Friday, August 3, 2018

My First Triggering

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

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Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My beautiful muse and back scratcher 
Iggy -- My designated Sticky
Dana -- My designated gentlereader

"I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's" -Mark Twain

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies,

When I was but a wee lad... No, actually till I was at least in my late twenties, it was possible to engage in heated political discussions, as much for the fun of it as anything else, without feeling that civil war was inevitable.

Not that it was possible to do so with everyone. There's a reason many people recommend against discussing politics (and religion) at the dinner table and elsewhere.

However, with certain relatives and friends, particularly with a bunch of individuals I didn't go to college with, late night political debates, that were often as not fueled by alcohol, were a thing.

Lines had to be drawn and observed but it was the intellectual equivalent of a friendly sports rivalry. No need to take it particularly seriously.

I married in my early thirties after a couple of years managing a fleet of someone else's ice cream trucks in Texas. As to Texas, there was much in way of partying, little in the way of debate, intellectual or otherwise. Hello Tom and Kitty, wherever you are.

Once married the endless party ended. My bride came pre-equipped with a kid and marriage, serious partying, and kids don't mix very well in my semi-humble opinion.

Late night passionate debates didn't make a comeback either. I married a sick chick (I'm talking physically sick, but a veritable force of nature...) and betwixt helping to keep her alive, supporting my daughter (your mother or grandmother) and my gift for working my ass off while avoiding the burdens of financial success -- I usually went to bed early.

Then I blinked three times and I was a widower and a grandfather. One evening I found myself having dinner with a friend and a couple in their mid-twenties early on in the new millennium.

This was my first encounter with triggering someone and triggering wasn't even a thing yet. I've always been a man ahead of my time.

After dinner, and over coffee and pie, a debate broke out over I remember not what. Although there's a slight chance that I may not be entirely correct, I have a vivid memory of intellectually dominating. It was me v. my friend and the male half of the young couple. I confess I neglected to monitor the emotional weather manifesting on the face of the female half. Hooge mistake.

In my defense, her participation in the discussion was virtually nil. However, I still might have been convicted had she charged me with political incorrectness which was, and remains, in vogue. Is political correctness subject to a statute of limitations?

Fortunately, Facebook's user base was composed of students at a small group of upper-crust institutions of higher learning at the time. Trolls were merely malevolent mythological monstrosities. And for that matter, Trigger was the answer to a trivia question. What was the name of Roy Rogers horse?

[Roy who?]

Never mind, Iggy.

Anyways, at some point, while I was not paying the attention that I -- a man who had been successfully married for 21 years and who had learned many lessons the hard way -- should have been paying, there was an explosion and I and my dining companions were riddled with psychic shrapnel.

"She leaped to her feet and stormed out of the restaurant in a huff." That's not a quote from a selection of mediocre fiction, that's exactly what happened. Really.

Although he was young and, relatively speaking, they had not been married very long he knew the rules. He leaped to his feet and followed.

"I think you just pissed her off," said my remaining companion, reacting to the no doubt baffled look on my face.

"Did we just get stuck with the check?" I replied.

My young friends returned to the table as my older friend and I were in the process of splitting the check, calculating the tip, and discussing which one of us, if either, was going to act as a collection agent to recover the cost of their food.

She, said nothing. Although the storm had apparently passed, ominous dark clouds lingered.

He, politely and diplomatically... well, long story short, it was explained to me that she passionately disagreed with me. Although she lacked the rhetorical skill -- and most importantly in my semi-humble opinion a command of the relevant facts to contest whatever it was I was on about -- she knew she was right, and she knew I was a bully.

That's not exactly how he put it but that's exactly what he said.

Although I confess my heart wasn't in it, I apologized for being a boor and fled the scene of the drama ASAP. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.

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©2018 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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