The Grilled Cheese

Laughing always helps. Over the years it’s proven itself to be the best way to diffuse my bouts of atomic anger. I wouldn’t characterize myself as an angry person in general. I think I just got gypped on patience the day that it was being handed out amongst the newborns. Got heaps of stubborn and disrespectful though. Oh yes, lots of those.

But back to patience. My temper has always been the result of my significant lack of patience. Not from some inherently angry demon troll that lives within. Nothing crazy like that. But I was that kid that would erupt in rage, seemingly out of nowhere, to the horror of my family and many bewildered onlookers alike. That is, if we happened to be in public when the very last imperceptible vestiges of my patience had waned. And by waned I mean instantaneously depleted the second something fucking stupid happened.

Yeah, I was that kid. I’m sure my mom got plenty of those glances anytime I went off in public. You know, the “wow, your kid’s got mental problems” glances. She probably got lots of disbelieving eye-rolls too. I’m sure she did, how could she not? Don’t you roll your eyes at the screeching red-faced little brat in the supermarket that just won’t take no for answer when mommy tells him he can’t have a candy bar? Yeah me too, what a freak that kid is!

If we were at home though, I had the luxury of relative privacy when going all berserk on whatever had incited my rage that day. If a toy wasn’t working it would be hurled furiously across the room before an attempt to investigate the root of its malfunction had crossed my mind. If my sisters were pissing me off, I would hurl myself furiously across the room in an attempt to bash and claw their jerkiness out of them. When a crayon dared to step out of line, threatening to ruin another would-be masterpiece of colouring excellence, the colouring book page was viciously torn to shreds.

But just as suddenly as my rage would ignite, it would extinguish too. I’d scamper over to that toy I’d hurled in haste, pick it back up and treat it more kindly. My sisters and I would decide that teaming up and using our combined jerkish wiles to terrorize the neighbourhood kids made more sense. Underneath the ripped out page an even better page would appear, with much more masterpiece potential than the previous one had. I’d erupt and cool down almost simultaneously.

During those intense throes of eruption, it was like I would momentarily leave my body. It was like sanity had stepped out for its regularly scheduled break. I would step outside of myself, silently observing as my physical being proceeded to freak the fuck out over something usually quite trivial. Then the realization of how ridiculously I was behaving would strike, and I’d laugh myself back to reality.

eggo

I vividly remember one time just going apeshit, and savagely beating the life out of an Eggo waffle because I’d gone to the tremendous effort of toasting it a beautiful golden shade of brown, only to find out after the fact that we were out of syrup. That’s an astonishingly shameful true story. It haunts my dreams, for reals. Then I laughed it off two minutes later when I noticed a new jar of strawberry jam in the cupboard. I could just dip the massacred bits of Eggo into that, and it would all be okay. As long as my mom didn’t see, of course.

As I got older, I learned to control myself. I had tantrums less and less. I learned the joys of shoving everything that ever bothered me deep down inside myself and internalizing it for all eternity. When stupid shit pisses you off, just breathe deeply and seethe. Sometimes I still have an outburst, but it’s usually only brought on by things that really warrant it. Like when bitchy cashiers close their checkout lane and tell me to move to the next one after I’ve already unloaded half of my shopping cart onto the conveyor belt. Yeah, I’m talking about you way-too-skinny-and-unnaturally-tanned clerk at Loblaws. Or annoying morons talking way too loudly on their cell phones in the morning on a crowded train. Guess what, I don’t give a shit what happened at the party on Friday or what you’re baking for the holidays, just shut the fuck up and have your conversation somewhere out of my earshot.

As a recovering Tantrum-aholic, I’m pretty good at spotting the warning signs in others. I’m perceptive. I can sense when someone is on the brink of a complete meltdown. Like D, on Sunday.

We didn’t have the energy for cooking anything too complex on Sunday, so we opted for soup and grilled-cheese sandwiches. A simple, satisfying staple. D does the bulk of the cooking, mostly because he’s good at it and I don’t want to. But for some reason, he has problems with grilled-cheese. He’s burnt quite a few of them in his time, burning as the result of negligence. For some reason he just gets negligent around grilled-cheese. Maybe he thinks it’s too easy and just switches his brain off, I don’t know.

He was in the kitchen making dinner and I was watching T.V. I got up to get a glass of water and I glanced at the frying pan. There was an unusual amount of smoke coming up from the sandwiches.

“I think they’re burning”, I mentioned casually.

I looked up at him and his jaw was tense. His brow had creased, and he was sporting a formidable frown. I reached for a flipper, and he grabbed the pan off the stove at the same time. He drew in a steady, menacing breath as I manoeuvred the flipper under the first sandwich. “They better not be fucking burnt” he growled. I looked up at him as I flipped the sandwich, and offered a pre-emptive “it’s okay” to soothe the fury that was brewing within him.

I could see the sandwich as it started to turn, and sure enough every inch of it was pitch black. I looked at D gently, beseeching him to accept it and let it go. But it was too late.

“GODDAMIT! I FUCKING KNEW IT! THIS IS SUCH BULLSHIT!!!!”

D is quiet and collected by nature, so a freakout of this magnitude from him is quite rare. Still clutching the frying pan he dashed towards the kitchen door, his intentions were clear. I knew that if I didn’t stop him those sandwiches were on a one-way trip down 24 stories to the visitor parking lot. I jumped in front of him, blocking the way.

“It’s alright, we’ll make new ones! It’s okay”, I pleaded. He glared back at me, still furious. I smiled. “Imagine that poor person who walks out to their car and finds two grilled-cheese sandwiches on the windshield” I said.

He hinted at a smile. “One side all burnt to shit and the other still raw. Think of how ridiculous that would be if it was your car”, I continued. He considered, rolling the image around in his mind. Then, when the realization of how extreme his reaction to a couple of burnt sandwiches had been D laughed and so did I. It would be ridiculous. To find two sandwiches in such a way on your car. You’d be able to deduce exactly what had happened too. You’d see the burnt disgusting side, and you’d just know.

My heightened tantrum-sensing abilities had kicked in just in time. I was annoyed that the sandwiches had burnt too, that was my dinner after all. But diffusing D’s tantrum just took precedence. Laughter saved the day, it always does.

Having given in to many a temper tantrum in my day, I always appreciated it when others who’d borne witness just shrugged it off and acted casual, like I hadn’t just beat the living shit out of a breakfast pastry. It was outrageous behaviour yes, but understanding helped. Catching that slight, affectionate twinkle in my mom’s eye after I’d settled down made me feel better. I knew she’d get on the horn and laugh about it with my nana later that day. But that was okay, laughing about it made it better.

And I’d sensed that D needed the same thing. He needed to freak the fuck out and have me not make a big deal about it. I stopped him from doing something completely absurd, like chucking the sandwiches off of our balcony. But I also let him shout it out and helped him laugh it off.

We ate the burnt sandwiches anyways, and laughed our way through every bite.

Tripped on a Bike

I know that we’re here to celebrate exemplary little moments of the day-to-day, and the title of this post may not seem very inspiring but I assure you this was the greatest moment of my week by a long shot.

This past week has been one of those black holes of bullshit kind. You know the one, you’ve had them before. The week where every “Worst Case Scenario” comes true. The one that ruthlessly rapes your will to live again and again. The kind of week that makes you want to fling yourself from your balcony, even though you only live on the second floor and at best would sustain a minor head injury or ankle sprain. Yes, it was one of those weeks…

I started feeling like a zombie by the end of it. Not just feel like a zombie, but I think I went through the stages too. I got infected by the virus, but denied it and thought I’d bravely carry on. Then I succumbed to the maddening fever, and eventually faded away into the bloody grey un-dead oblivion of emotionlessness. The numbness had officially set in by the end of the week.

All that kept me hanging on was the thought of Friday night. Sweet, sweet Friday night. Friday night will go one of two ways for me now: extreme couch-potatoing or getting back to my roots by seeing how much beer I can chug before I barf in someone’s mailbox. This week I was really looking forward to the couch-potato option. I just wanted to put on my eight dollar Wal-Mart sweats, consume a metric ton of Doritos (Zesty Cheese, Score!), and only move from the couch when 100% necessary.

Friday afternoon on my way home is when the incident occurred. I got out of work, plugged in to my iPod hoping some sweet jams would make me feel human again, and hopped on the bus. A short while later I was feeling alright. I survived this hellish week and my tunes were kicking in. I strolled up to my building, walked through the door, and headed for the mailbox. I grabbed my mail, which by the way counts as mail even if it’s only coupons for burger king, and turned down the hallway to the stairs.

I should mention that the main floor of my building is rife with children. Unsupervised little assholes that run around screaming at the top of their lungs all hours of the day. Friday was a rare exception. There was nary a rascal in sight. They usually leave their shit all over the halls too. Case in point, the bike.

A fucking pink, purple, and green two-wheeler with training wheels was left right in front of the corner I turn down to get to the stairs. And here I was just enjoying some choice tunes while fantasizing about the plans I had for my newly acquired burger king coupons. Needless to say, I was in my own little world. I know I should have expected it because these asshole kids are always leaving their bikes around the building, but truth be told my keen ninja senses weren’t what they usually are.

As I turned the corner to the hallway I stepped on one of the training wheels which smashed the bike into my shin. I tried shifting my weight to gain my balance but I ended up toppling head first over the bike. I did make one last ditch effort to grab the walls for support, but they were out of reach and I wound up frantically clawing at the air. As I did so, the coupons went flying and I did a truly spectacular crumple into the ground. The bike was caught on my pants and on my way down the seat jabbed into my ribs knocking my breath from me.

I lay there gasping for air like a fish out of water for a moment or two. I raised my head off the ground and scanned the hallway to see if anyone was around. Thankfully I was alone. I was raving mad about the bike, and I could feel an angry snarl building in my throat. When I finally regained my breath I promptly erupted in laughter. My nasty snarl gave way to whooping waves of laughter at the thought of how ridiculous I must look. I didn’t have the energy to get up just yet, all I could do was lay there and laugh like a maniac.

I barely managed to get to my feet and gather my composure before the rotund woman living in the apartment across the hall came out shrieking “Watchoo doin’ out der girl? I gotta sleepin’ baby in here!” Although she was apparently deaf to the perpetual war-cries emanating from her 4 beastly children on the daily, she felt that I was making a real ruckus out in the hallway.

I smothered another hearty snicker in my coat-sleeve, grabbed my coupons, and bolted for the stairs.

I had forgotten what laughter felt like. My week was so grim, that I forgot about laughing, which is usually one of my favourite things. I just barely clung to my sanity this week. My main goal was to get home and cry into some empty calories. But damned if that bike wasn’t a wonderful blessing in disguise. I just let it all go.

I let the bad vibes wash away and laughed with abandon at what a magnificent sight my tumble would have been for an onlooker. It revitalized me, and brought me back to reality. I had been so wrapped up in my own troubles, I literally did not account for the world still thriving around me. I felt like myself again.

My ribs hurt like hell the next day, but I suspect that had more to do with the laughing than the bike.