Sometimes, people say things that can push our Seeing Red buttons so hard that their words crush the limit of our patience, obliterate our brain-to heart-to-mouth filters, and make even the most self-composed of us rage and curse until we are spitting fire. Many times, the seeing red button pushers do the deed without understanding what their words or actions have provoked. Most times, the ones being pushed to do the fire spitting don’t realize that no harm was meant until way after the flames of the outraged have been snuffed out.
1. I said to a friend, “For me, spending thousands for a wedding ring is stupid.” She went off on me in such a way that I could barely recognize her under the screaming. I was even called a name that rhymes with witch. Several times. The words arrogant, taste-dead, cheap and judgmental made it into the outburst, too.
We didn’t speak for a while. I called her a week later. When I feel that a fight affects someone I care about more than it affects me, I kick pride in the teeth and apologize even if it’s not my fault. Don’t get any ideas, my Wicked Luvs, once the issue is resolved, I make sure to point out to the friend that he or she acted like a dumbass.
Anyway, I told her that she was a tad deaf. She missed the fact that I started the sentence with “for me.” I don’t think that getting an expensive ring would be stupid for her. She really loves precious stones. I like stuff that speaks to me, even if it’s a chunk of sun-hardened dirt that a dog pissed on. On the other hand, I would probably sell a foot and three fingers if the money would get Benedict Cumberbatch to read the Harry Potter Series aloud to me. My friend laughed, and said, “Yeah, that would be stupid.” I wasn’t bothered by her comment. I don’t expect her to understand how a voice can make a story completely new for me.
2. The other day, a friend told me that she thought children with special needs needed their own learning space. They shouldn’t be integrated with the general student body. She believes that their inability to keep up—and teachers having to wait for them to catch up—would negatively affect the learning experience of the children who have no special needs.
I exploded. I was even crying on the phone. I think I said that teachers who feel that way are just lazy; that a society that puts a child in a box for twelve years and then “releases” him or her into a world he or she has never had the chance to interact with is worthless, unrealistic and damn selfish. The shock alone would set the child on a straight path towards failure… I went on and on. But my friend was patient. She apologized, tried to calm me down, and in the end we agreed to disagree and moved on.
It was unfair of me to go off on her in that way. She didn’t know that I have seen a child being put through this kind of situation, and when he was sent into the workforce as an adult he lost control of his emotions and of his life. She didn’t know that even now I’m seeing the children of two dear friends having to suffer through this nonsense, and that their lives are hell because of the way the school system (their teachers in particular) treats them.
3. Last week, after a friend posted a highly offensive end to Father’s Day meme, a holiday that according to her is oppressive to women, I said that “We don’t need to disgrace other people’s views, philosophies (or holidays!) in order to support our convictions.” Another friend said she agreed with the meme because Father’s Day was difficult on her and her family, since the ones they used to celebrate on that day have already left this world. All the in-your-face celebration made things harder on them.
A second friend said that having lost the ones who used to make Father’s Day special for her was no reason to try to take the joy away from others. If anything, said this friend, we should feel happy for the fact that there’s still love in the world. The friend who agreed with the meme replied with anger, justifications and insults. I was lucky enough to be on Facebook as the comment was published… I deleted it.
Her “anger, justification and insults” were clad in heartbreaking grief, so I sent her a private message. We exchanged emails for a few days. In one of the messages she said that she felt a bit silly for having issued the insults. She was just so upset with her situation and angry at what losing someone she loved to a terrible death was doing to her and her family. I told her that I understood. And that I’m sure that the person who left the comment had not aimed to hurt her, but was just sharing a self-truth.
Wondering why I’m sharing all this? Of course you are; I know the size of your curiosity is only rivaled by the magnitude of my narcissism. Worry not, my Wicked Luvs, for I shall spill the beans. The friend I mentioned in the first paragraph got married a few months ago. Last Sunday, she left me a rather… incensed message in my voicemail. Her words suggested that I was flaunting my to-be-married happiness in some kind of mean effort to tell her I told you so. She closed her pronouncement with: “…choke on all your red until you spit fire.” I loved the imagery in the words, hence the title.
The voicemail left me confused. I haven’t talked to this friend since she got married and moved to her husband’s native country. I phoned her to get some clarification, but she wouldn’t pick up. I called her mother to see if she had a different number to reach her. “[My daughter] hasn’t changed her number,” she said. “You should send her an email or leave her a message. After [son-in-law] asked for the annulment, she stop answering her phone. And she deleted her Facebook account.”
The mom said other things, but I can’t remember exactly what. My id was shouting too many questions, and my super-ego was screaming just as loud as it tried to tell my urges that it wasn’t proper to pump the mother for information. My ago sat back, letting her sisters pull each other’s hair. I left three messages for my friend. She hasn’t called back yet. I sent her a long email, too, but she hasn’t replied. I know she is in pain, so I decided to write this post and see if it will nudge her to crawl out of the hurt pit.
I’m not mad at her. I know we can say some pretty awful things when our perception is blurry enough to see everything in the world as an attack aimed at us. We’ve all been there (and by “we” I mean “me”). I’m here for her, if she wants to talk, scream or even write some not-so great poetry about the things, people and situations that leave us seeing red and spitting fire. And, yes, once all is well, I will be gentle when I remind her that right now she is acting like a royal dumbass. I hope she calls.
I went around the house and photographed every bit of red that jumped out at me. Then I huffed and puffed and huffed and puffed… Not even one fiery spark crossed my lips; life can be such a… (it rhymes with witch). And yes, the monkey looks creepy.