Anger is a funny thing. Not ‘funny ha-ha’, so much as ‘funny hey, what are you doing with that baseball bat and why did you turn the music up so loud?’ Which is ‘ha-ha’ for one person involved, perhaps — but not both.
The tricky thing about anger is that it tends to make you forget things. Most of us have come up for air in the middle of a really good, lathered-up tirade, and realized that we’ve forgotten why we were angry in the first place. Or forgotten our manners, and screamed toehair-curling obscenities at full throat in a public place, like a library or wedding or job interview. Or even forgotten our survival instincts, and torn into the guy with the gun and handcuffs and pretty uniform. These things happen.
“Most of the names bandied about at this stage won’t even make sense — what is a ‘cockholegrubber’, anyway? Can ‘rimjob’ really be used a proper noun?”
The first thing that seems to slip our enraged minds, though, is the name of the person whose new asshole we’re busy ripping. This can be rather inconvenient. Not just because it’s rude to forget someone’s name — we’re well past ‘rude’ at this point, and charting waters like ‘apoplectic’ and ‘belligerent’; it’s more that you don’t want any confusion remaining as to who’s receiving the tongue-lashing. Working up a good froth is hard work; heaven forbid you should have to do it again, because the jackhole you’re berating ‘thought you were talking the other guy’.
As the beratee, however, this no-name-dropping can come in pretty handy. I know this from experience, of course, having been chewed out on a regular basis. Bosses, family members, coworkers, friends, strangers, nuns, infants, and pets — it doesn’t seem to matter. I just have a knack for making people uncontrollably, vein-poppingly angry. It’s a gift, really. I should have been a telemarketer. Or a politician.
Anyway, through the tirades and browbeatings, I’ve found that there are distinct classes of names used to replace my own. They may forget my real name during a really good profanity-laced diatribe, but they’ve got to call me something, just to make sure I’m still paying attention. Which is good, because I’m usually not. That may be what scientists refer to as ‘part of the problem’.
Here’s a guide to the sorts of things you may be called when you’re in hot water, and how deeply screwed you may be at each stage. Maybe this will help you more than it’s helped me. Certainly, you couldn’t do any worse.
Stage 1: Mildly annoyed
Names you may be called: Skippy, Buddy, Sport, You, Kid, Lady
This is the least serious situation, barely worth the lecture or the middle finger you’re getting. You’ll hear these sorts of names for the most minor transgressions — cutting someone off in traffic, cutting in line at the ATM, copping a quick feel in the coffee shop, that sort of thing.
If, you know, you’re the kind of person who would do such despicable things. I wouldn’t, of course. These are just examples.
But I’ll go to Starbucks with you any time. Just say the word, hot stuff.
Stage 2: Really irked
Names you may be called: Jerk, Bastard, Prick, Retard, Sonuvabitch
This is where you get your common, garden-variety sorts of insults. Mild swearing, sanity-questioning, that sort of thing.
There may be some finger-pointing and palms upturned in the international ‘Why?!‘ gesture, but this is still a fairly slow, gentle burn. It’s the response to maybe eating someone else’s lunch, or raking your leaves into their yard. Most people won’t be willing to spend energy on really interesting, creative names.
Stage 3: Boiling over
Names you may be called: Asshole, Shithead, Imbecile, Abomination, Bitch
This is where Scrabble players and those unafraid to spew filth really start to shine. At this stage of anger, most common epithets have been used, so there are two choices — whip out the thesaurus to get your point across, or start hooking curses together like they were conjunction-junctions. If you should ever find yourself being harangued by someone who’s both foul-mouthed and a logophile, sit back and enjoy the show. The earfuls don’t get any better than that.
Of special note here is ‘bitch’; you’ll get ‘sonuvabitch’ (if you’re a man) far earlier than you’ll hear ‘bitch’ (if you’re a woman). While part of the disparity may be due to a faint sliver of chivalry left in today’s society, I think it has more to do with the fact that women often have sharp claws, and they’ll pull your hair and kick you in places where fast-moving feet don’t belong. So things have to escalate pretty far to get ‘bitch’ on the table.
Stage 4: Thoroughly pissed
Names you may be called: Mothafucka, Dickbag, Assholemunch, Twat, Fuckbugger
Now you’re in trouble. You’ve just keyed your name into the boss’ car, or left a top-shelfer in the ladies’ room at a tea social. You’re a despicable, unbalanced, and probably dangerous individual, someone’s caught you in the act, and now you’re hearing about it. There’s probably a lot of finger-jabbing in the chest going on, maybe some pushing. Punches may have even been thrown — this is heady territory you’re in here.
Most of the names bandied about at this stage won’t even make sense — what is a ‘cockholegrubber’, anyway? Can ‘rimjob’ really be used a proper noun? The worst thing you can possibly do — short of whatever it is you just got finished doing, of course — is to ask these sorts of questions, in the heat of the moment. This is no time for grammatical hairsplitting. Don’t go there. Trust me.
Stage 5: Borderline homocidal
Names you may be called: ‘The C word’, Blllleeearrghh, Sir
Let me clear one thing up quickly. I’m not afraid to use the ‘C’ word, when it’s warranted. Or in the right company. But I have enough horny, angry, twitchy Googlers running around this place without having that indexed on the same page as, say, ‘rimjob’ and ‘toehair-curling’. These are not the hits you’re looking for, young Jedi.
I will say this, from past experience: the most dangerous name on this list — after the worst-insult-I-can-think-of, after the incoherent gurgling sounds — is ‘Sir’. Or ‘Madam’, if you’re a woman. That level of calm, polite formality, on the heels of a howling hissy fit, can mean only one thing:
This person has just figured out a way to get rid of you.
If you’re lucky, it means they’re about to hang up, walk away, or drive off, and be done with you. That works, if you’re not well acquainted with your accoster. But if it’s a friend, coworker, or family member, then it means they’ve finally thought of the perfect place to hide the body. Your body. Run. Run hard and fast, and don’t look back until you’re hundreds of miles away. It’s the only way.
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