Friday, June 14, 2024

I Accidentally Pulled the Trigger

Image by Christian Dorn from Pixabay

This weekly column consists of letters written to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now and haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"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 Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

I'm still in France, but not for long. I'll be returning to the U.S. with my new friend and his family the week after next. He's got his people trying to contact Bruce "I've never actually been a blue-collar anything" Springsteen's people and arrange a meet up down the shore.

This column was originally published in 2018, but once again I've done a bit a lot of rewriting and updating. Wouldn't it be cool if you could rewrite your life? Gotta run, Collette and I are going to our favorite French McDonalds for a farewell feast of snail nuggets and pommes frites. 

She's going to stay with her maman for a while as my impending departure has hit us both harder than we ever expected it would. C'est la vie. 

When I was but a wee fact, 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 people say don't discuss politics or religion at the dinner table.

I encountered this advice later than many I suspect. When I was a kid, one of seven siblings, everything was freely discussed at the dinner table except for sex, as my fellow Boomers hadn't invented it yet. 

But this was so long ago that supper was at five p.m., attendance was mandatory, and Uncle Walter told us everything that we needed to know about national/international news at six. 

A few years later, when I was old enough to know everything, late-night debates with a bunch of people I didn't go to college with were a thing. Lines were drawn and (mostly) observed and it was the intellectual equivalent of a (mostly) friendly sports rivalry. No need to take it particularly seriously (mostly).     

Fast forward to the Eighties: The most intense year or so of my life (so far) culminated in the spring of 1985. I was managing a fleet of someone's ice cream trucks in Austin, Texas (hello Tom and Miss Kitty, wherever you are) when I hired the woman, now deceased, who would in short order become my wife, to drive one of the trucks.  

She and her nine-year-old daughter, the mother of two of my four and a half grandkids -- it's very complicated, I've been married only once and have never reproduced -- with whom I currently share my house...

{How come she says you share her house?} 

Anyway, they lured me to Canada's deep South (Northern Ohio) to "meet the family" and I've been stuck here ever since.  

As to my sojourn in Texas, there was much in the way of partying and little in the way of intellectual debate, but once married the endless party ended. My bride had come pre-equipped with a kid and marriage, partying, and kids don't mix very well in my semi-humble opinion.

Late-night passionate debates never made a comeback in my life. I married a sick chick, physically sick, but a veritable force of nature. Betwixt helping to keep her alive, the three of us fed, and my gift for working my ass off while avoiding the burdens of financial success I usually went to bed early.

{OK, Roy, what's all this got to do with Trigger?}

I clicked my heels 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 at least its current version, wasn't even a thing yet. I thought I was a man ahead of my time but it turns out that the phenomenon has been recognized as far back as WW1. 

Interestingly, includes the word triggered in its slang dictionary, which is where I learned about the fact it's been around for over a century. 

Even more interestingly, Wikipedia has a relevant entry and if you scroll to the end you'll discover that  "Although the subject has generated political controversy, research suggests that trigger warnings are neither harmful nor especially helpful." 

Anyways... After dinner, 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 his lovely wife. 

Hooge mistake.

At some point, while I was not paying attention — I, a man who had been successfully married for 21 years and who had learned many lessons the hard way — there was a metaphorical explosion. My dining companions and I 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 romance novel, 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 her out to the parking lot."

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

{I thought there had been an explosion?

He, politely and diplomatically...well, long story short, it was explained to me that she passionately disagreed with me. 

Although she lacked the social and or rhetorical skills — and most importantly in my semi-humble opinion a command of the relevant facts to contest whatever it was I had been on about — she knew she was right, and she knew I was a bully, case closed.

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 crime ASAP. 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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