So often as a married man, I am exposed to the emotions of my darling wife. Women either know and disregard, or have no idea just how impactful their ups and downs can be. On one such instance, my wife called me at the office and proceeded to tell me how one of our dearest friends had decided to end their friendship over a religious disagreement. Now I recently heard on the radio, and laughed at the absurd notion that scientists needed a study to confirm this, that when women cry, there is a measurable, repeatable, and verifiable negative reaction in men. A man’s mood is depressed, his happy hormones (dopamine) have decreased production – basically everything in your life sucks whenever your wife is crying.
[hear the men of the world uttering a collective “duuuh”]
So when my wife called me with the astonishing news that one of our dearest friends no longer wanted to be our friend because she had a truly minor umbrage with my wife’s religious views, I was angry and defensive on her behalf. I’m calling this the Silverback Syndrome. You know how it feels, your wife is driving and someone rudely cuts you off… or your waiter talks down to her… (always something fairly trivial in my experience) and your hackles go up in a massively disproportionate way. You fantastize about running the guy off the road and then going back to make sure he was hurt so you could laugh and drive away – that kind of thing. Usually these angry notions never make it past the notion stage. You have them, dismiss them as crazy talk, and then move on with your day.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to police yourself when crazy talk moves on to stage two.
Back to the story… after being regaled between sobs how terrible a thing had been done by our very close friend, I was angry that my wife had to have her heart broken over something utterly trivial (or at all) and since it appeared that the bridge of our friendship had been burned, I decided to write a letter that was for all intents and purposes a giant sign reading “kiss my ass” which I then e-mailed thereby waving from our side of the canyon that now separated us as couples. Or so I understood at the time.
My reasoning: wife was devastated… friendship was over… I was offended as well because I very much liked these friends… therefore notions of defending wife’s honor made it past the crazy talk stage.
It all happens very fast… this kind of thing.
With the hopes that our newly ex-friend would realize how horrible it was to have done such a thing, I composed an e-mail designed to utterly crush any shred of self-worth in said ex-friend and sent it. This was where I passed an opportunity, the importance of which I can’t impress enough when writing angry e-mails, to click ‘discard.’ Rationally, we all know the catharsis comes from actually writing out what we want to say, but rarely do these kinds of decisions end well. As you might expect, this was no exception. You see, the ex-friend responded that they were devastated I would say such things, and that my wife had misunderstood the e-mail… and as it turns out, indeed she had. In one of those incredibly rare instances where the meaning of a paragraph can be transformed by the omission of a single word, my wife’s eyes had repeatedly missed the imperative and operative transforming word and thus began the domino effect of the Silverback Syndrome.
So here it is men: unless your wife is physically threatened, in that case I recommend guns, knives, bats or anything else you can find, beware the Silverback within you. While quite strong, and capable of much destruction, the Silverback Gorilla is not known for its particularly large brain.
Beware the Silverback. I don’t know of a single person who ever made a decision having exercised intelligence, patience, and restraint, who later regretted their decision.