I had almost swallowed the bite in my mouth when his hand swept in a broad arc across the table. The backside of that hand struck me in the face, knocking me backward in the chair, into the floor, the force rolling me out of the chair.
That sort of thing happened often enough I wasn’t all that surprised. So the lingering emotions don’t really attach too strongly to the physical abuse itself, but a peripheral issue. The taste in my mouth was hamburger steak overly seasoned with garlic (and a little overcooked, too). It was a frequent dish in our household long past my departure. I had come to hate that taste already, and smothered in ketchup it still came through. In essence, my parents seemed to take offense at the very notion I wouldn’t love that taste. The backhanded blow was most likely yet another attempt to enforce the idea I must love that taste, or more such punishment would follow.
Today, I hate the taste of garlic on hamburger patties. Mixed Italian seasoning would be fine, but simply adding garlic by itself (okay, with black pepper and salt) triggers the powerful emotions of a young child beaten hatefully by a father who didn’t allow independent thought.
As I said, it’s not the abuse, but the feelings attach themselves to the taste. I get viscerally angry when it encounter it again. But I don’t lash out; I can’t.
Indeed, I am one who tends to feel a pretty murderous hatred for those who feel a murderous hatred toward “abusive parents”. That is, while I don’t defend the abuse, I do defend the person as a human deserving of some consideration as to what makes them act stupid. I am fully aware of how things in our past can build into our personalities truly insane maladjusted behaviors. You have no idea what those people went through, so you can’t judge without pointing even more fingers back at yourself.
In other words, the single greatest social irritation sticking in my craw is rush to judgment and the shallow thinking which causes it.
So when we have, say, the FBI investigate someone who posts a sarcastic message about the President, expressing the wish he might die in some unpleasant fashion, I become viscerally angry. What sort of reading comprehension problem do we have here? What sort of truculent, evil stupidity would bring them to that man’s door? This isn’t simple ignorance, but a malicious determination to be so utterly stupid they are an insult to the dirt on which they tread. If this is how our federal protectors act — God help us! We are doomed. The Keystone Kops could commit terrorist acts and such an FBI would fail to stop them.
That’s the sort of thing which makes me taste burnt garlic burgers again.