When Push Comes to Shove

In my late thirties and early forties, I spent a lot of time being angry.  It seemed that people often went out of their way to cross me and block my path. This was one of those times. I think I was driving an 70-something Nissan. For once, there was nothing wrong with my car.

I took my daughter to the county fair after school. We were one of the first people there in the afternoon, since I did not want to keep her out late by waiting until dark. She was about six or seven at the time, and her dad did not enjoy riding the rides that I liked—the fast rides that depend on angular motion for their thrill.  Since she was with me, I thought she would be safe enough, and I could watch her ride the kiddie rides and have a few moments to myself.

I did get a scare when we rode the Viking ship, a ride that rocks back and forth like a giant swing. She was barely tall enough, but she begged to ride it because it looked like a dragon. Since I was with her, they let her ride. She was excited and had a wonderful time.

On the other hand, I was terrified. She would float up out of the seat every time we rose to the top of the swing, and I held on to her for dear life. I’ve never had the thought of falling out of or off a ride, other than a Ferris wheel, which I hate. I just knew she would sail right out of the ship and fall to her death if I didn’t clutch her shoulder.

Needless to say, I was shaken when we got off the ride, ready to go home. When we got back to the car, a lot more people were at the fair, and my Nissan was blocked in on all sides. I was not amused.

One thing I had learned from my many car-pushing experiences was that a car in neutral or out of gear could be pushed by one person on level ground. I checked the car in front of my car, and sure enough, it was unlocked and an automatic.  I put it in neutral and checked the emergency break, which had not been set.

I channeled my inner anger and pushed the car far enough so that I drive my car out.  Then since I was still angry and wanted to make something of a statement, I pushed it back into place, leaving the open space where my car had been.

If my daughter thought anything of this, she didn’t share. As I said, I was angry a lot in my late thirties. She’s a smart kid.

I don’t know where all that anger came from, maybe from second-wave feminism, maybe from my frustration with teaching high school English, or some misguided sense that I should be doing something closer to reaching for my dreams. But I can certainly see where a man might grow cold and distance himself from a constantly angry wife.

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