This is a list of some of the things that piss me off:
- Rude service
- Dirty old men
- People stealing my taxis
- People who sneeze and cough near me
It’s not like I’m a ticking timebomb. Granted, I’ve never been a morning person. In fact, I’m often testy in the afternoons and evenings too. I’ve slammed a few doors in my time and friends have jumped through hoops to avoid pushing my buttons. But when it comes to actually blowing my top – fire, brimstone and all – that really only occurs about once every four months. Technically not often at all. So, you may be wondering – what really sets me off?
It’s the principle of the matter, okay?
Prior to writing this, I thought about the things that trigger my anger. I even meditated while spending 30 minutes in the rain waiting for a taxi, wondering whether or not it was worth losing my cool over. (Not really.) In other words, I’m a self-aware, rational person who only gets truly angry when there is a just cause. Like when my sense of justice has been offended.
A few years ago, I was studying abroad and sharing an apartment with a friend. We generally got along, except when he left drops of pee on the rim of the toilet bowl. The first time it happened, I suggested that we both had to take care to hold the flush down.
When it happened again, I asked nicely if he would clean up after himself. This went on, and I kept reminding him politely. Each time he would apologise, but nothing would change. I resorted to making threats. “If you don’t stop, I’m going to take photos and post them on Facebook.” “I’m going to clean the mess up and stuff the dirty tissues in your pillow.”
I even got a mutual friend to talk to him. When nothing worked, I ignored him for a month, until he wrote me a letter, appealing to my sense of “brotherhood”.
I went ballistic. “I’ve given you over 10 chances to change, but you expect me to forgive you after writing one letter?” I screeched as I shook the sheet in his face. I ranted and raved, telling him how I felt my own bathroom was dirtier than a public loo, and eventually ended my tirade with “Don’t f*** with me!!!”
Still, I forgave him, and he behaved for a while. But the drama started again when he left a drop of pee on the bathroom floor one day. I had no choice but to close both eyes to his poor hygiene. However, deep down, I resented his inconsiderate ways. This went on until our lease expired and we went our separate ways.
Back at the beginning
I have a theory for where my temper comes from. I grew up the youngest in my family, the only girl among four older brothers. Yes, I know, you’re imagining a rose among the thorns, a spoiled princess being fawned over by her older brothers. Er… not really.
Of course, I received preferential treatment on occasion, but the truth is, being raised with so many boys made me as “thorny” as they were. After all, there was a lot of testosterone in the household and naturally there were quite a number of dramatic episodes; my dad livid over something naughty someone had done, my hot-tempered brothers perpetually at each other’s throats, or me being sniped at if I’d asked too many stupid questions. Whenever tension and frustration built up, a shouting match would ensue.
Slowly but surely, I learnt how to defend myself if I was hauled up for fighting with my brothers. If no one listened, I just raised my voice. If I needed to express a sentiment, I didn’t bother to sugar coat my words. Never mind if the intensity of that sentiment was unnecessary – the main thing was to get my point across.
I was (and still am) feisty, impatient and outspoken – the complete opposite of the kind of girl my mother was hoping she would get after raising four boys. Nonetheless, we were a family, and our hot blood was thicker than water. Our love language isn’t so much kisses and hugs as it is grunts and well-meaning criticism – but they are expressions of love all the same.
These days, there isn’t much friction at all – our growing older and wiser might have something to do with that.
Mellowing with age
Friends tell me I’ll mellow in my late 20s or early 30s. There probably is some truth to what they say. Compared to my tempestuous teenage years, I’ve definitely become more measured in my madness. Just the other day, I blandly acquiesced when a yong tau foo shop owner wouldn’t let me eat with my colleagues, just because I’d bought my duck rice from somewhere else.
That’s fine – I would rather eat alone in peace than ruin my lunch hour squabbling over something unimportant. A wise man once said, one must choose his battles wisely. I agree. Looking back on the years of getting into rows and making up (I even said “I’m sorry” at times), I’m starting to realise just how tiring the high-octane drama can be. Not everything is worth fighting over.
People wonder what kind of man I’ll end up with. He’ll have to be the type who can appreciate a sassy girl (as opposed to a Stepford wife), because I’ll be damned if I start swallowing my opinions for the sake of keeping the peace. He has to keep a cooler head than I can, for there can’t be two fire-starters in the house. And he must not pee on the bathroom floor. But for now, I love love love being an unfettered, feisty, unrepentant 25-year-old woman.
This story was originally published in the October 2010 issue of Her World.
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