I couldn’t imagine it. “What does he hate?” I asked.
“Our van. He says it makes him seem like a suburban father of six.”
Apparently all that was missing was the golden retriever bounding up its rear lift gate.
“He says that after he works out, he hides in the gym till no one’s looking, then races to the car, ducks in, and drives away.”
We’ve all got these little hatreds. One of mine is the use of the seasons as verbs.
“This is the lake we used to summer beside,” or “We always wintered in Vale.” (What about the other seasons? Does anyone “Spring” or “Fall” anywhere?) It sounds pretentious to me, but it’s probably just petty jealousy. I’ve gone on short vacations in winter and in summer, but never managed to “winter” or “summer” anywhere since the summers I spent with my grandparents in Florida, when I was a kid.
I hate when politicians talk about all that families deserve. What about the singles piled up in tiny apartments with a couple of roommates and barely a cubby to call their own? Or older people, whose families have forgotten them? Don’t they need or deserve anything?
More of my hatreds? The voices in nature preserves echoing off rock formations and scaring away the birds and other wildlife as they holler into cell phones. Don’t we flee to such places to avoid those voices?
In the journaling class I lead, we’ve given energetic consideration to the question of whether personal journal entries should adhere to the upbeat (chirp-chirp) model, or be treated as safe places to vent. I come down on the side of releasing frustrations on the page. Where else can we safely spew out our petty irritations and long-standing resentments?
And then . . .
A different friend told me that when her daughter returned from an overseas trip to an orderly country, the noise and seeming chaos of her home country, the US of A, grated. I couldn’t stop laughing when I heard her antidote to the stress her reentry had ignited.
The Hate Journal
She went out and bought blank notebooks that became her hate journals. (If hate’s too strong a term for you, try “complaint” journal, or it could be your “Where I Whine” journal.)
A hate journal bears no resemblance to a hate crime. In the former, no one gets hurt. In fact, the venting might even prevent law-abiding individuals from committing a crime.
Fine, Fine, Fine
In the 18th century, idle members of the upper classes cultivated melancholy. It gave them something to sigh about on their perambulations around their country estates. But nowadays, we are expected to be unrelentingly “fine.” Unlike the 18th century melancholics, our age has no tolerance for a good, old-fashioned funk, or for anyone who admits to feeling just plain “low.”
Among my friends and myself, any complaint we utter is quickly followed by assuring our listeners that, at least it’s not as bad as losing a leg, or being paralyzed as a result of an auto accident—equivalents of the “knock on wood” reaction. I think we fear that complaining about the minor crap we experience will bring on the big stuff from the universe.
“Oh, you think that’s bad? Try this!”
And lo, everyone will blame us for the plague of locusts that descends.
But, we can fuss away privately in our hate journals, and no one will be the wiser.
Feel free to share yours in a comment.