The Promise Of A New Day: Angry People

ALICE STEINBACH

October 03, 1991|By ALICE STEINBACH

I need to say this fairly fast because the task I have assigned myself -- to find the last un-angry man or woman in America -- looks like it's going to take much longer than I thought.

I realized the magnitude of the problem last night, while reading through my diary entries from the weekend. In fact I am beginning to think that, like Diogenes who wandered the streets of Athens looking for an honest man, I may spend my remaining days in search of an un-angry person.

Which is why I have decided I don't have time to write this column. Instead I shall make my point by submitting, for your scrutiny, the following pages from my diary.

Saturday -- Awaken at 8 a.m. to a radio talk show on which everybody is arguing about whether or not Columbus discovered America. Somebody says that Columbus wouldn't know America he fell over it. Then somebody else gets angry about the use of the name "America" -- instead of the United States -- to describe the land mass Columbus did, or didn't, discover.

Am drinking coffee when phone rings. It's a feminist friend who's just finished reading a new biography of her idol, Simone de Beauvoir. She's angry because she's just read that Simone de B. stooped when she was with her lover John Paul Sartre -- so he wouldn't seem so short.

Decide to do errands early. Outside my house, I bump into a neighbor's kid sitting on her porch, coloring with a new pack of crayons. She's angry because the Crayola people have dumped her favorite color -- orange red -- and replaced it with something called wild strawberry.

Find myself feeling really angry that Revlon no longer makes lipstick in "Fire and Ice" shade.

Arrive at post office to find about 20 people in line. All angry because only one window out of four is open. Eavesdropping in line, I learn that everybody at somebody's party on Friday night got really angry about how many people now have car alarms and how nobody pays any attention to them when they go off at 5 in the morning.

At supermarket I bump into friend who's really steamed about the way Donald Trump has dumped Marla. Again. Think about telling my friend not to worry -- Marla can take care of herself, blah, blah, blah -- but instead find myself getting angry because supermarket is out of triple-fudge brownies and low on Healthy Choice Dinners.

Go out to dinner with friends and talk turns to politics. Some women at table are angry because when George Bush cries on TV, it's OK. But when Pat Schroeder did it, everybody got weird about its being a "woman thing."

Men at table respond by expressing anger about not knowing what they're supposed to be nowadays. Vulnerable? Strong? Sensitive? Stoic? One man complains about the woman he saw wearing a T-shirt that read: "Grow Your Own Dope -- Plant A Man."

Sunday -- Wake up from dream in which I am back in college and angry at my history professor because she won't accept my paper on "Cats in America Before the Civil War."

Turn on the TV. John McLaughlin and a group of pundits are yelling angrily at one another about George's Bush's domestic policy:

"He's right."

"No, he's not."

"Yes, he is."

"Not."

"Is."

Read newspaper piece written by an Asian-American student at Yale who seems angry about the so-called politically correct movement on college campuses. "Another fad now," she writes, "is for people to spell women with a 'y' in place of the 'e' -- 'womyn.' These people want to take the 'men' out of 'women.' Next perhaps they'll invent 'femyle.' "

Meet friends for lunch at the art museum. One friend gets angry at another for ordering a beef burger from menu. Gives her a 20-minute lecture on how slaughterhouses really work. We all decide to skip lunch.

Upstairs at painting exhibition, two young men are discussinthe pros and cons of minimalist art:

"It stinks."

"Does not."

"Does."

"Not."

I leave museum feeling angry about having chosen abstract work by Kandinsky for Christmas card instead of one I really wanted -- sledding kittens dressed as Santa's elves.

Driving home, get stuck behind a guy who insists on observing the 55-mph speed limit. Makes me so angry I pull up alongside him and yell out window: "Slowpoke!"

Arrive home and find cats in angry mood because I forgot to leave out their catnip toys.

Decide it isn't worth getting angry about. Decide to go to bed instead and get angry tomorrow. For tomorrow, after all, is another day.

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