Carla replied to the last post “What Noise Annoys A Curmudgeon” thusly:
You speak the truth, Mr Trivia. But I’d wager neither you or anyone else stood up and walked on over to those slobs and told them what was what.You’re a member of a passive-aggressive cult to the Individual.
Carla has met me and props to her on her analysis, but she is missing one part of my case history.
About seven years ago, I started to find that whenever people talked near me in the cinema during a movie I would be moved to shoosh them. And if they were teenage guys I could be quite aggro about it; figuring that a disproportionate amount of vehemence would discourage any further attempts at talking.
One day I was sitting in the cinema with my then-partner and three guys behind us were adding comments to all the dialogue and stopping me from enjoying the film, so I turned around and said, “I paid to see this, so you keep your mouths shut.” If you know me, this is out of character. My partner said it was a bit over the top – not the language necessarily, but the tone.
Later, while watching Sin City with a large of group of friends at the Millenium in Fremantle, I did the same kind of thing. When the kid asked if I was talking to him, I abused him by uttering the witty phrase, “Yeah I mean you, d__khead, shut the f__k up.” Once again out of character, but maybe not – a pattern was developing. In this case my friends said I was mouthing off because there were so many of us. I think they had a point.
And yet, I had another go at getting my head punched in when I was in the cinema with my brother and this occasion was particularly stupid because the three or four teenagers I assumed I was speaking to, turned out to be quite a few more. When I leant over to look at how many people I was having a go at, I suddenly felt scared.
There is no way I am up to fighting anyone, and it was after the last incident that I reasoned that it was more intelligent for me to sit away from chatty, smart-arsed youngsters – even when I was one, I didn’t have any Jet Li moves that I could whip out to defend myself.
I have tried the reasonable tone with some success when getting my neighbours to turn down their stereo at 2am, but I think the fear I feel at asking strangers to behave reasonably is only partly the fear of asserting what I want and getting a negative response.
I also fear that I will mouth off with absolutely no thought of the consequences.
I remember an even earlier example of this, when I was 12 my father had to step in and stop me getting my arse kicked in the Mount Hawthorn Public Library. These guys from Tuart Hill kept asking me if I knew who “Hedzik’ was. “I was in the middle of telling them I had never heard of Hedzik when Dad hustled me out of there. He said that I was going to get into a fight with guys and I insisted I wasn’t.
On reflection , I believe we were both right. Dad was correct that there would have been a fight if he hadn’t intervened. (It would have lasted seconds and I would have ended up on the carpet in front of the Gollancz large print books.)
I was correct in my own way, because I had absolutely no intention of fighting anyone. I was giving out plenty of aggro energy, but had not even the sketchiest physical move in mind. I wouldn’t have even ducked.
So, Carla’s passive-aggressive call is on the money, but I think I’ll stay seated, thanks. I don’t think I’m smart and balanced enough to keep the lines of communication clear – yet.
Or as they saying goes, “Don’t let your mouth write checks that your ass can’t cash.”
Elevate the insignificant,