I read a snippet of an interview with Steve Carell yesterday in which he basically said he doesn’t waste time and energy being angry, because he doesn’t like the way it feels. Well how nice for Steve Carell. Still, it’s something I’d like to take a shot at, since it’s already nearly certain that my chronic insomnia is going to take years off my life, why add the toll of anger and stress to the equation? But it’s hard. I think what I’ve always assumed was passion might really be anger. So, if I’m no longer going to give myself over to anger, does that mean I have to be okay with the fact that the republican nominee for president has donated millions and millions of dollars to a church that has spent millions and millions of dollars fighting against marriage equality in states like California? Does it mean that I have to shrug and say, “Well, if they kill me, so what,” every time I have a “walk” sign in a cross walk and some ass-munch can’t wait four seconds before making his right turn? Surely it can’t mean I have to stop expending energy rooting AGAINST Tiger Woods–it’s not that he cheated on his wife, people, it’s his arrogance. I don’t know. What I do know is that a mere 24 hours after reading the Steve Carell article, I was tested.
With the exception of the occasional loud-ass sports fanatic, going to my coffee shop in the morning to read is a pretty relaxing experience, but today when I walked in, the place was packed. There was a large group of people sitting on the couches in the center of the room, with one woman clearly acting as ring leader. It’s an okay place for groups to meet. I’ve had the pleasure of sitting and judging scrabble clubs, knitting circles, and role playing (what do they call a group of role players?) covens in the past. It can be distracting, but entertaining. Judging by the age and apparel of this group, I thought I was seeing a gaggle of birdwatchers or 40-year-old speed dating virgins or something. At least that’s what I thought until I heard the woman in charge use the term, “abortion industry.” I don’t care what side of the argument you’re on, the correct side or the I-don’t-care-if-you’re-older-brother-raped-you-and-you-got-pregnant-it-was-god’s-will-and-you’re-going-to-have-that-baby side, just hearing the word “abortion” in public is likely to raise your blood pressure a tick or two. In my case, probably 30. Or my head might just go ahead and explode before an accurate systolic over diastolic reading. To be fair, the same could happen if I heard someone mispronounce the word, “nuclear,” like I said, I feel angry a lot. Anyway, once I heard “abortion industry,” I took a closer look at the group and saw one young lady wearing a t-shirt with a Jesus fish that said and the caption, “End Abortion,” and, lickety-split, I put together what I was witnessing.
The truth is, I shouldn’t have gotten angry. These people were saying things like, “Jesus died for your sins just as much as he died for mine,” I think indicating that they just want to show people the way towards what they think is the light. (That’s what people who believe in god call it, right, “the light?”) On the surface, that’s a nice thing. I mean, who cares that more than half the group was men who can’t get pregnant or know what it might be like to have a doctor tell you that, if you carry you’re baby to term, you’re very probably going to die. Big whoop, right? Men have known what’s best for women for centuries, let them keep at it.
Jen suggested that a good way to keep from getting angry is to realize that people like this group are so stuck in their ways that there’s nothing in the world that’s going to change their minds. She made a good point, but it directed me more toward despair than acceptance. No one is susceptible to a mind change? That can’t be true, can it? Is this true for everything that I feel strongly about? Will I never convince any of those folks who stood in line at Chick-fil-a in the name of
free speech bigotry that the world won’t come to an end if I’m legally allowed to marry my girlfriend? Will I never get the world to acknowledge that Mad About You was one of the greatest television shows of all time? How am I supposed to keep getting out of bed every single morning if all hope for progress and reason is lost? We can at least all agree that Carrot Top is the least funny comedian ever, right?
About the time I started to cool down, I noticed that the woman I’d just heard talking about this great line of “former fetus” t-shirts for babies she discovered online and who had gone to the trouble of asking 2 different customers to take pictures of the group deep in discussion so she could post it on her Facebook page had a young child with her. “Come on, honey. Mommy will take you for ice cream as soon as we’re finished with her abortion clinic protest planning meeting. Make sure you pay attention. Some day you’ll be able to tell women what to do with their bodies, too. Ooh, you look so smart in your little, ‘I’m a life, not a choice’ shirt. That embryo really brings out the blue in your eyes.” I don’t know why I found the presence of the kid so distasteful. I don’t know if it was that I think life is enough of a bummer that maybe you shouldn’t yank away a kid’s innocence by having him listen in on such serious conversations at such a young age. I don’t know if it’s the idea of the kind of total indoctrination that’s going to keep this kid from ever truly being able to make up his own mind. Maybe, as a pro-choicer, I just subconsciously hate all children and wish their mothers had terminated their pregnancies. I mean, judging from the protest signs and billboards, that’ what some of these folks seem to think. Maybe they’re right. I kind of like the idea of being an aunt though, and some of my friends have had some pretty cute kids that I enjoy spending time around. Once, someone left me with their 2-month-old baby for half an hour, and not once did I throw that baby in the nearby pond. Yeah, I don’t think the presence of this kid bothered me because I wished he’d never been born. I think it was probably more likely option “A” or “B.”
I think part of the reason I felt myself getting angry at this group was that they were in MY coffee shop in MY trendy, urban neighborhood. Earlier this week, I overheard a husband excitedly tell his wife that if the measure to instate of non-partisan redistricting process succeeds, uber-liberal elf-man, Dennis Kucinich could re-run for the congressional seat he was districted out of. These are the kinds of people I’m used to dealing with in my little home-away-from-but-still-really-close-to-home. The kind of people who, when the anti-choice group finally got up and left, collectively looked around at the folks at neighboring tables and asked questions along the lines of, “What the fuck just happened here?” And when everyone seemed to say, “I don’t know, but that shit was weird,” I realized I wasn’t angry at all.