Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Barometer of Tension

Over the 4th weekend I did something I wish I have done a lot more frequently and that is to go play golf with my dad. The experience, however, wasn't a peaceful day on the links but instead was a five marathon of pure tension.

This tension wasn't caused by my dad, myself, or the way I was hitting the ball. Instead, this tension was created by the two people that we were paired up to golf with. I'm awful with age but I'd say they were late 20's early 30's and one of them was the splitting image of the idea of an angry golfer. Right off the first tee  he hit two shots that hooked far left and the classic "slam the club into the ground to prove a point" routine was used. After that my level of alert raised to maximum.

The holes slowly went by and there were more club slams, throws, and angry words and with each outburst I felt it more. In my writings and presentations I state, "I'm not a good judge if you're happy, sad, mad, bored" but raging is something I can pick up on. Secondly, and others on the spectrum and their families have told me this which also happens to be my story, I am a barometer of the environment. When there's a possibility of anger I seem to sense it. If there's any hint of passive aggressiveness I also pick up on that, but there was nothing passive about this situation unfolding on the fairways, and rough, of this golf course.

When I say barometer you may be wondering what that means as well as saying that I pick up on it. This means I can sense that something is wrong. Sense emotions are hard to understand and my body has a need to know everything that is about to happen this means that my body has to overcompensate and prepare for the worst. On that golf course I was prepared for many things; in my mind is was within the realm of possibility that this golfer could get angry and start attacking everyone. Rational? Probably not, but my body's defenses have to fill in the blanks that most people understand.

The pace of play was slow and this guy kept getting worse and worse. His friend wasn't much better but didn't have the club throw or anger technique his friend had. Once we were halfway through I had a few minutes in the cart with just my dad and I and that was all that I wanted. I didn't want a day filled with fearing verbal outbursts. I didn't want a day in which I was afraid to even speak so as to not even risk angering a person. All of those elements made it to where I had severe positional warfare and couldn't even make eye to person contact (that would be eye contact within a box around a person).

On the 15th hole the anger got the worst of him. He hit a bad shot after bad shot and on the approach to the green which has a big ravine in the middle he shanked it right in the face of the upslope so he went full throttle down the hill and then tried to go up the 60 degree incline. A golf cart being top heavy and having a small amount of power was no match for the hill. The cart stalled out and started to tip to one side which through the angry golfer's friend out the side then the cart's rear tire rolled over the friend. It was an alarming sight, but the friend got up and didn't appear to be even the slightest bit angry with his so called friend.

Now I was in a full state of red alert. What I had predicted, that being that he would lose all control, happened what was next? My internal barometer was now showing that a category five hurricane was coming ashore and yet there were no outwardly signs that there was outward anger.

The friend that got ran over was in pain and he quit golfing, then at the end of the next hole he started to cough and I'm pretty sure there was blood so the angry golfer said, "Well, I've hit enough bad shots today, I quit" and they left and finally there was peace. I told my dad about the fear and anxiety I had been experiencing and he was oblivious to the tension I felt.

I've always been a barometer and in school this was one of the more tiring aspects; trying to stay up on who was about to be angry at who. I had to stay apprised, I had to know, I had to prepare. Not being able to read the social cues, as I mentioned, makes me fill in the blanks and most of the times I fill them in with going too far. Was this angry golfer going to attack someone? Probably not, but could it have happened? That's what having this barometer does and most of the time the storms that are predicted don't occur, but should they occur I'll be prepared.

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