Rendered Fat Content

OtterSummer 8.37-Chip

I remember when my big sister turned about thirteen, she developed a disfiguring chip on her shoulder. As if she carried the weight of the world there, she seemed to hang on the edge of complete exasperation. The smallest provocation could set her into a screaming fit. Of course, I considered it my special purpose to test the lower limits of her extreme sensitivity. Little picky stuff rarely ended me in hot water, but pretty reliably produced an entertaining, if brief fireworks display.

I’m pretty certain that the world doesn’t owe The Grand Otter a living, and the vast majority of the slights she’s experienced have been inadvertent ones, but she can be quite the powder keg when riled, and her fuse seems short. Perhaps, as my big sister demonstrated so well, it just comes with adolescence.

Someone who can easily spend two hours meticulously gussying up for an outing could, it seems to this humbled observer, take a minute on the way out to flick off that chip. It sends a conflicting message from someone so well put out to seem so endlessly put out about everything.

I hear it in my voice sometimes, too, though. That barely audible grrrr that says I’m holding a grudge. That dismissive pfffft that discloses that I’m not even interested in listening, let alone hearing what anyone else says. That pseudo-superior okaaaaay that clearly communicates that I’ve just flipped the Bozo bit on you. These come as close to disfigurement as most ever need to get.

And others can smell it on me, and they sure don’t want to be around me when my resentment’s showing like a roll of belly fat escaping the spandex below my tee shirt. Of course I can’t read the tee shirt that everyone else clearly sees. It might as well scream, “Poison,” for all the good it does me.

My first wife’s grandmother, Grandma Nellie, lived into her nineties and I never knew her to say a mean thing about anybody. Widowed in the middle of The Great Depression, she raised two children while teaching in a one room schoolhouse where her responsibilities included janitorial duties. She had a hard enough life to justify no end of bitterness, yet she exuded the very soul of sweetness and civility. I hold her as my personal gold standard for resentment retainment, knowing that my personal aura usually hangs more in the solid aluminum range.

But if I’ve learned anything so far in this life, it might be that resentment only punishes those who hold it. It can’t be passed on to others, and nobody can (or will) take it away from you. It’s a heavy burden, and a wholly unnecessary one. Forgiving trespasses and anyone unfortunate enough to have trespassed against us isn’t just decent advice, it might qualify as a hard requirement. Nobody wants to hang around anybody who hasn’t figured this out. It’s worth an occasional reminder.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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