Five years ago, after hearing about a great sale at a nearby furniture store, we finally replaced our old sofas. We got two big recliners and an L-shaped loveseat. One of the recliners was for me, the other recliner and the loveseat would go in the living room to replace the sofa and loveseat that were as old as me. They weren’t exactly falling apart at the seams, but there was no support anymore so if you sat down too hard, your butt would thump against the insides of the couch and you felt like you’d hit the floor because it was so low. Watching my tall friends attempt to sit in them was always hilarious. Buying the furniture went without a problem, but there was a whole lot of fighting throughout the day of delivery.
My dad and I both have really short tempers, but also really short attention spans which is one aspect that helps us get over our anger pretty quick. One of the best pieces of advice my mother gave me as a child is never go to bed angry, either settle things or get over it. It’s pretty rare that either me or my father stays mad longer than a few hours at most. But when we get mad, we breathe fire. Especially at each other. When dad and I piss each other off, all you can really do is stay out of the line of fire and let us verbally battle each other to the death. The death of our anger, anyway. Something will be said that rubs the other person the wrong way and we’ll spit tacks, and a few minutes later we apologize and continue what we were doing.
“Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.” — Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Our biggest fault regarding our anger is getting so riled up that we can’t properly listen. For instance, when mom and I were talking to him about the furniture sale and how we’d found pieces we liked, mom mentioned she’d asked the salesman if they’d haul away the old couches and was told that’s not part of their services. Dad immediately became angry and ranted breathlessly about how for a $50 fee the guys can’t even take the old stuff out of the house, and where do they expect to put the new stuff. Mom was just trying to calm him down and get him to stop yelling, I yelled over him to get him to hush — something that can make us more angry, but it has to be done sometimes — long enough for me to say “We didn’t ask about them moving the couches to the driveway or the curb, all we’d asked was if they take the old furniture away.” Just like that, dad calms down and says “Oh! I thought you meant they said they won’t even help us move the old stuff out of the house to make room for the new stuff. Of course I don’t expect them to take it away, they’re not a dumping business!”
At one point, while I was helping mom frantically clean the room because the delivery men had shown up two hours before we’d expected them, dad sat in my recliner. He was convinced that that recliner should stay in the living room with the new sofa and I take the one we’d bought for him, because my recliner matches the new sofa better. See, the new sofa is a dark brown. My recliner is a couple shades lighter, and dad’s recliner is a light tan. On one hand, my recliner does match the couch a bit better, but the light color looks good next to it as well. Besides, on a more selfish note, they’re two different chairs and I like mine better. I took one look at my dad sitting in my chair and like a disgruntled Baby Bear, told my father in a demanding tone to “Get out of my recliner.” He looked at me with an expression of “Excuse you?” and didn’t budge. So I repeated myself. I can’t remember what was said next or even who spoke, but it turned into a five second screaming match. The yelling stopped and we were staring daggers at each other, poor mom was trying to be the peacemaker but we weren’t hearing it. I left the room, and not two seconds passed when dad followed me and started calmly brainstorming with me about how we were going to get my recliner where I wanted it as if he hadn’t just threatened to punch my face to the back of my head.
I don’t enjoy yelling or being mad at my father, but the adrenaline rush during a fight and then the almost audible whoosh of relief after the anger’s gone helps me realize what a great bond we share. I know my temper has ruined some past friendships and relationships, but I have plenty of friends who can handle it or have learned to give me my space until I’m over it. Those are the friendships that count, not the ones who assume I won’t get angry anymore because they’re in my life now. My anger is just part of who I am, and I suppose in a way it’s helped me weed out people who didn’t deserve to be in my life. And if nothing else, it’s given me some funny stories over the years from situations where I overreacted.