Emotions. Don’t ask me. Just toss me a life preserver. It’s just one big upheaval and under I go. Hey. Somebody. Help!
Recently, Jim’s daughter told us that her friends held a “Free Fall” event at a restaurant. There, the lot of them treated her to a spirited reading of the sex scenes between Jim and me that I detailed, with some specificity, in my memoir. Father and daughter shared a hearty laugh over this incident. Tears of hilarity welled in their eyes. She retold the story. And retold it again. All good fun. He dabs at his eyes with the corner of a napkin. She smiles. A good storyteller can’t help herself. And she has a hum-dinger.
Uh oh, I thought, looking on at the two of them. This is going to be a problem. Why? I’m not laughing, is why. I’m the opposite of laughing.
I can diagram the mechanics of an emotional reaction with the accuracy of a scientist. Think of it as the physics of a hissy fit. I just can’t do much about containing it.
Here, in Part II of the restaurant incident, I detail the 12 stages of emotional meltdown. Whether 62 or 2, it’s terrible.
1. Trigger: Something dreadful happens, like my lover’s daughter relates an abhorrent incident, and my lover bellows laughter. Contagion. Others guffaw.
2. Confusion: Huh? What just happened? I feel a little strange. Alienation.
3. Chaos: Impulse in. Reason out. Wild energy — adrenaline? — shoots out the top of my head. I am lightning. I crave discharge.
4. Freeze: Ow. Holding it in hurts. But something, a kind of emotional rigor mortis, has turned me rigid. Mortification.
5. Cognition: Adrenaline rush subsides. What’s this? I think I’m pissed off.
6. Choice: Quick. People are wondering where my guffaw is. What to do?
a. Display anger — “In my next book, worm man, you couldn’t lure a dogfish.”
b. Play Miss Congeniality — “Very funny, dudes. What did you love most, guys, the blow job or the Orange Motion fantasy?”
c. Deliver The Look — “Tell me the truth, girl. You learned a trick or two yourself, right?”
d. Detach and Move On — “Hey sweetie. Have you stopped going to the gym or what?”
e. Drink — Alter one’s consciousness till sanity catches up to you. I choose “e” and keep my mouth shut.
7. Go Passive: My affect flattens. I circle my psychic wagons. Put on a neutral face. Relax hands. Make level eye contact. Bite tongue and loosen only to imbibe.
8. Phew: Surfacing now. Breathing again. A modicum of self-control restored. I suspect that I will not say anything I regret. On the other hand, I will not say anything.
9. Reckoning: I start to wonder: What precisely am I feeling? What don’t I like about what’s happening? What should I do? What are the words needed to convey my distressing message? Shit. Must I?
10. Snickers vs. martini: Some truths require a soothing tonic. Pause here for a treat.
11. Emboldened: Say it.
12. Free Fall: No regrets.
Jim is the rod to my lightning. I light up his world. Not necessarily in a good way.