Knowing when to quit

My grandfather – my mother’s father – had a notoriously peevish temper. I nonetheless dilute his abbreviations because he was an unremittingly pious man; and to my knowledge he never drank or smoked. Nor would I expect there to have been anything remotely lascivious in his behaviour notwithstanding he, like my mother, was devilishlly good looking. The last time I saw him I was no more than 21 years of age. I say this because my historic – and perhaps modified – recollection is that his paroxysms were more from annoyance than anger. Though this sounds an improbable distinction it is meant to capture the incongruence of events more than dispiriting encounters. To my deathless ignominy the authors of my own – shall I dare say “inherited” – snappishness inevitably amount to such trifling encounters as an unwilling App on my iPhone, or a casual bump on the side of my glasses when passing through a doorway, or an uncooperative salad bag whose top won’t properly open (and don’t get me started on those plastic bags in grocery stores for vegetables and fruits – they’re utterly impossible to open), or the myriad of other natural but insufferable repercussions of old age.

This, I grant you, Dear Reader, is an all too familiar moan.  My point however is not to enthuse one’s curmudgeonly inclinations but instead to examine the proper form of exit from the simmering squabbles. As a former student of William Shakespeare – and thus an admirer of his reflections upon life on both primary (the “plot“)  and secondary (the “sub-plot“) levels – it thrills me no end to observe that my own subordinate accommodations are echoed on a grander scale by the likes of Donald J. Trump as he appears to swoon – for more than two weeks – after the presidential election (one significantly that was touted as the most far-reaching election in American history). The disorder of temperament insinuates even the most glamorous!

Recognizing the universality of affliction does not cure the dilemma. Here I’m afraid the pestering feature of breeding rears its very inconvenient head. Make no mistake, pedigree is neither agreeable nor conciliatory, both credentials which hardly invite ready participation. Quite succinctly the performance is mandatory. It is a studied decision to avoid what invariably is regretted. Making the leap from one platform to the other is never easy.  For one thing sociability flies in the face of candid expression – to add the artistic element to the intransigence. Metaphorically the gap between anger and manners is one between the visceral and the cerebral. Bridging the chasm requires real skill.

As an aside it helps me in this critical choice to read E. F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia series or P. G. Wodehouse’s  Bertie Wooster novels. Wodehouse was the same guy who meaningfully observed,

I believe there are two ways of writing novels. One is mine, making a sort of musical comedy without music and ignoring life altogether; the other is going right deep down into life and not caring a damn…

I find it elevates my purpose in life at the apexes of controversy to recollect the humorous manner in which Bertie Wooster for example so nimbly rose above it all in spite of the proclamations of Aunt Agatha or the accusations of Honoria Glossop. He epitomized the immoveable mind and responded accordingly with stolid dignity.