How Dare You

When was the last time you got mad? Really mad. So mad that you lost yourself. Lost control, consumed by a primal, feral, powerful fury.

Mine was Saturday the 27th July 2019.

I don’t get truly angry a lot. It’s not my way. I like to think that I’m patient. I’ll get mad about the little things, like not finding jeans in my size or the supermarket running out of my favourite kind of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream, or the big things, like human rights abuses and climate change, but I hate any kind of personal conflict.

This stems from my parents’ divorce. When two people living under the same roof don’t like each other, someone must become the resident diplomat. So, I became their middleman. Reasonable and calm. I didn’t mind it. It suited me actually. It became my purpose in the family. My star sign is Virgo – one of the most characteristically ‘careful’ signs of the zodiac. We like to be ‘harmonious’ too, that is, if you believe in all that horoscope crap.

It made sense to me to keep the peace, I have always been a careful person. For example, when I was five, my mother decided to have a bonfire, so I brought out a bucket of water just in case the fire got out of control. Risk: averted.

But that night, I wasn’t careful. I was angry. Dangerously angry.  So angry I could hardly speak. Done with his shit. Done with everyone’s shit. I put my foot down and showed him the door.

“Get out,” I demanded. Fiercely animal. Hackles raised. Ready to pounce.

An indomitable woman.

I used to train as a dancer at college, which is another reason why I don’t get angry often. They train it out of you. I didn’t get angry at dance college because I couldn’t – it wasn’t allowed. A dancer must be compliant. A dancer must be polite, well trained and able to calmly accept criticism. Upon being told, “That’s not good enough!” a dancer must bow her delicate head, avert her eyes and say nothing.

We were expected to behave like clones. Ballet dancers are feminine and modest not outspoken and fiery. But most of all, we were disciplined to be ladylike. To quote Janette Winterson in ‘Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit’, they expected us to be “serene to the point of being bovine”. When I quit dance college, I didn’t get angry, even when my dance teacher called me “unreliable” and “disappointing”. I didn’t let her see me cry. I just said sorry and left.

But back to the story. Last year on Saturday the 27th July, I went on a date. This was not unusual for me; in 2019, I went on a lot of dates.  None of them good. It was our third or fourth date? I don’t remember. Perhaps he thought this was the date he’d finally get lucky. Fat chance. I didn’t even really like him.

We’d had a lot of tequila that night and we ended up in a big group of mutual friends. Somehow, I ended up going home for another drink with not only my date, but also a friend I’d been seeing on and off at the time. In sobriety, I would’ve realised being alone with two potential love interests who were in their early twenties and high on testosterone was a terrible idea. But at the time, it seemed harmless enough; we’d had a great night so far and we were all friends, weren’t we?

My friend, the guy I’d gone on the date with and I came crashing into my home at 3am, laughing hysterically. Gleeful in our intoxication, we’d clearly found the taxi ride to my house to be unparalleled in its hilarity.

“More wine?” I sloppily suggested.

Unbeknownst to me, while I was simply high on life and rather a lot of gin, they had both taken a significant amount of cocaine. And like a lamb to the slaughter, I had willingly walked the white-snouted wolves straight through my front door.

I left to fetch the wine and came back to find them both… shirtless?

‘What is going on?’ I thought. I hoped they didn’t think we were going to have a threesome. God, this was turning into a nightmare. It turned out my new beau and old flame were swigging from a bottle of vodka and having a heart-to-heart.

“Seriously though bro, no actually man like, I respect you so much dude.”

You know, the kind of bullshit drunk conversations that neither one of them remembered.

Later, the guy I was ‘dating’ went to the loo and in a drunken stupor, perhaps simply craving the familiarity and validation that only a past lover can provide, my friend kissed me and I kissed him back. It was a drunken mistake and I’m pretty sure I was sick afterwards because I’d drunk so much. It was not my finest moment.

My date came back and the drugs he’d taken had made him angry. I think he knew that whilst he was gone, I’d kissed someone else. So, he got violent.

At this point it was 5am and I was pleading with him to calm down.

“It’s time we all go to sleep,” I said “Please, you can crash on the sofa, I have work tomorrow.”

He refused. My efforts to pacify him failed, and as he caught sight of my friend, his anger only grew. He wouldn’t go to sleep, so I asked him to leave. He wouldn’t go, so I went upstairs to try to escape him, half carrying, half dragging my drunken friend.

“He needs to go to sleep, so I’m putting him to bed,” I told my date frankly.

“No,” my date said.

He advanced threateningly towards us, crashing into a wall as he went and smashing one of my photo frames.  He was screaming angrily at my friend who was beyond coherence at this point. He started manhandling him and swearing at him.

“Stand the fuck up man,” he shouted

“W-what bro?” my friend slurred, clearly muddled “Y-yo, I d-don’t want to fight you man,”

“That’s bullshit,” he screamed “Get up and fight me like a man!”

He started hauling my friend’s limp body upright, pulling him out of my arms and pushing him up against my bookshelf. I remember pleading with him.

“Please, no! You’ve had too much to drink, this isn’t like you!”

 I was begging him to stop, clawing desperately at his strong arms as he readied himself to throw the first punch.

“Stop, please,” I pled as in a last-ditch attempt, I grabbed his arm with all my might.

He ignored my words and pushed me aside. My bookcase shook. My friend, whom I adore, was defenceless, seconds from being beaten up. And then I saw only rage.

“How dare you!” I shouted; my voice rung clearly through the house.

Authority was evident in the sound and even though I was the shortest of the three of us, suddenly I was the tallest person in the room. Angry Boy stopped, still pinning my friend to the bookshelf. His drug-addled eyes turned to me. He was twice my size. I no longer cared.

“Take. Your. Hands. Off. Him.”

Miraculously, he did.

“How dare you come to my house and throw your weight around!  Disrespecting me, disrespecting my home. Your behaviour is unacceptable, and you should be ashamed of yourself!”

Our roles had reversed. I had him up against the wall and I was the one shouting now.

“I want you to take your things and get the hell out of my fucking house!” I demanded menacingly.

Without a word he left the room.

My friend went to follow but I gently yet firmly placed my hands on his chest. I told him that if he trusted me then he should sit back down and to let me handle this. Nodding, he obeyed.

My date meanwhile was downstairs pacing and swearing and muttering to himself like he was deranged. I stood at the top the stairs and made sure he left. The second he shut the door, I ran downstairs and locked it. I double checked all the doors and windows, making sure they were all sealed so that he couldn’t get back in. It wasn’t until the final door was locked and I was sure that we’re safe that I began to cry. As the anger left me the fear that it had overshadowed rose up in its absence. Shakily my legs gave up. I felt small again. I hadn’t realised how vulnerable we were. My friend came down the stairs and held me as I wept.

The next morning, I brought him a cup of tea in bed. “Sorry, I only have soya milk,” I said

“That’s okay,” he replied.

He didn’t remember last night, so I told him the story. Jokingly he called me a “brave centurion” and his “fearless protector”.  I’m not a brave person but I guess when someone you love is threatened, you can do brave things. True anger can make you behave in ways you never thought possible and do things you never thought you could.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. But a woman who’s loved one’s are threatened? She becomes as furious as Hell’s most powerful demons, tenfold.

And don’t you dare make the fundamental mistake of galvanising the fury of a woman who writes.

Because she has the mightiest weapon of all: a pen.

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