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 (Ã¢â‚¬Å“There are too many books on the shelf. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll have to bin someÃ¢â‚¬Â) and then Ã¢â‚¬â€œ when these were ignored Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a rant about being mistreated, a threat about landlords.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re an adult woman and are tiptoeing around,Ã¢â‚¬Â Mum would say. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Grownups resolve conflicts Ã¢â‚¬â€œ they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hide.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll tell her sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a knobÃ¢â‚¬â€œÃ¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean childish slanging. Everyone has their reasons. Talking never fails.Ã¢â‚¬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: Ã¢â‚¬Å“If signs of life in the flat bother you so much, try the morgue.Ã¢â‚¬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.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Perhaps,Ã¢â‚¬Â I thought, as muffled expletives drifted through the window, Ã¢â‚¬Å“this gent is simply agitated by deteriorating road conditions in austerity Britain. Maybe heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s having a bad time at work. Maybe all he needs is a hug.Ã¢â‚¬Â
I drove off when the light turned green. Some fights just arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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?