By: Atticus Ellis
I met an old friend for drinks one afternoon, ostensibly to ‘catch up’ on the relevant goings-on of our respective lives since our last encounter (the hiatus had been considerable, about a year), but more immediately to give myself an opening to vent against another long-time pal who had just made me a cuckold.
“As you know,” I began, probably before saying so much as a simple hello to the man sitting opposite me, “I had a longstanding acquaintance with that man, but at this point I can hardly call it a friendly one. Was Achilles, to borrow an example, on anything remotely like good terms with Hector? Obviously I don’t expect you to know the answer to that question, since you’re evidently more knowledgeable about Homer Simpson than Homer. Still I can’t help pointing out to you that – yes, yes, even in spite of my smug exterior – that I’m masking a rage that would give even Achilles a real run for his money. And do you know what Achilles did to Hector? No, wait, dumb question – I ought to know you’re quite pitifully ignorant of all this. He killed Hector and dragged his body around the walls of Troy before leaving him to the dogs – German shepherds would be my guess, they seem to have the biggest appetites. Now I’m not saying my own reaction would be so extreme; we’re civilized modern men and we’ve got science and Steven Pinker and Coca-Cola and all those nice things, but none of this changes the fact that I’m still really, really upset.”
“But why?” moaned my friend, who had an exceptionally whiny subtext to his voice (he was really quite melodramatic most of the time, like a marginally more muscular John Keats). “Why do you have to let yourself be so angry?” I don’t recall my exact reply, but it was something to the effect that he, for his part, had never stopped to ask himself why he’d married a crocodile, or whatever subphylum of reptiles his wife belonged to. As I never saw my friend again after that outing, I began to suspect that I might’ve misworded the whole thing, but I hope the point wasn’t lost on him: that one need not seek rational answers for irrational behaviour, even if the implications become painfully clear later on.