In college I wrote a paper about a play written by Menander, a Greek playwright who wrote comedies during the 3rd Century B.C. The play was called Dyskolos, translated as The Misanthrope or The Bad-Tempered Man. I thought about him this week, since I am about as bad-tempered as I generally get and trying to minimize the damage.
To be fair, it’s been a pretty rocky few days. The week was kicked off with our sewer lines backing up into our basement after tree roots invaded the main sewer pipe. Spending a good portion of Monday masked and gloved was delightful. I am also preparing for a trip to visit family, which is always preceded by stomach knots and anxiety for me. And I’m on the tail end of severe burnout. It’s difficult to be around people or to interact without being offensive or dismissive. It happens. I just keep to myself, put my nose to the grindstone and work hard, until the sweat of splenetic impulse evaporates.
Earlier this week, I was invited to write a post for The Outlier Collective on the latest Facebook kerfuffle. I wondered whether writing a guest post when I am already sharp around the edges and banging about for a fight is a particularly good idea. Most of the time, I try to be thoughtful and see things from other people’s perspectives. Times like these, though, I have an attitude and it throws me off-kilter. I struggle not to tell the world that it’s shit and to go away. It’s a surly attitude, but more about me pushing for room to breathe than any true sentiment.
In Dyskolos, Knemon the Bad-Tempered Man hates anyone who tries to come onto his land or talks to him. He falls down a well and nearly dies, before seeing the error of his ways. I’m not sure how that works. Human nature dictates that we have short memories. He recovers from his near-death experience, continues to be cantankerous, but softens ever so slightly by joining a family party. Bully for him. I’m sure the party goers were delighted, after years of Knemon shouting curses and threats at them, that he showed up. He better have brought the good wine.
I try to avoid situations where I’ll have to backtrack in a week to apologize for my behavior or words or abrupt disappearance. Usually it works out. Some weeks, not so much.
“So, um, listen…when I said you had a God complex, I meant it in a good way, you know, like saintly…”
“Sorry I laughed hysterically when you told me about your accident. I just couldn’t believe anyone would be so stupid, I mean, uh, sorry. Again.”
“I didn’t mean that your child was a sociopath. I just meant he was exhibiting sociopathic traits…”
“I know I said that I’d call you back, but then Burn Notice came on and I remembered how much less interesting you are…”
I think I need to find a well down which to fall. Preferably with clean water.