I kind of lost it yesterday.
You know the scene in the movie where the guy being yelled at says "Let's talk about this tomorrow," and the other guy, the pissed-off guy, says "No, we're going to talk about this now"? That was me, last night. The pissed-off guy. The one that people are telling to calm down, relax, let's talk this out. Using the words you hear in movies.
Two days ago I was bit by a dog while beginning my run. To go for a run I have to go up a short incline that borders an elementary school on the right, and a house on the left that features two dogs that are always growling and barking, and often roaming around free. The other day was one of those 'roaming-around-free' days, and one of the dogs decided to nick me in the leg. Not a Cujo bite, no, but a bite is a bite, and after fourteen years of running, this is the first time I've been bitten.
I complained to the owners. Or tried to, anyways. The owners were away, in the provinces. Fine. The kid in charge, the one who answered my call at the gate, a teenaged kid, was named Blue. Whatever. I've heard stranger names. He was nice enough, apologizing, telling me that it wouldn't happen again.
The next morning, while trudging up the hill to go to work, the dogs were loose again.
Last night I went to the house again, just as the owners were getting home. I explained who I was. They tried to brush me off. Come back tomorrow, they said. We're tired, they said. This is the Philippines, and things are different here, and you can't blame a dog, yada-yada-yada. I told them I wasn't blaming the dog, I was blaming them. Then I asked if the dog had had any shots. When they said no, I kinda sorta pretty much lost it.
"My girlfriend is dying of cancer," I yelled, the dark mountain night around me doing little to absorb my raised voice. "If she gets bitten, she will get sick, and she will die. Do you understand that?"
It went on and on, as arguments do. A fragile peace was enacted. I left angry, almost enraged. I flashed back to the time in Japan when I was whacked in the stomach with a two-by-four by a homeless nut, while nobody around me helped me.
I've never really lashed out at anybody before like that. I'm not proud of it, but I'm a LITTLE bit proud that they may be worried. Because just this morning I heard from a local fellow that his wife was bitten by that same dog last year. It's not dogs running around loose around here that worries me, because a lot of dogs run around loose; it's the crazy and vicious ones running around that get my blood boiling. It's not me getting bitten that worries me; it's a cancer patient getting bitten, or one of the kids from the school not five metres from their house.
There's a lot of things I don't understand about living in Japan, in Cambodia, and now in the Philippines. But some things are universal. It's not right to yell at somebody, no, but it is right to stand your ground. When you're ticked off, remembering that distinction can be quite different. For the New Year I will ask myself to keep a cooler, more level head. I will try to have access to the better angels of my nature at the necessary time. And I will hope that the stuff I keep deep down inside of me, the passion and feelings and rage and compassion will come out in a better, more humane manner.
On a lighter note, now that that's all out of my system, Happy New Year!!! Many thanks to the handful of people who read this blog, and all the best for a safe and fulfilling 2006. The best is yet to come.