Wednesday, July 04, 2007

30. Anger: Tempest or a time bomb?

Mario had quite an outburst on Father’s Day. Not at me or his son, who’d come over for dinner. But at an inanimate object: his air conditioner. Or was it the hardware stores that weren’t open for the part he needed? Or himself, for not being able to fix the thing as heat shimmied outside into the 80s? Or the expectation – evaporated – that Father’s Day would be a kinder, gentler day.

Mario and I have now been together longer than Gregory and I were. It hardly seems possible. But I guess that’s the consequence of time flying as you get older, whether you’re having fun or not. We do have a lot of fun, but so also are we revealing more of our true selves.

Mario’s outbursts don’t have the sting of Gregory’s, although they do annihilate any sense of order the evening might have had. Dinner goes to hell. The evening goes to hell. Mario must scurry to fix, curse the screwdriver, yell for others to make calls to find parts. Locating the right part brings some relief, but then frustration wells up again as he still can’t get the thing working. At length, he reaches a sort of exhaustion before he surrenders and gives up, leaving those around him likewise spent.

But I wonder which is worse: the outburst you see or the outburst you don’t? Gregory’s outbursts in the beginning of our relationship would include scathing attacks on something or somebody – a white-hot tirade, a poison rant.

He learned quickly not to turn these on me. It was simple: I told him I could not keep my heart open if it were the object of senseless marauding. But did I achieve some improvement in his character? Or did I just reinforce the message that it’s better to hold certain feelings inside, where, like IEDs, they explode and do irreparable damage?

I’ve never had the sense that Mario and I would wake up some morning and he would reveal some startling, hidden aspect of his life: He had a love child in Sicily. He was really a spy. Someone had shot him during a robbery.

The latter actually happened to Gregory. He told me about it when I noticed his scar. Did I say noticed? You could not miss the jagged line that wound around his ribcage on the left side from the front to the back. He had been shot at near-point-blank range. He was standing behind the counter of the liquor store he and his mother owned. Gregory slid down the wall, coming to a stop on his bottom and sort of hunching over. That probably helped staunch the bleeding. The bullet had pierced his liver.

Now you would think that when someone shares a traumatic episode, they would share everything that happened. But this was not the case. Gregory omitted crucial details. Details! It’s as if he told me only half the story. When, I wondered after he died, was he intending to tell me the rest? When was he going to open that compartment all the way for me to see?

As it turned out, the answer was never. Maybe it was too painful. Maybe he was ashamed he could not have done more. Maybe it was his way of armoring the bottom of the vehicle. I would find out the rest of the story from his second wife after he died.

Image by Vladimir Kush


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