I don't have a big temper. I very very rarely yell. I don't throw things. I don't get in fights. "Turn the other cheek and talk shit about them later" tends to be more my style. It takes forever for me to get truly angry. I can be snippy at times, certainly, but as far as rage? No.
Except that, deep down inside me, I have a tiny pebble of white hot fury. It is a singularity of rage and intensity. A point of malice and intent and blind pure rage.
I don't know where it came from. I think I grew it as a child, some how. I hated fighting and yelling and load noises. My mom had to cover my ears in public bathrooms because I hated the scream of a flushing toilet. So I think, like Superman crushing coal into a diamond in Superman III, I took the anger and fear and pain that most people let out in tiny bits and compacted it into a solid object deep in my chest.
It rarely came out... but when it did, it was a complete transformation over me. After being picked out one too many times in middle school I snapped and flew into a berserk whiling dervish of flailing arms and teeth, shocking everyone around me. Later I was told the hippy teachers at the school held back from breaking it up because at first they couldn't process what was happening and then they thought, "Well, about time."
A few years later I was play the classy named Smear the Queer during lunch at junior high. (For those who don't know, Smear the Queer is a ball game where you tackle you ever has the ball. I believe that is the only rule.) I was fine with the rough housing and enjoyed the excitement of it. At one point I was tackled and had the wind knocked out of me. Lying on the ground, unable to move because I could quite breathe, I held no malice to any one. Just part of the game. But then the boy who hit me just laughed and said something callous. (I forget what.) Even to this pain, one way to quickly make me angry is to minimize my pain. I don't fully remember what happened next. Without ever getting my breathe back, I was immediately up on my feet. My friend Josh, who had been at my previous moment of rage, apparently took three steps back and said, "Oh, you don't want to be near this." I was on my attacker in a second, nothing in my head and eyes but hate.
In both cases I cause little or no damage because I was (1) weak and a small and (2) my blows weren't directed. Thank god for small favors.
Since then I have learned to harness it and control it. It never comes out blindly. It is still there and can be called on at a moments notice, as easy as switching on a light. But I know that it is a side of me no one ever sees and it goes against everything how most people see me. I can use it to great effect when I need it. I have used it to stop people doing dangerous behavior (drunks on roof tops, suicidal thoughts/actions, etc). I have broken up bar fights with it. I have used it once in a relationship during a fight/argument that was going in circles, neither of us listening. (That fight was probably the turning point to the end of the relationship and, me switching into that mode for just a second, probably got us to pay attention to each other long enough that we were able to end it without destroying ourselves.) I use it extremely sparingly. It is no longer blind. It is a totally conscious choice. It is no longer a flurry of violence but it is pure anger and rage in my face and eyes and voice. It channels through my arms into my hand and fingers. It is all intent. Whether believable or not it is the "I will do you violence" voice. Pure malice.
There are usually three possible reactions to witnessing this mode. Paralyzed fear. Uncomfortable laughter. Crying. Afterward I usually have to deal with a few weeks of people being scared of me. I don't thing actual fear of physical violence, just fear that they don't know what to expect of me any more. I can't say that I hate that.
I haven't used it in three years. No need. Last night, because I was over sleepy and not thinking straight, I used it as a "bit." I used it in jest. I honestly don't know why. Part of my brain just said, "Hey, this person is ignoring what I am saying. I don't really care, but I wonder what will happen if tap into the pebble." I honestly forgot what sort of response it causes. Luckily it was just uncomfortable laughter.
I apologize to those who were there and specifically to the person it was directed at. It was mean and thoughtless and totally ill considered.
I had forgotten what it felt like to do. I so want to use it on stage now. I wonder what the response would be.
Russia's The Dead Hand
8 years ago