… is not Kathy Bates wielding a sledgehammer.  Or the lady sleeping in a cardboard box under Wacker Drive.  Or the woman living in purdah in some God-forsaken corner of the world.   She’s the one right next to you.

You know who I mean.  That woman who pushes herself beyond all human endurance and then snaps… usually in your face and about something that is completely non-contextual.  The one at the gym that does more reps and kills herself on the stepper, and then screams in your face because you took her locker by mistake.  The one that attends more soccer games, Scout meetings, PTA pow-wows and ballet classes than anyone alive and explodes when she can’t find a parking space next to the door at Trader Joe’s.  The one working 40 hours a week while attending night school that you find sobbing in a corner of the ladies room.  Yeah… her.

I ran into her last night.  She waylaid me as I walked from my car to the door of the studio, madder than a hornet and ready to do battle.  Or at least her beastly (and much bigger) companion was, a hulking resentful mess of a woman who was clearly drafted by her to act as back-up.  Without much explanation, she launched a raging verbal assault, complete with finger-pointing and lots of name-calling.  The reason for her meltdown?  I turned off a fan.

Yep, I admit it.  I switched off a fan.  Guess that makes me quite the villainess, right?  And I suppose it would… provided it was ventilating priceless artifacts or cooling giant servers.

It wasn’t.  In fact, the only thing it was cooling down were my students who were shivering in the drafty classroom.  So I turned it off, little suspecting the firestorm to come.

But it came like the wind, bearing down on me in the shape of a fireplug with an extremely bad temper and a spittle problem.  It gathered in the corners of her mouth like tiny wads of cotton and I tried not to stare, fixing a blank look of interested concern on my face.  I wasn’t, of course, because she was completely deranged and refused me rebuttal, but I feigned it, wondering when she’d run out of ammo and finally shut up.

It dragged on and on.  I never knew there were so many variations on a theme.  How many ways can you say You inconvenienced me therefore you should die?  Even She-Hulk, the hired muscle, threw in her two cents with a couple of artless insults.  I had hoped for something more creative.

In fact, the entire event was a letdown. A huge waste of time, words and energy.. and for what?  Hurt feelings?  One-upmanship?  Petty triumph?  This miserable woman blew a fuse because she couldn’t get she wanted:  priority in all things.  Despite knowing that it would cause discomfort to others, she switched on a fan to cool herself and became enraged when her desire was subordinated (by me) to the needs of the group.

Yes, she was angry; that was apparent as she screamed at me in the parking lot.  And yet, the location of her tantrum told me more about her true feelings than the venom she spewed.  She was ashamed of herself.

Why else would she take pains to conceal her temper?  If she had a valid argument, it would withstand public scrutiny.  Instead she chose to act as a coward and ambush me in private.

And she was fearful.  If not, there would be no need for the hired thug.

And most importantly, she needed to vent to somebody that she trusted.  Venting is ugly, unfeminine and harsh.  No woman wants to be seen or remembered in that light.  But I’ve seen her without her flesh mask and I now know what she truly is.  Explosive knowledge of that kind can only be entrusted to the non-judgmental.

So in a crazy, mixed-up roundabout way, she was reaching out and revealing to me that which she dare not in public. Does she need or want my forgiveness?  It doesn’t matter.  She has it nonetheless.


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