When I was in high school, I played a lot of basketball, and if you play a lot of basketball, at some point you will sprain your ankle. The severity of it will vary, but it will happen, as sure as Bowser kidnapping the princess or your job kidnapping your week. When you sprain your ankle, you basically have two options. You can come in crutches, trotting along mechanically while people feign interest, or you can sack up and just limp.
I was the kind to walk with a limp. I’d mummify my ankle in tape, then proceed to swing it forward like my torso was holding a golf club. I thought I was being brave. Doing the guy thing. Yet sometimes, when you choose the path of the limper, it looks like you’re doing this on purpose – trying to walk with swag. Like your average Congressman, I blame the rap videos. Nevertheless, I became a victim of this association, one day after I suffered a serious sprain.
There I was, hobbling to my locker, when another kid swerved around and cut me off like an angry motorist. At first, I thought nothing of it. I mean, I wasn’t even old enough to drive, let alone use it as an analogy. In fact, I still didn’t get it when the kid started to do an exaggerated pimp walk, flashing a few gang signs to his female friend giggling beside him. Slow as I was, physically and mentally, it took me a whole nother minute to realize he was mocking me.
By then, the moment had passed. It was too late to get even. I could only get mad.
This is how petty I am. If I could go back in time, one of the first things I would do is tell this fucker I sprained my ankle. It wouldn’t be the only thing as I am not a complete moron, but things of this nature would be first in line as opposed to buying stocks and stopping 9/11. Instead, I would go back to that autumn day in Millbrae, tap this dude on the shoulder and say something like Hey, I know you’re trying to impress your girl, but I am not trying to be like the young kids with the gangsta walk. I sprained my ankle playing basketball. Then me and his girlfriend would proceed to make out while he buried his face in a puddle of shame.
There’s just one problem with this scenario. I would have one less thing to be angry about.
You don’t have to be an angry person to write an angry character, but you do have to know what it’s like to be angry. Otherwise it just loses that authenticity. When you first meet Puck and he asks you Have you ever hated someone so much, you just want to bite off his eyes? That sentence was born out of real, unmitigated anger. If I were to write that opening sentence now, he probably would say something generic like I just want to punch his face.
The difference between the two is why it’s important for someone like myself, who has nothing to be bitter about, to collect these moments like so many rare Pokemon. Acrimony. Loathing. Spite. I save them all in my little memory cabinet because I want to remind myself what it feels like. If I find an incendiary troll post, the first thing I do is rage, and if my rage is strong enough, I immediately bookmark the page for later use. Yet even without the bookmark, I would probably remember. Shit, I need to remember. In a sense, it’s almost a form of method writing. If I want Puck to be a mass of unadulterated anger, I can’t let that emotion be a stranger.
They say don’t get mad, get even, but I don’t know. Personally, it would be incredibly satisfying to get even, but from an artistic standpoint, I don’t see a problem with getting a little mad.