Scene: An attractive couple madly in love with each other snuggle on the couch in their living room, enjoying a movie and feeding each other heart-shaped popcorn-chicken nuggets. Kittens purr at their feet and butterflies flutter past in the waning afternoon sun. Between powerful bursts from their exceptional sound system the melodious chirping of birds can be heard ever-so faintly.
Lady stands, bending over to seductively kiss Man’s neck.
“I’ll be right back Honey, I’m using the loo. Will you pause it for me please?”
Man affectionately squeezes a lady part and smiles like the cat that ate the canary.
“Anything for you baby.”
Lady walks down the hall while man leans to watch her go, popping another heart-shaped nugget. He closes his eyes, savoring the glory that is his life in this moment. ”Damn I’m a lucky man,” he thinks.
Then things fall apart.
A blood-curdling scream echoes from the hall, punctuated by the sound of glass breaking. The scream turns into an angry chant: “This never should have happened. I should have known better. Am I losing my go—n mind? This never should have happened…”
Man sits frozen, face red from choking on the love-nugget that lodged in his windpipe when the unexpected noise caused him to gasp in surprise.
And then he hears the door open. Footsteps pad slowly down the hall. His heart races. His thoughts explode in terrified confusion: ”Crap. Am I in a horror film? Did the Exorcist get a hold of her in there? I’m like that idiot that’s going to die in first scene. Maybe I can get to the kitchen for a knife. No, no, too far away. I’ll just throw the nugget plate at her if her eyes are red. Chuck ‘n’ Duck. Crap.”
Lady steps into the living room. All is silent but his heart beat. The theme from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly whistles unheard in heavy air.
Man glances at her hands for potential weapons then dips his head low, signaling submission, and looks up into her eyes, afraid to spark a murder spree. He says nothing.
“You left the toilet seat up.”
Stunned, the man looks left and right for hidden cameras while he struggles for the response that effectively resets life to when chicken love-nuggets reigned supreme.
He says nothing.
But like most drama, this is based in reality. And it isn’t just a woman thing, men flip out as well, over different things or sometimes the same things… Innocuous little everyday items that mean a whole lot more than the average fork/water spot/dirty child/ late dinner/ toilet seat.
You know what they are. At work, it may be the darn TPS report. At church, maybe it’s the multimedia system failing. At home, maybe it’s late dinners, mismatched socks, full trash cans or drinking the last of the orange juice. In fact, these things are meaningless. In your emotional landscape they are land mines, symbols, totems that set you off in a temper tantrum, expressed inwardly or outwardly, ultimately destructive.
Why do these things matter so much then? Why would one stare at an empty dinner table, a hole in a sweater, or latrine with such a strong reaction if they don’t mean anything?
Well, the same way we get sentimental about the great things… Roses, babies, wedding rings, sporting events, romantic dinners, we get sentimental about the not-so-great things. It’s about where we are personally and circumstantially when we encounter these things, and what these things represent for us. And what feeling that representation inspires.
I bet your ex’es baby wouldn’t make you coo as fast as your best friend’s. That candlelit dinner with your grandpa wouldn’t make your heart flutter like it would with your love-nugget. Even a wedding proposal, if received on the day of some catastrophic tragedy loses its romance and charm.
In the interest of ensuring scenes like the one above are perpetuated in art, instead of in real-life exchanges, let’s all agree to recognize what we’re dealing with.
And burn them. And bury them. And burn them again.
Well, the answer is always simple, right? Sprinkle some love on it.
Self-love. Because if any thing is able to disrupt your peace, you weren’t really ever settled to begin with. Yes, maybe you hate the thing because it symbolizes a riff with your love-nugget. But honestly, if you were truly at peace with yourself, the riff would be resolved. Not festering. It’s hard to distinguish a rotten grape from a rotten tomato if they’re all smooshed up together.
Yes, the Tantrum Totem sets you off. It’s like a smoke detector, telling you something’s wrong. So if it ain’t about the toilet seat, or dinner being ready, but instead that your love-nugget ain’t lovin’ you the way you need to be… That’s what you want to figure out.
It’s hard to talk about your needs with someone else when you don’t know what they are. If your life isn’t clearly defined, and you aren’t really happy and at peace with it, you can’t really expect anyone in it to know how to function on that level.
Life meets us where we are, not where we want to be.
So next time you come home and dinner is late, or the toilet seat is left up, try going over to your love-nugget, and hugging them and tell them you’re glad they’re there.