High Dudgeon. It’s a great word. It is also useful to be in high dudgeon. Greta Thunberg, the sixteen year old Swedish climate activist was also in high dudgeon this week when she spoke at a UN conference. She looked characteristically offended and cast her withering gaze upon those causing offence. They thought it was endlessly clever and she was written up in all the papers, the talk of the chattering class. It’s useful to be offended. It means you can get you what you want, via the short cut.
Still, people don’t generally end up in high dudgeon on purpose. It is usually just a side-effect of being alive and living in the world. There are plenty of things that can set you off. I know when I drive, I can say a lot of things I hope are never recorded. I yell at the driver in front of me that he must have gotten his license from the back of a cereal box. I may not be far off the truth. An Indian lady I worked with told me that NOBODY from India has a real driver’s test. That would be dumb. If you go there and take the test, they will fail you until you pay off the officials with the proper bribe. Then you will get your license automatically. You don’t even have to go for the test, which is how most people end up. Just pay the bribe and get your license with no sweat at all. It explains Brampton, that is for sure, and their insurance rates to boot.
I drove my daughter to the airport this morning at five AM to visit her sister in another province. Having had little sleep, the entire family was in high dudgeon. I am not sure how it became a matter of opinion whether a piece of luggage stuffed to the gills can qualify as a carry-on. A simple visit to the scales will sort that one out. Still, there was a lot of shouting and high tempers, stress falling off all round. It may resemble a lot of peoples’ family life, you know the place where you just let it all hang out. Truth be told, most people would get a passing grade OUTSIDE of the family home, but what can get said inside is another matter. I know. I live with a family of all women except for me and they tend to say what they feel, up front. My wife can positively roast my hide over something and have forgotten about it the next morning.
“Why are you looking at me that way? Oh… was it what I said last night? Ha ha, don’t worry I was just letting off steam. What I said was true but I may have been a little harsh”….
Say what you mean, mean what you say could be the thing in life that rarely matches up. Usually people say thoughtless things, because they didn’t really think about it and their mouth preceded their brain. I know. My mouth can get ahead of me. Over fifty, I can get into high dudgeon pretty fast, enough that my daughters can all give a pretty good imitation of me, except perhaps for the red face.
Saying things that are mostly not true may be a questionable way to proceed through life. Still, it gives me pause. I suspect that most things people really feel deeply about, get more guarded as time goes on. You hold your cards close to your chest with the real goods.
I can easily solve the puzzle women of a certain age come up with. “He doesn’t say ‘I love you’ as much anymore”… why?
It’s likely because the things that really matter, the things that deeply affect our emotions are hard to talk about. They don’t roll glibly off the tongue. I can see it when my daughters watch Bachelor on TV. You can spot the posers right away, and newsflash, they are mostly all posers. It’s the men who cry and talk about “their journey” and their feelings just way too much. Most telltale sign of someone who has little deep feelings at all, except perhaps for himself.
You can see how they soon act, and it gives them away. Crying becomes less effective as a tool as you wear it out. Ask the little boy who cried wolf. It’s the same way with personal feelings, best shared with few, and given little air. You can really tell in the end, by how someone acts.
I can think of my mother in this instance. One of those mind-to-mouth people that activists like to complain about. The only thing, is that up close it can look a little different. It’s the old adage about being stranded on a highway and a Conservative and a Liberal ride by. The Liberal gets offended. Someone should do something, really. The conservative likely won’t think about it, but likely will also stop. It’s putting your money where your mouth is, also known as walking the talk.
My mother had way too many theoretical opinions on politics and yet could not bear to be unkind to anybody up-close. She had many acts of charity over a lifetime, many of them secret, to guard the dignity of the recipient. Feelings were restrained when it came to the very deep things, because life is complex. The things people think deeply and personally, are the last things you will hear about.
High dudgeon. I will dust it off as necessary. What I really think? Just watch me. The things I feel deeply about, will get little air. As life rolls along, you learn about the cost of love, up close and it will not roll off your tongue as easily as a young man. Ask anybody who ever did a renewal of vows for a wedding. Chances are they will say little but cry a lot when they look at each other and repeat ancient vows that bring back a lot of memories.
Love is messy. No wonder God had to get involved. High dudgeon, is fortunately VERY HUMAN, and one of the things God will eventually weed out of that messy patch of garden known as the human race.