I had lunch with Main Lady today and provided a captive audience for a lecture she's giving later on. For those who don't know, don't remember or don't care, Main Lady is a licensed clinical psychologist with a measurable success rate – a very unusual combination. After we were seated and happily nursing our drinks (mine was diet coke, as I neither wanted nor needed a lecture about drinking before the sun is over the yard arm), Main Lady started her lecture.
“Are you paying attention?” Main Lady asked rhetorically.
“Of course, my dear. I'm always paying attention to you. It's just that my mind tends to wander when I hear you rattling on and on about some kind of liberal stable dressing - ”
“Jack, come to heel.”
“Why don't you wait until the waitress takes our order.” I suggested helpfully.
Which the waitress did, and promptly screwed up. I put the mistake to rights and sat back in my very best 'ready to receive lecture' pose. This is what I was able to glean.
Imagine that you have a clear glass jar in front of you with mixed dried beans in it. About eleven different kinds of dried beans in equal amounts fill a third (or more) of the jar. These beans represent your propensity to develop a mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disease. When the beans spill out the top of the jar, you have become mentally ill. Got it?
Now then. Imagine you have a large pile of big, fat Lima beans in front of you. Each Lima bean is a stress event, meaning that it's something that happens to you that causes stress. So if I drop one Lima bean into the jar, I've caused stress. Cause enough stress and the jar will fill up with Lima beans, and eventually you'll become mentally ill.
Stress events happen to us every day. (At this point I thought about Beat and Release, Momma Fargo, Older School, Graveyard Dog and a host of others. I decided not to argue about stress. I am, after all, not all that dumb.) Imagine you're a cave man (Hey! No problem! Just let me go shoot something for dinner, then come home to the cave for a little quality time.) Stop interrupting. Imagine you're a cave man and you are menaced by a tiger. The menacing causes stress, so you have to deal with the problem, but you also have the additional problem of environment. You don't have a big game rifle, so you must hide from the tiger, or find another way of dealing with it. In another case we may get stressed out over traffic, and shooting the other driver wouldn't relieve our stress. (It is at this point that I do myself a mischief trying to keep quiet.) We have to find another way of dealing with it.
Getting back to the jar of beans, I'll put a lid on the jar, and the lid is full of little holes. (All of which are .110 inches in diameter – coincidentally, the size of number six shot.) The holes are large enough to allow mixed beans to enter the jar, but are too small to allow Lima beans – our stress beans – to pass through. This lid is called a stress barrier. For instance, if a man's wife dies we might have a man who has no one to help him through this crises, and so sits at home by himself trying to deal with the stress. He has no barrier, so the Lima beans get into his jar and start building up to a mental illness. Then there's the man whose wife dies, but who has a large circle of friends to help him, who belongs to a Church or various other organizations that will help him out. That's his lid for his jar, and it keeps the jar from overflowing. (Then there's the third option – the man who, upon learning of his dear wife's demise, gives a cartoon like woo-hoo! and books a SCUBA diving vacation in Belize.)
The point is that if you don't have a lid for your jar, either get one or go nuts. See?
I haven't asked the obvious questions. Like, for instance, what do you do when some moron kicks the lid off your twelve ounce jar and tips a fifty-five gallon drum of Lima beans into it. Or what to do when a resident turkey, possibly not terribly bright, steals your lid and hides it in the name of fun and games at the office. These things happen.
I write this little exercise in futility because I am under stress, and I have no lid in sight. I'm convinced that the ignorant knucklehead behind me would stop tailgating if I flattened one or more of his tires with a .45, but I'm not convinced that the local constabulary would consider that action a justifiable use of potentially deadly force, and somehow that just isn't quite right – the jerk threatens me with his SUV and he (or she, soccer-moms love to tailgate) has no fear of reprisal. I'm reminded of something that happened to Momma Fargo recently involving two assholes and a fishing boat that was blocking her driveway. When asked to move their rig, one asshole decided to get mouthy and the other provided tacit approval. Momma Fargo suggested a practical solution could begin by Momma putting two shots into the hull as a warning, and that solution appealed to me. It still appeals to me, maybe a little more than usual. These two bar flies could have apologized profusely, moved the boat and offered a fish dinner by way of compensation, but they didn't. They wanted to get mouthy instead. Two shots of the forty caliber brand later and they'd be moving the rig and changing their pants. Serve them right.
One way or another, we've got too much law and order in our society. This causes stress. Now, who the hell stole the cork to my bottle?