rage builds and builds, replicates itself, then feeds on itself. If a frown is a 1, I'm in full Godzilla mode by the time I get to a 5. I don't know that I've ever seen a 10 yet, but I can imagine what it'd be: full Godzilla mode with a Terminator twist, peppered with a dash of McCain.

What triggers my rage? Well, of course there's road rage. That's a given. Grocery checkout line rage. I'm especially bad at the express lane; if I see someone with just one item over 10, I go ballistic. Gas station rage, not just the prices but how slow the pump goes or if the receipt printer jams. And since you all know that I tend to swing Democratic, I have Republican rage. Any nationally known Republican sets me off. I used to have Rumsfeld rage, but that goes without saying. If a dog poops in my yard, I'm enraged. Our neighbors, the Swishers, set me off, as I've said before. That's a family trait. Grandpa always had Swisher rage, manifesting itself in enough F bombs to take out Pakistan. And beyond that, I have TV rage. Grandma rage. Internet rage. Chatroom rage. If I see couples dating rage. Rage at Billy Mays. Printer cartridge rage. Pipes leaking rage. Freezer burn rage. Lake algae rage. Greasy pepperoni rage. Garage sale dickering rage. Dead batteries rage. Pimple rage. Body odor rage.

So what do I do when I feel this rage welling up and spilling over? It's tough, but I repeat the Golden Rule; you know, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I repeat it over and over, then I start calming down. But because my rage is so multidimensional, even universal, I need more than that, so I have memorized the Golden Rule of other cultures and religions.

These include the one from Nigeria: "One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts." I don't actually have bird rage; that's one I don't have, but obviously they have lots of bird rage in Nigeria. Shintoism has this: "The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form." The trouble with me is when I'm enraged, it's like looking at a badly broken mirror, and every cracked person I see just brings out more rage. And one more: From Hinduism, "This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you." You know, the Hindus all have about 12 arms each, so they're able to cause a lot of pain, especially, let's say, if they had a knife in each hand! So that's great counsel for them!

I must have 18-20 different ones memorized. It takes a lot of effort to memorize things, and you know what that causes: Right! Memorization rage, what every kid in elementary school has! Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone!

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