Not only do I have to take in the context of a discussion and come up with the appropriate argument or riposte or response, but I also to have to manage to get it out before the stammer I alluded to in Pressure: Grace kicks in. My mechanisms to cope with the stammer, when it attacks me, are to SPEAK – WITH – SPACES – BETWEEN – THE – WORDS, or to spit out sentences as fast as I can before my tongue ceases to function and sticks on a word like the needle on vinyl record. Or just withdraw from the conversation. Sometimes, that’s all I can do, because I am aware that the staccato delivery and the speed speech sound aggressive, and trying to respond will get me nowhere.
In this context, I do get very irritated when people who know me interrupt my struggle to communicate with comments like “calm down”, or “there is no need for that attitude”, or accuse me of losing my temper. When I was younger, such misreading from somebody who claimed to know me would have been the very trigger that would set off the human equivalent of a volcanic eruption. I was a proper little tyke, capable of volume that could send a decibel meter into the red zone, and of throwing items that a respectable weight lifter would balk at. So yes, when provoked, I have a very bad temper.
As a teenager, I was a little better. However, communication issues were not the only thing that lit my fuse. There was that one occasion when my then boyfriend confessed (under much duress from my jealous self) to an infidelity. The result of this was his Yamaha RD350b motorbike was shoved off its stand and half-way across the road under an oncoming truck. This was not one of those lightweight jobs you get these days, it was a good old durable early 1970’s chunk of metal and chrome. Expensive for him, quite satisfying for me. Some years later, a similar scenario occurred, with a different boyfriend (you may understand that disloyalty and infidelity don’t sit well with me). This time, his Fender Telecaster bounced off his head on the way through a picture window, swiftly followed by his Korg synth and other random musical accessories, while I ordered him out of the house, pronto. Permanently. I believe he understood my deep displeasure. The following day I was embarrassed by the broken window, because it was attached to my house, but to this day I remain unrepentant about the mayhem I visited on his head, his ribs and his possessions. Funny thing, after the outburst, there was a huge sense of relief and I have never felt the need to engage in such a display since then.
It’s been over twenty years since I channelled David Banner’s big green alter ego, it’s as though that epic outburst of musical destruction burned out the possibility of all future tantrums. Probably because small kids and animals don’t make arbitrary judgements about my mood or state of mind when I have trouble expressing myself, I have endless patience with them, and can take just about anything they dish out with equanimity. As for the understanding-free adults who can’t cope with a speech impediment, I comfort myself by quoting Mr Banner – “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”.