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Lewis Black is one ticked-off dude. I recently watched his HBO special. His style is all about rant; he twitches on stage. He sets up brilliantly; he begins calmly enough with remarks about a news item or issue but then as his frustration grows over some idiocy or other, he begins to tremble, as if he’s got stage one Tourette’s syndrome. By the time he’s built up a righteous head of steam, he’s practically choking on his words. His face turns red, his eyes cross, his gestures grow stiff and choppy; he erupts right before us. He’s not for everyone. I happen to love his persona; he’s kind of dangerous.
Now I’m not considered dangerous by anyone. I am, by nature, a facilitator, a communicator. I want people to get along, find points of agreement, and stay calm. I hate it when people raise their voices. My father had temper tantrums – real doozies. Wonderful man, smart man, great dad, lousy temper.
And yet — I too feel like exploding at times. I do. There are so many things that make me crazy: ignorance, hypocrisy, cruelty to women, children and animals, over-paid know-nothings, off-key singing…aargh.
I’ve actually considered punching someone’s lights out, tearing his head off, throwing him (or her) through a plate-glass window, that sort of thing. When I was a kid, I’d hang out the passenger side of the car and pretend I had a huge chainsaw and was hacking down the elms we passed. Oops, did someone suddenly pop up next to that tree? Too bad – off with their heads. Hee, hee – I mean, yuck!
Really, though, these thoughts are so common among kids and probably some adults it’s a wonder we don’t all go bonkers. I’m not talking about a “kill or be killed” situation in which all animals would pretty much react the same way but rather an uncontrollable impulse to rage. There is presumably a civilizing section of our brains that prevents us from turning into monsters or murderers – except, of course, when there isn’t. Then you have a situation like Columbine or Virginia Tech.
Me, I try to breathe deeply, go to the gym, lay off the sugar (like THAT’S ever gonna happen), ease up on the wine (ditto there) and generally look on the bright side of things. But I wonder – is heredity destiny? Do I house an evil twin or an alien waiting to burst forth spewing verbal venom? Not that I’ll commit a terrible crime – not my style. But I could turn into that strange woman who flies off the handle and screams at the store clerk or the guy who decides to chase down the a-hole driver who cuts him off (although that’s just plain stupid, more a testosterone kind of thing – no offense, guys). As I grew older, I might get more crotchety and ill-tempered. After all, pain makes you cranky and pain increases as we get older, what with bladders and livers and fingers and knees conking out on us. The crankier we feel, the less people are likely to listen to us (unless we’re Lewis Black or Andy Rooney), which is likely to increase our crankiness because, damn it, I’ve been on this planet a long time and I know things and if you’d listen to me, you young whippersnapper, you mewling, sniveling, self-righteous, pampered, smart-ass, egotistical son of a…
Well, I’m getting ahead of myself. I have a whimsical side, which may prevail. Maybe I’ll revel in the accumulated wisdom of my years. Maybe I’ll become a yogi, or a Zen master and move somewhere where there’s less pressure – Costa Rica or Vermont. Maybe I’ll live inside my head. Or maybe I’ll just keep watching Lewis Black and blow off steam