Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I am the worst person I know

I have been known to refer to myself as the worst person I know. Part of that is self-effacing humor but honestly, at the heart of the matter, it's an affirmation and a source of comfort to me. See, if I'm the worst person I know and I'm not out committing rape or robbery or genocide or other attrocities against people, and I've surrounded myself with people who are that much better than I am, I sleep a little better at night. Horrible people doing horrible things are out there but as far as I know, they're strangers far, far away, at least in a relative sense. That doesn't solve any of the world's problems but it helps me confine them in a small box and keeps them psychollogically manageable. Maybe I'm fooling myself but it seems to work so I'm not going to screw with it.

A little behind-the-scenes glimpse: more often than not, the stuff I post here is written days (sometimes weeks, when I'm on a super productive streak) in advance. What you're reading right now was written yesterday (January 14). However, Monday's entry was actually written on the fly. What's ironic about that is that during the exact time that I was putting it together, yet another semi-angry/semi-resigned screed about being frustrated by the behavior of stupid and inconsiderate people, a man was shooting two people in a nearby (21.5 miles to be exact) movie theater, killing a man and wounding his wife, in a stupid fight over the victim's inconsiderate use of a cell phone in the theater. Just like that, one life ends and three others are altered forever, over something that at it's worst, was rude and a pain in the ass. As I was writing, obviously unaware that any of this was happening less than a half hour's drive away, I was having trouble deciding whether or not to use a joke, an offhand and flippant reference to praying for the painful deaths of those who annoy me. I thought the piece needed more jokes but ultimately decided not to use it, only because I decided it didn't work because it just wasn't very funny. I mean mechanically, not in terms of whether or not it was "appropriate". It's entirely possible that I was making that decision at the exact moment the shooting was taking place. This isn't about what is or is not acceptable to be presented as humorous (if the joke had been funnier, I'd have used it), it's about how far... or how close... I am from snapping at that level.
When I'm me at my best, I can't even imagine getting THAT angry over something THAT silly. The idea that not only should someone pay for their lack of consideration with their life but that I should be the one to render that punishment? It is utterly impossible for me to relate to that.
However, I'm not always at my best. A few years ago, I was out running errands with my dog Barkley.

This is what pure happiness looks like: Barkley, taking a ride.
She was my favorite pet of all time and I still absolutely ache over how much I miss her. She was 100% pure goodness and a true source of joy in my life. She was also a daddy's girl and nothing made her happier than just spending time with me. So we're out running errands and some ass, an old man, pulls out in front of us, causing me to swerve drastically into another lane. I caught up to him at the light and yelled at him through the passenger side window. He yells back, telling me to go fuck myself. I lost my shit. The light turned green and I started chasing him. We got off the main road and were racing through a neighborhood, squealing tires and all kinds of unsafe driving. I didn't even know what I would do to the old man when I caught him but I knew it would be really, really bad. I was going to punish his ass, right in front of his wife or whoever the old bag riding with him was. I don't know why but I happened to look at Barkley and saw that she was terrified. She was sitting there, being a perfectly good girl, because that's what she was at her very essence, but the look in her eyes was unmistakeable. She was confused and something that she loved, taking a ride, was now a scary ordeal because of me, somebody she loved. My heart instantly broke into a million pieces and I stopped chasing the old man immediately. I pulled over as he drove on and sat on the side of the road for about 10 minutes, petting Barkley and apologizing to her, but mostly trying to comfort me. I have never felt like more of a failure than at that moment. After all, she was just a dog and the only things she could offer me were her love and trust and I had betrayed both over... what? Some jerk who I allowed to make make me angry? What if I'd gotten her hurt? For that matter, what if I'd caught the old man and hurt him or his wife? Pathetic. Of course, she recovered fully and quickly because, again, she was a dog and made of pure goodness but the idea that I had caused her even slight anxiety because I lost control of my emotions just destroyed me. I don't know if that was my first big step in the softened-up softie I'm (d)evolving into today, but I haven't had a similar incident since and it still hurts when I think about it, so yeah, probably.
The whole point is that I'm the worst person I know and I'm pretty much okay with that.

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