Psst. Come closer. I have a secret to tell you.
I think mean thoughts.
And not just the regular, run-of-the-mill mean thoughts that most people have (like when you secretly think your friend shouldn't wear that tight sweater because it makes her look pregnant... and she's not). No, I'm talking about really, really mean thoughts.
The other day, Steve and I were having dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant in downtown Seattle. The waitress was annoyingly cheerful and perhaps a little too attentive. I suddenly found myself wondering, What if in the middle of her description of the different desserts, I suddenly reached up and punched her in the nose, hard? Would her eyes water? How long would it take for her face to change from surprise to fury?
When Steve asked me what I was thinking about, I calmly answered, "My hair." This is one of my standard answers for when I'm thinking sick thoughts I don't want him to know about. Other answers that work well are: "The stickiness of my lip gloss" and "What do you think of turquoise as an accent color for the living room?" Any one of these will prompt Steve to change the subject, immediately. Which means my dark little scary thoughts can stay mine.
For my job at the University of Waterloo a couple of years ago, I used to commute from Cambridge every day. It was about 30 kilometers each way, mostly highway driving, and in the mornings and afternoons I had ample time to think about stuff. Like for instance, that cute guy in the black BMW who's coming up fast in the passing lane – what if I cut him off without warning? He'd veer off the 401 for sure. How many times would his car roll in the grass before it stopped?
There were lots of Canada geese on UW's campus grounds and they used to shit all over the pathways leading from the parking lot to the building where I worked (goose poo is the one thing about Canada I do not miss). Some days there was so much shit it was like navigating a mine field. And every once in a while, an ornery three-foot-tall goose would get in my way, squawking at me belligerently, trying to get me to drop my coffee. On more mornings than I'd like to admit, I'd imagine what it would feel like to put down my coffee, wrap my hands around it's skinny little feathered neck, and twist.
Never in a million years would I ever act on any of these dark, awful thoughts, but I do think them. All the time. So I write about them instead. Writing for me is a way to exercise my demons, to act out my fantasies, and to imagine the What Ifs.
If I didn't have this outlet, imagine the criminal I'd be.