My friend, Shannan is very committed to exercising regularly. And in light of the fact that the button has come off of not one, but TWO pairs of my capri pants lately (they were cheap pants), I decided to join her today at the gym to walk on the treadmill.
It's a pretty smallish gym and there are only four treadmills. I had gotten there a little early and decided to get right to it. There was only one other person in there - a middle aged man two treadmills away from me. After about ten minutes of walking as fast as I could, it had gone from warm in there to sweltering so I decided to turn on the two fans in the room that usually lower the temperature about a half a degree. They are usually on all the time and I wondered why they were off. As I turned on the second fan, the middle aged man who I will now refer to as Mr. PissyPants shook his head in a disapproving manner and gave me a look that should have been saved for the kind of people who hit puppies with sticks. And then he hissed at me, "Turn that thing off or point it the other way!" I felt like I had just been scolded. Why was this man so grumpy and what made him think he had the right to scold me?
It got me to thinking about a relative of mine who I will call "Fred." Whenever we are with "Fred" it is like walking on eggshells. You never know what will set him off and it has been even harder since we had Wesley. For instance, it might be perfectly fine for Wesley to lick the television set or suck on the remote control, but DEAR GOD, he'd better not touch the JC Penney catalog. Because you certainly couldn't get another one of those! With people like this, you can never relax because you just don't know what will be okay or what will send "Fred" into weird fits of disapproval that comes off as anger. And it makes everyone but "Fred" really uncomfortable.
With "Fred," the littlest things become giant catastrophes - not getting the cheese on his breakfast sandwhich, finding out the restaurant is out of meatloaf, someone holding the freezer door open for more than 10 seconds - it isn't hard to get his panties in a wad. And it is kind of embarrassing to be the rest of us as the situations come unglued.
So this is what I think...people who are unstable like this should have to wear a scarlet "U" on the front of their shirts (for Unstable, duh!). And they should have to carry a list of all their neuroses with them for others to look at so that we could AVOID the situations that set them off.
If Mr. PissyPants had been wearing his scarlet "U" and had been carrying his list of situations to avoid, I could have known that turning on the fan would send him over the edge.
But I still probably would've turned it on.