Channeling Andy Sipowicz
People like blood. Maybe it’s the times. I read somewhere that mano-a-mano sports are more popular in times of economic recession. Every man is for himself, duking it out at work and with his checkbook, so that’s what we like to see when we, um, relax. I notice I get a lot more likes on this blog when I tear someone a new asshole. It’s true. I have the dubious talent of being able to tear new assholes with great style. For awhile I considered marketing it. You know, like “Rent-a-Thug,” except in writing. Hard to do for something I’m not passionate about, but as long as I can find a thread of greater good in there, I could probably deliver. I don’t know what effect it would have on my karma. I certainly wouldn’t want to get one of my letters.
But people like that behavior everywhere they see it. It’s probably why Dr. Laura was so popular. Not because she had any great wisdom, but because people were absolutely bloodied by conversations with her, & I have to admit, I listened in once in awhile because occasionally she did this to the right person. Judge Judy. All of them. It’s like going to a hockey game.
So pissed off about so many things am I that I thought about taking meds to fix it. Right after I considered making a living off it. Then I thought No, just like the woman with 17-stone legs or the artist with Tourette’s (I suppose it can be argued that everything every artist does is just a tic), anger is what makes deenibeeni deenibeeni. There has to be someone to yank the world out of its Ikea complacency. How boring would the world be if everything were hunky-dory & there were nothing to bitch about.
I’ve had it all my life. That anger. My first clear memory of it was being in my sister’s car when I was 3 (many clear memories of that age and younger). We were on our way to the drive-in to see some sword & sandals movie, which we did a lot of. I would go with her to the snack bar in my jammies & we would play frisbee with the the pizza plate. I was trying to explain how a certain song that was popular at the time (“killed on a motorcycle” ditty about someone named Johnny) made me think of, I don’t know, Jason & the Argonauts. She didn’t understand what I was saying (I don’t either at the moment, but at the time it made perfect sense) and I became enraged. At not being understood. This has become a running theme, and knowing the first instance of it hasn’t helped me figure out why I’m like that. I mean, people pay a lot of money for hypnosis or analysis or whatever, ostensibly because remembering an occasion like that will unlock your psyche in some deep way, but it never has for me. I guess I saved a lot of money, but in the end it was just another instance.
I do love Andy S. Just for a day I’d like to be able to do what I do in writing, in person, call some idiot a fucking mouth-breather. I don’t think I think that fast on my feet, though. I need lots of rewrites, during which I hone every sentence to draw maximum blood.
There’s a moment when you feel yourself crossing a line. It’s an actual physical feeling, what I call The Chill of Self-Betrayal, suddenly I feel cold & tight around my solar plexus. I don’t do it too often, but it’s something that runs in my family. One of my sisters could do it anytime, anywhere, to anyone. Reach into your psyche and pull out the thing that was holding up everything else and rub your face in it. Really deadly. She’d have these screaming rages where nothing was off-limits. I drove around with a 2-foot piece of pipe in my car, she was that scary. The last time I saw her she was sitting on a gurney in an ER with carbon all over her face, she had stolen my mom’s pain meds, swallowed most of them and rear-ended a cop car in the little Honda she had stolen from my other sister. You laugh, but welcome to my family of gesticulating Mediterraneans. Anyway. Man. One Thanksgiving after I started carrying the pipe my mother decided she just wasn’t going to be happy unless all 3 of us girls had dinner together. I remember watching my crazy sister while she did this strange little explosive dance all by herself in the dining room, unaware I was watching. That little performance became the inspiration for a presentation I gave to my Abnormal Psych class on bipolar disorder.
So it’s in my genes, in my jeans, in my spleen, whatever.
Anyway. Where was I. Oh yeah, crossing the line. I did it to my ex on a regular basis, but we did it to each other. Somehow the line got fainter & fainter & pretty soon it was godawful kitchen sink, & we even smacked each other a few times. He died now, you can imagine the mixed feelings–and they were mixed. Other than the fact that he was a brutalizing wack job, he was an incredibly loyal person. But pushing down the Chill of Self-Betrayal. Overriding it. If you do it often enough, it doesn’t prevent you from doing anything; just sits there, limp & inert & pathetic, like most people’s consciences.
Other people are spared this most of the time, but if it sings to me while I’m writing, gives the perfect shine to an otherwise dull ass-reaming, it’s in.