Thursday, August 23, 2007

Anger And Other Useless Emotions


Yesterday I was finally getting my act together and taking a shower. Soap had been applied, etc.

The water stopped. I waited. Nothing.

Maybe all the two minute mysteries had sharpened my wits, but I remembered hearing some workman from the courtyard of my building earlier that day. I put two and two together. I wondered, briefly, if there was some kind of sign I had missed. My building, which is far from well-maintained, has been known to sport signs saying "No Water Today."

But when I went out five minutes later, there were no such signs. There was a guy who was part of the work crew. I asked him if he knew anything about the water outage. Yes, he said, they had turned it off.

I was pissed. I had been left mid-shower, with soap on my body. What the hell? I said that it would have been nice to have gotten some notice. He said it was an emergency. I said they could have still knocked on doors or something. He said he was sorry. I suspect that if seen in a mirror I would have been sporting a tight little smile, the smile of the wronged everywhere.

I got to watch other people ask them the same questions over the course of the next couple hours. One guy bounded down, asked pleasantly, asked when the water would be back on, thanked copiously, bounded back up. One guy asked what the fuck was going on and explained just how fucked up the situation was. That guy's the guy you can hear sometimes at 11 p.m. screaming at his family, I think.

Here's a second incident. There's a pool in the middle of the courtyard. A small pool, a not that nice pool. It's summer and it's been hot here. Anyway, the neighbor kids -- tweens with skateboards and a habit of yelping at each other -- have been using it. In the entirely admirable way of kids everywhere their idea is to stay in for hours, diving at each other and making fun of each other and shivering dramatically.

One day they were there forever with something like ten of their closest friends. The next day a sign went up -- "The pool is for the use of residents only." Maybe a week later the sign came down.

Anyway, I went down the other day to use the pool and two of them were in there. I didn't like them being in there, to be frank; I always want the pool to myself.

Every goddamn time they bumped against me, I looked them hard in the eye. I asked them to please stay out of my way. A lot of hard staring; a certain number of requests not to splash. I was in the grip of rage.

Look, there wasn't really any point to anger in either case. In the first case, there was nothing to be done -- the water was off, it would come back on shortly, nobody would get hurt. In the second case, I could probably have gotten the kids kicked out of the pool if I wanted to. Failing that they weren't trying to get in my way so there weren't a lot of places for any discussion to go.

But in each case I felt the need to demonstrate my displeasure. Not because it could produce any good result, not even because I was convinced of its righteousness. Just that it was mine, it was strongly felt, etc.

11 comments:

Octopus Grigori said...

Anger has its uses.

I'm wondering if C&C may have any anger to direct in this direction.

[Note: Shalit is yet another proud alum of Williams College, along with Fay Vincent, George Steinbrenner, and the famously ambidextrous Pres. James A. Garfield.]

Charlie said...

So did you solve your "I'm soapy" problem by jumping in the pool?

Charlie said...

Do you tend to get more angry at people when you aren't accompanied by a friend? Or are you exaggerating how angry you get? I ask because you never seem to get angry (at third parties) when I see you.

Captain Colossal said...

OG: I don't really know enough about Shalit to say anything interesting about her. The premise is pretty irritating, though. Esp. the "real rebels" part.

Charlie: Yes and sort of. I mean, with a friend I tend to be distracted from my anger at third parties. And I wasn't trying to suggest that I'm the Incredible Hulk or anything. But I think you've seen me do some vigorous arm-waving faced with drivers turning into a crosswalk that I'm in.

Noko Marie said...

I love that "Please Do Not Jump From Balcony" sign. In addition to all the great ambiguities, the "please" just knocks me out.

Mission Control said...

We really like the Please Do Not Jump From Balcony sign, too. We like how it appears to be a sign specifically designed for a situation that had probably ended badly (viz., teenager jumping from 12-foot high balcony into 4-foot deep pool). Or perhaps it would be funnier if this were a standard sign available at hardware stores all around L.A. "Yes, hi, we're looking for one of those 'Please Do Not Jump From Balcony' signs. Do you have one of those? Oh, behind the 'Please Do Not Drive Through Bay Window" signs? Thanks!"

Isn't it funny how soap can feel so clean and so dirty, depending on the context? We remember in high school sometimes we would have a bar of soap but no soap dish, so we would try to use the stupid cardboard soap box as a makeshift soap dish for as long as we could, but it was always a failure, and the fucking soap got everywhere. The fucking soap scum. And sometimes, we forgot our towels, too, or we'd be in a rush to catch our ride home and we wouldn't rinse or dry off properly and the soap would dry on me. The soap scum. What the fuck is that about? We lather up to get clean with soap, but outside of a shower or bath, soap on the body, drying, is nasty. Isn't that crazy? We think so.

Mission Control said...

Of course, we meant to say the soap would "dry on us".

Captain Colossal said...

As a very small child I was pretty fascinated by the last little pieces of soap after it had all been washed away, and would often try to hide them places.

Noko Marie said...

By the way, like Charlie, I too was expecting a jump-in-the-pool soap resolution. Maybe even a jump-off-the-baclony into the pool resolution.

Were you tempted?

Captain Colossal said...

I thought it would make me come off like a jerk if I said I jumped in the pool right afterwards.

I wasn't tempted to jump off the balcony because I'm a coward.

The Secretary said...

Girls gone mild.