When the driver threw the full sports drink bottle at my wife’s car, it’s as if his irrationality drilled through the passenger door and seeped into my brain.
I like to think of myself as a rational guy. Sure, I have irrational thoughts now and again, especially when caught in the grips of a panic attack or anxiety-inducing situation, but overall, I believe those closest to me would concur that I act rationally the majority of the time.
Last night, my wife and I were driving home from dinner at a friend’s. My wife at the wheel, we wound through some dark Pennsylvania two-way side roads, keeping an eye out for critters big and small that may have wandered into our path. Sure enough, less than a mile from home, a doe stepped into the road in the distance and froze in the oncoming headlights. Since my wife was going below the speed limit (40 mph), she had no difficulty braking in time for the doe’s safe escape. Imagine my confusion, then, when I heard the squeal of brakes after our car had already jolted back from the stop. No collision, thankfully, but a loud squeal nevertheless.
Turns out the individual behind us, who I would later find out was a lone, male driver, was surprised by our halting, even though prior to braking there were no headlights in my wife’s rearview mirror. I would find out, more immediately, this man was also now infected with irrationality. His symptoms progressed rapidly.
Stage 1 symptoms: Honking the horn–loudly. Not short bursts, but long, drawn-out blasts continually as we drove on.
Stage 2 symptoms: Headlights on high beam making it more difficult for him to see, as he was also progressing to Stage 3.
Stage 3 symptoms: Tailgating–further increasing the chance that another stop would render the same result as what initiated his symptoms.
Stage 4 symptoms: Swerving into the oncoming traffic lane, yet not passing since it was a no-passing zone.
Stage 5 symptoms: Throwing a full bottle of sports drink at my wife’s car as we turned left into our housing development.
Stage 6 symptoms: Speeding away at at least 50-60 mph through a residential area with a 25 mph speed limit.
Throughout the ordeal, up until Stage 5, I was encouraging my wife to ignore his antics, drive the speed limit, and keep herself safe. But, when the driver threw the full sports drink bottle at my wife’s car, I became infected. It’s as if his irrationality drilled through the passenger side door and seeped into my brain.
My irrationality symptoms began with several potential “options.”
Option #1: Follow that car! In fact, I actually said this to my wife mid-left-turn as the bottle struck the door. I mean, what’s more rational than asking my wife to lead us in a late night high speed chase through a residential neighborhood?
Option #2: Bottle Revenge! Pick up the bottle and proceed to throw it back. Not even with the throwing arm of an all-star pitcher would I reach the accelerating car.
Option #3: Fly Solo! Return home, jump in my own car, and chase after the perpetrator. Lord knows how I would find him. That wasn’t the point.
Option #4: Call the Police! “Yes, hello officer. I just had a bottle thrown at my wife’s car.” (pause) “No, I didn’t see what the man looked like.” (pause) “No, there wasn’t damage done to the car.” (pause) “No, I didn’t get the plate numbers nor the make and model of the car.” (pause) “No, I don’t know which direction he headed after he sped by us.” (pause). “Um, the car was reddish.”
My wife talked me down from enacting any of these options, but the infection spread. Like the man in the car, my irrationality turned from thought to action. I began grinding my teeth. I walked up an down the sidewalk with my greyhound, brainstorming a viable alternative. I mumbled vulgarities–ones he would never hear–quietly into thin air. When I returned inside, my wife brought me back to reality and I let it go.
I know, my irrationality was not this man’s fault. Sure, he was being an unsafe ass, but he didn’t make me choose my reaction. Only I can control that. Which means the infection lives in me. It lives in all of us. I just happen to have a strong antibody like my wife that helps me stave off the irrationality infection when it pops up.
Guyhood is a period rife with irrational outbreaks. So consider the question, “Who’s your antibody?”
Image credit: miguelb/flickr