Fate never seems to set things up kindly for me. All I wanted to do this afternoon was cut up a green pepper to put in my salad for lunch. That was all, a minor wish. It seemed so simple, but given the lack of counter space in my relatively tiny apartment, cutting that pepper turned out to require a Herculean effort, as though it was one of his labors, like when he had to kidnap the dog from Hell or clean the poopy stables in a day. Cutting the pepper on my microscopic kitchen counter space was going to be difficult to that extent. Besides, how hard is it to kidnap a dog? Ain’t you heard of Snausages, Hercules?
Let’s get back to the pepper. First, Fate had the plate slide off the counter and into the sink. The bottom of my sink is no place any food should visit; it’s a foul netherworld coated in bacteria, the e-coli virus, and the slug-like alien parasites from the movie “Slither.” Luckily, no parts of the pepper made contact with any of that. As I brought the plate back to the counter, Fate caused me to accidentally nudge the knife, sending it falling, point down, towards my foot. I danced out the way, nimble as I am. However, moving away from the knife caused the plate to somehow descend from the countertop itself, exploding upon impact with the floor like an egg or a cell phone. Glass and pepper flew everywhere.
“Motherfucker!!!” I shouted at the top of my lungs. “God Damn fucking bastard!”
I suppose I was referring to Fate, though I’m not sure. Maybe I was randomly talking about my father. Who can say? The point is, I was, for 15 seconds, insanely mad about this. My mind was overtaken by absolute rage, all because a stupid plate with a pepper on it fell and broke on the floor. I took a deep breath and tried to settle myself. My face was red and I felt embarrassed, wondering if anyone had heard me. I was thankful that I don’t have any kids. I could imagine them shaking with fear in the corners of the bedroom.
“What happened to Daddy?” they’d cry, cowering. “It must be something serious.”
“Well,” their mother would say, “he dropped a plate on the floor.”
“He dropped a plate on the floor? Is that it?”
“Yes. Bear in mind, it had the pepper for his salad on it.”
My kids would exchange glances. “If there’s nothing else, it would be safe for us to come out of the corner now, right?”
“Absolutely, darlings. Just be sure to stay close by it later when Daddy starts making dinner.”
They would think their father was a madman. Why had I gone so berserk over something so insignificant? It reminded me of an incident that happened to my friend Mary. I was standing in the hallway at school one day when she came out of the bathroom looking shaken.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” she said. “I rolled my sleeves up to wash my hands, but when I put my hands in the water, my sleeve came down and it got all wet.” She showed me the wet sleeve. “I blew up. I did. I don’t know why. I totally went off. I screamed. I went ‘Aggghhhhh!!!!’”
“Perfectly understandable reaction,” I said earnestly.
She shook her head. “I was so furious I could’ve killed somebody. Seriously. If there was somebody in there with me, I would’ve killed that person.”
I thought of Mary’s wet-sleeve incident as I swept up the plate and threw it away. The anger and frustration she felt over getting her sleeve wet was something I could completely empathize with. I gathered the pieces of cut up pepper from off the floor too, but decided I’d be damned if I was going to throw that away as well.
If I did, the World would win.
“Fuck the World,” I said. “I’m washing off this pepper and eating it. I don’t give a shit if there’s bits of glass in it. I will eat that glass. Fuck Fate in its face.”
And eat the glassy pepper I did. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was good, but it was worth it. Feeling the crunch of glass in my teeth as I chewed, I couldn’t help but smile.
I had, for that little moment, conquered Fate. The Greek Gods would’ve been proud, I think.
(This is the first part of a deeper two-part piece. It is to be continued, unless a few bits of glass cut my throat and I die in my sleep. In that case, I suppose the obit would complete this epic saga.)