I'm not sure what possessed me to say yes when my friend Becky asked me to go to a concert last night. It was two hours from my house. And I was already exhausted. I'd played late on Friday and was in Philadelphia/Cherry Hill all day Saturday for work... "Just cancel, Kelly!" Dave is always so black and white about these things. It just wasn't that easy -I don't see Becky that often, The reason for that is that I have a habit of cancelling on her a lot. Also, this band is one of her favorites. She's seen them eight times - and can get lost in their music, much like I can get lost in Bruce Cockburn's... Cancelling might be like a big musical insult. To make matters worse, two other people already beat me to the punch and cancelled. So the guilt associated with cancelling somehow beat out my overwhelming desire to cancel.
The reasons I SHOULD have cancelled: Beck called me last week and said, "Um, you can ride back with some people you don't know because I'm staying in Lancaster to see another show on Sunday." Ugh. This night was shaping up oh-so-nicely!
The point of all this is that I wasn't excited about going to the show - it was a band I didn't know very well. I was with people I didn't know very well. AND - there were TWO opening acts - AND a good half hour wait between acts. I was nodding, so I told Becky and entourage I was going to walk around for awhile.
While out walking, I must've been a real sight - because some stranger at the bar stopped me and told me it couldn't be THAT bad. I explained that my band had played the night before and I had been on the road all day and wasn't sure why I agreed to come... but I wasn't really in a bad mood, I was just really tired. The stranger offered to buy me caffein. I said thank you. Then something odd happened. Out of the sheer blue unknown, He asked me if I had children.
"No. I don't," I replied. He then asked how old I was "Thirty-four." I was feeling a little weird by now. Doesn't everyone know not to ask a lady her age - particulary a really really tired one? "Man," said the stranger. "You shoulda had kids a lot earlier. That way you wouldn't be so old when they grow up..."
I rememberd something a social worker once told me: At moments like this, humans experience two different types of anger, Flash and Chosen. Flash anger is that involuntary feeling of rage we experience right after an incident happens... Like right after your grandmother tells you your "loo-loo" is getting large, or right after you realize you've been stepped on by a horse, or the moment some jerk cuts you off on the Schuylkill Expressway - or you've someone at work borrowed your camera cable and didn't return it (again). Flash anger lasts from 5- to 10-seconds. That's it. That's the body's gut-level response to negative stimuli.
After ten seconds, chosen anger takes over. If we remain in a state of rage, it's because we've chosen to remain in a state of rage. If rage isn't on the menu, one may instead choose to take a deep breath, count to ten, or do whatever it takes to gain perspective.
I hate having this kind of knowledge because it makes me accountable. But since it's true, I have to go with it.
I let the comment pass - in the words of sage Obi-Wan Kenobi, "This little one wasn't worth it." Even though I felt this man's opinion, freely given at the Chameleon Club that night was incredibly ill-timed, and given without knowledge of my past, I just smiled. I took a long sip of the caffein he so generously bought me, and said, "Well, you may be right, but it didn't seem to work out that way."
It was a good decision. I didn't take me long to realize that this man wasn't being intentionally rude. He simply had no cortical inhibition! (I asked a doctor friend of mine about the clinical term for someone who speaks without thinking... "Oh," he told me, "That's Cortical Inhibition...")
Before this gentleman at the bar even knew my name, I knew all about his ex-wife, her third husband, and his two children. "My daughter wanted to live with me because she didn't like the things her mom was doing. Me? I only get a little rowdy on the weekends, and why not? My kids are with their mom! In fact, I go through about a case of Coors Light a week, but that's okay, because it only costs about twenty bucks. That's two hours of work for me. I can afford that...."
While wondering if Coors Light came in flash and chosen varieties, I thanked the stranger for the Coke and went back to Becky, who, at the time, was choosing band-induced hypnosis...