East of Normal
Five minutes later and slightly unhinged
They say you should never send an email in anger, and neither should you post upon the Internet when in the throes of that corrosive passion we in the South call pissed as hell. No, you should never do those things; but there is no rule saying you can’t write a column, some toxic, vile polemic dedicated to that special someone whose freshly severed head would look absolutely adorable perched upon my dining room table right now, with the eyes popped out and replaced with olives, the mouth yet quivering in a last gasp at life, retching in mute protest as I put my cigarette out on his tongue and jam a railroad spike down through the top of his dickwad head while “Sister Ray” plays at a paint-peeling volume and the heavens open up to receive my sacrifice to the gods of ass-stomping, brain-boiling, unfettered fury.
You see, I have this friend — and we can’t be using real names here. So this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to get out that old phone book we have sitting on a bottom shelf, and I’m going to open it up to A, close my eyes, and stab my finger on a name. Boom! There we go. Allied Van Lines. That’s a cool name. It’s Dutch-sounding, what with the Van and all. Let’s call him Al.
There are two things you need to know about Al: One, he doesn’t suffer fools. Two, I’m not kidding, he really doesn’t farging suffer fools! GOT IT? You’ve got to step lively around Al. He’s one of those guys who has a quick answer for everything, and a Pew Research study recently showed that people who have a quick answer for everything really need their eyeballs replaced with olives and their severed heads fitted inside one of those charming cast-iron, spin-around apple peelers like your grandmother had.
The thing about people who have a quick answer for everything (also known as “assholes”) is they compel you to try and have a quick answer for everything too. And if you are — like I am — not much for verbal zingers, then the verbal overload from Al or anyone like him causes a venomous residue to pile up in your gullet. And here’s the worst part of it: You always think of the right comeback five minutes later! When the moment is gone! And you feel like George Costanza running into a meeting a week later yelling, “Well, the jerk store called and they’re outta YOU!”
This is not my first rodeo with Al. There have been many times over many years when I’ve wanted to sauté his ears in a wok full of pot stickers with a little onion and teriyaki sauce. The way I feel right now, I can unshakably affirm to you that this is the last — absolute last — time I take any of Al’s guff, or lose my mind over some snarky email he sends thinking he’s funny, when he’s really about as amusing as a dead car battery at 3 a.m. Never again will I take his guff!
But I also know, should I really ever have a dead car battery at 3 a.m. and was somewhere near the simpering white bread, preppy suburb where Al makes his den, he would come jump me. The only payment would be having to listen to him while he did it. I can hear it now: “Womack, this battery’s ancient! Don’t you ever take care of shit? Jeez, I’m surprised you’re alive! How do you live, Womack? No, get out of my way; you’re no good at this! I got this! Go write something!” And I will stand there, waiting for the comeback that will hit me five minutes later, and I’ll know he loves me, and I love him, even as I picture his head mounted on my turntable, red pimentos jammed up his nostrils while I chop up his heart for stew.