A long time ago, I lived with a domineering housemate who, despite her slight frame and cherubic curls, possessed the destructive force of a rageful god. If she had a bad day, you would know about it. You would hear her outside the door, angrily rummaging in (read: punching) her bag and know to take cover.
Then the cleaning would begin: loud, showy, door-slamming cleaning that felt like an accusation and filled the air with the smell of bleach. A bad episode would be followed by mean demands (â€œThere are too many books on the shelf. Youâ€™ll have to bin someâ€) and then â€“ when these were ignored â€“ a rant about being mistreated, a threat about landlords.
â€œYouâ€™re an adult woman and are tiptoeing around,â€ Mum would say. â€œGrownups resolve conflicts â€“ they donâ€™t hide.â€
â€œIâ€™ll tell her sheâ€™s a knobâ€“â€
â€œThat doesnâ€™t mean childish slanging. Everyone has their reasons. Talking never fails.â€
So I tried, and kept trying. It went nowhere. I could never elicit any recognition from her that her behaviour was unreasonable; instead, I found myself dragged into draining arguments. I moved out, leaving a snarky note: â€œIf signs of life in the flat bother you so much, try the morgue.â€ I had failed in my adulthood mission.
I thought about this earlier when a strange man was banging on my car window at a red light. He said I had cut him up. I had no idea.
â€œPerhaps,â€ I thought, as muffled expletives drifted through the window, â€œthis gent is simply agitated by deteriorating road conditions in austerity Britain. Maybe heâ€™s having a bad time at work. Maybe all he needs is a hug.â€
I drove off when the light turned green. Some fights just arenâ€™t worth the energy. And as for flipping the bird on my way off? Well, even the most adult of adults is allowed their moment, right?