I'm quick to anger. it's not one of my more admirable characteristics, that is, if I even have more than one, it is simply a product of a defect in my DNA. You see, if I think of it that way then everything that is wrong with me I can blame on my parents, which, as all of you know, is the dysfunctional family defense used by people who can't stand the idea of failing all by themselves.
I have worked hard on conquering this attribute that was handed to me with genetic instructions penned by my father by trying to learn to short circuit any anger before the anger spring gets wound too tight and snaps. Usually when that happens, I say or do something that I think is brilliant, but my wife thinks is stupid, and the consensus opinion of humanity would be on the stupid side.
The other day I had a test of my emotional maturity in the area of anger management.
My wife and I are were on a sunny fall-day car drive along the Blue Ridge parkway in North Carolina. The parkway winds it's way along the peaks of the mountains where it provides spectacular views. With several hundred miles of winding twisty turns and numerous tight switchbacks, some on a steep grade, it is a road made for those of us that love riding a motorcycle. For the first twenty miles I was wishing I was riding on two wheels instead of four.
That desire changed pretty quickly because the speed limit is often 35 mph, never more than 45 miles per hour, and there is no passing allowed on the two lane road, a motorcyclist's nightmare
Adding a deceleration factor to any forward motion of the stream of traffic was the fact that the fall colors were at their peak, and the road was packed with Sunday drivers almost all who thought that speed limit really meant limit. Because of that misperception they had decided to drive ten miles an hour less than the posted speed. They traveled at that velocity except when an overlook was approaching where they applied their brakes.
Now one aspect of that genetic defect I mentioned earlier is that I have a heavy foot on the right side, which is the foot positioned over the accelerator. And another part of that defect is that some undiscovered gene causes the males in my family to develop a low-grade version of the chronic condition known as road rage. As a low-grade infection, it is limited to repetitive utterances of a series of four letter words framed around words like idiot, stupid.
I have gotten much better in controlling the onset of this disease because of my anger management training, which is simply a cold, long stare from my wife. It has done wonders over the past few years in almost curing me of this chronic condition, but this road was an acid test.
Now the good news is that while traveling along the first hundred miles of this road I passed the test, and the bite marks on my lip were not even bleeding. The bad news is that my test was not over.
After pulling out from one of those beautiful valley overlooks I mentioned previously, I quickly caught up with a long line of cars slowly winding their way north, and soon after, three sport-bike motorcycle riders caught up with me. The lead rider must be a distant relative of mine because he suffered from a lack of patience, and he showed it by riding his cycle less than five feet from my bumper for mile after mile. The impressions of my teeth on my lips were getting deeper every time I looked in the rear view mirror. When I was forced to slow down for the car in front of me, not surprisingly, I felt the tap on the back of my car as the cyclist's front wheel hit my bumper.
The biggest surprise of the day was that I did not blow my top. I kept repeating my "thou shall not kill" mantra and by the next pull off I was really calm. That is, until the cyclist gave me the finger as he went by.