I Hate Confrontation

Honest to god, call me a wuss, but if there were any way I could opt never again to be in a room with people who are yelling, or in a tearful rage, I’d sign up PDQ.

As it is, I live with the fight-or-flight response produced by such confrontations for hours afterward.

And that’s when I’m not the object of the yelling or the raging. Imagine what a wreck I become when I am.


  1. C’mon, at least give us some context. The whole world can describe at least two of your toenails — the least you can do is tell us what provoked the fight-or-flight blowback.

  2. Sorry, meg, but not a chance. Given my total lack of anonymity, there is ever the possibility that these folks, who know who they are, might stumble upon this here post and not simply recognize themselves, but know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’ve been airing their professional dirty laundry in public. Which would be decidedly undiplomatic of me, and might set me up for some of that yelling or raging. No sirree.

    The toenails, by contrast, have no recourse.

  3. Okay, this took me a while, but I think I’ve got it. Though it’s starring two angry toes; the toenails are merely adjunct to the drama.

    (With all due apologies to the folks involved; you know I’m all about discretion, but I just could not resist the challenge.)

    There are these two toes, see. They’re on different feet, and in somewhat different positions, but they bear much in common, not least of which is their role in walking. Also, neither of them is the big toe.

    In order to improve their ability to walk, they (and all the other toes) have decided to get a new pair of shoes. Toe #1, in addition to walking, also runs, and so wants to get running shoes, which can also be used for walking. Toe #2 understands why toe #1 likes to run, but isn’t a runner itself, and is committed to walking as a serious form of exercise. Accordingly, toe #2 would like to have some shoes that are walking-specific, perhaps even sandals that allow it to feel the breeze and smell the flowers.

    In the shoe-buying meeting, in which it becomes clear that a pair of running shoes will likely be purchased, toe #1 asks toe #2 whether such shoes will accomodate its needs, displaying appropriate concern about those needs, but in so doing makes a disparaging comment about walking for exercise that deeply offends toe #2. Toe #2 has heard such comments from most of the other toes repeatedly over the last few years, and has finally had enough; it combusts, yelling that walking is an important form not only of exercise but also of transportation, and that it’s tired of hearing that walking is too slow to be serious.

    Toe #1 backpedals, but the damage is done; toe #2 is all het up at this point. Toe #1 insists that it has always displayed the utmost support for walking, pointing to its own ongoing role in the walking process, but suggests that perhaps walking could be fruitfully augmented by running, which has a kind of rigor that the half-measure of walking doesn’t. Toe #2, no longer yelling, but still clearly pissed off, demands to have its walking taken seriously, as it has had to struggle to maintain a walking regimen at all, and has done so under resistance both from the running toes and from the other body parts which would just as soon sit on the couch and grow fat. And what has it gotten for its pains, after all these years of walking in running shoes? Blisters, from inadeqate ventilation, and disrespect from running toes.

    Toe #1, for its part, is beginning to lose it. Toe #1 has not had a good time of it lately — has in fact recently lost its nail due to an extended period of running — and is feeling more than a little sensitive and overworked, and so defends itself and its comments again by pointing out its own concern for walking, and by pointing out that this all began with toe #1 asking toe #2 whether its needs were being met, which should indicate nothing other than respect both for toe #2 and for the walking process, and frankly (and about here toe #1, who has been fighting back tears, begins to lose that battle in a big bad way) that toe #2 seems not to want toe #1 to have any opinions about shoes, or about quality exercise, and is only taking out its anger on toe #1 rather than any of the other toes because toe #1 is the little toe, and is therefore the least powerful of them all.

    At which point toe #2 apologizes for its expression of anger, but the effects of overwork and toenail loss on toe #1 leave it unable to pull things back together in order to continue the meeting, and so they go their separate ways.

    Probably they’re still going to buy running shoes. But there’s likely to be a sandal provision as well.

  4. Joe’s right — that *was* feckin’ brilliant. I can’t wait to get home, pour champagne down your throat (trusting that you will return the favor), and talk more toes. Just gettin’ digital, you understand.

    And, btw, witnessing those kinds of scenes wigs me out for at least 12 hours too. It’s as if adrenalin were an airborne disease.

  5. Champagne! Ah, meg, you know the pathways to my indiscretion all too well. I’ll look forward to it.

    Thanks for the kind comment, joe, and Rory, thanks for the challenge!

    The best part of this, for me, is that all the folks who end up on my site looking for information about toenails — and they are legion — are now going to be mighty confused.

  6. I believe I’ve seen you pretty darned looped, but I’ve never seen you indiscreet. Slightly less diplomatic than usual, yes, but even t??talli h?•mmrd, you don’t say things you shouldn’t. It is one of the most impressive things about you.

  7. That’s an extraordinarily kind thing to say, meg, and particularly to one such as myself who gets completely paranoid about the possibility of having been indiscreet whilst under the influence.

    I am a bit curious about the Ikeafication of that particular state, though…

  8. The Ikeafication is in reference to a hilarious review of a Swedish restaurant, Glas, that I have reservations for on saturday night. The reviewer (I forget whether it was the Times or the Independent) made up about 20 different Ikeanyms for “drunk,” in honor of their fine selection of aquavits.

    I’ll let you know if it’s true.

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