I Empathize with the Imp.




Game of Thrones delivered up another blog-worthy scene in its most recent episode.  The manipulative and compassionate “Imp” let fly a raging rant against, well, pretty much everyone — 

I saved you. I saved this city. All your worthless lives. I should’ve let Stannis kill you all. Yes, father. I’m guilty. Guilty. Is that what you want to hear? No, of that I’m innocent. I’m guilty of a far more monstrous crime. I’m guilty of being a dwarf. Oh? Yes I am. I’ve been on trial for that my ENTIRE LIFE! I did not do it. I did NOT KILL JOFFREY BUT I WISH THAT I HAD! Watching your vicious bastard die gave me more relief than a thousand lying whores! I wish I was the monster you think I am. I wish I had enough poison for the whole pack of you. I would gladly give my life to watch you all swallow it. I will NOT give my life for Joffrey’s murder, and I know I’ll get no justice here so I will let the Gods decide my fate. I demand trial by combat!

I know how he feels.

Not the unappreciated city-saving part, the scornful father part, nor the years of persecution part.  Just the diffuse anger and rage part.  The reason for my own, current anger management problem is admittedly not the stuff of an HBO episodic series.  Nevertheless, when I saw Peter Dinklage’s character go off on this psychotic bender the other night, I saw myself.

Some sort of virus or another has been having its way with me for about a week or so.  This truth is of course heavy with irony, given that I’ve written so dismissively of Slapped Cheek, Meningitis, Chicken Pox, and the rest.  Turns out those bad boys don’t take well to being openly mocked on a WordPress blog.  My bad. 

How could I have been knocked sideways by something so random, something that more than likely found its way to me via a sick child?  Or more specifically, cough droplets from a sick child that ended up transferred over to me?  My kids haven’t been sick in weeks; maybe months.  I don’t work in an office.  I am outside in the fresh air constantly, never cooped up on a MUNI bus eyeing my warm grip on a germ-slathered strap-hanger’s pole. How in the world did I end up on the wrong side of the game of virus roulette?

Yep, whatever locked on to me has a vicious sense of irony.

My risky behavior, my undoing — and here comes the second dose of irony — was most likely Little League baseball.  More specifically, my Norman Rockwellian insistence on post-game hand shakes and high-fives has come home to roost, apparently.

Let’s do the math:  First, each of my Little League teams is comprised of 12 boys.  That’s 24 potential Typhoid Marys whose hands I grip, slap, or bump in a closed fist at least three times each week.  That’s 72 weekly roles of the dice right there, at minimum.  And I should probably add in a multiple here, seeing’s how the high fives are rarely a one-time thing.  I’ll connect hands with my players, each of them, probably several times during each practice, each game.  I’ve even, gasp, encouraged my younger team to hold a high-five contest with their teammates, in a contrived attempt to gin up some good sportsmanship on our own team.  And yes, I myself have participated in said contest(s), racking up points for each hand slap in a loud voice!  Bragging about it, even — “One! Two! Twelve!  Fifty Seven!”  

Oh the hubris

That hubris probably gets me 500 rolls of the viral dice weekly, and that’s just from my own guys.  Add in all the games we’ve played over the past couple weeks, and the exposure potential balloons exponentially.  I count approximately seven to ten games within my “catch and incubate” window.  Now we’re up to thousands of little hands, unknowingly passing a small infectious agent around that will ultimately set up shop in me.  

And of course, I write regularly about how much I swim, run, ride, yada yada.  Look at me, such a physical specimen! Well, my immune system has evidently been feeling the strain of trying to jam that extra mileage into an aging body so as to survive the upcoming Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon.  I suppose this marks the third heavy dose of irony here. That small infectious agent had me and my shaved legs in its little viral cross hairs, just rubbing its fuzzy little infectious claws together, hardly able to contain his excitement at the prospect of tossing me around for a week or so, slamming me cartoonishly from one side of the ring floor to another.  Bam! Wham! Bam! 

The chronic and barely manageable pain in my head, neck, shoulder and chest over the past week has not brought out the best in me.  Particularly by the end of the day, when my neck has had enough of supporting my head all day, when my shoulder wants to remind me that I’m not supposed to be throwing batting practice or hitting ground balls, when a pedestrian sneeze feels like a battering ram to my chest, I become a Monster of Impian Proportions.

I rail against whomever thought that “Horsehead Kid and baseball into the ump’s nuts” Giants television commercial is a good idea.  I have wished that person dead, aloud, from a prone position on my living room floor, head propped up with a boiling heating pad, popping Advil from the plastic pill container always within arm’s reach.  

I caught myself spitting venom, almost literally (the spitting part for sure), when the Giants’ young shortstop Ehire Adrianza struck out looking, leaving the bat on his shoulder.  Pop another Advil.  

My wife and children, even my dog, now step warily around me.  Avoiding direct eye contact (not just the dog).  Steering clear of anything even remotely resembling a provocative comment.  Quickly leaving the room in a jog, high-stepping from their heels with a nervous giggle if the Monster begins to gurgle up some sort of bile-laden rant.  Same technique used when walking by a frothing, growling Doberman behind a fence.  “Tee hee hee, nice doggie,” while stage-marching it the hell away from there.  

The cute little birds in our neighborhood, protecting their cute little babies in their cute little nests?  When they wing themselves in my direction while out for a dog-walk, I grind my teeth and imagine them all vaporized.  Neighborhood lore has it that a neighbor once ended an unreasonably loud crow with an expert pluck of the crossbow.  I want a crossbow, and I want it now.  Now, I said!

Yeah, it’s been like that.  

I should probably apologize to everyone with whom I’ve had any contact of any kind over the past 7 days.  On the other hand, I think I have a couple days left with this.  A few more days of swinging my wrecking ball with abandon.  Hulk SMASH! Probably best to wait until the full extent of my pain-induced frenzy has run its course.  Free of my tiny infectious tormentor, I can then lift  my head among the smoldering ruins, survey the damage, do a quick head count, and begin the business of apologizing. 

Until then, I empathize with the Imp. 

Thanks for reading. 

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