”Don’t Get So Mad,” which Jeffrey Osborne wrote with fellow veteran Michael Sembello and someone named Don Freeman (by the by, there’s a bangin’ live rendition up on You Tube), should be one of the 10 commandments of love. It spells out an all-too-familiar image we’ve seen illustrated at a club or maybe over at someone’s crib, sometimes right out on a sidewalk. It’s a scenario that can and regularly does take even the classiest of individuals and reduce him or her to acting as common as trash on the street.
A man is standing there, face all twisted worse than a pretzel, yelling at his date, woman, wife, what have you. Or a woman is pitching an unholy fit, screaming in his face. It’s even possible they’re giving it to each other back and forth.
You don’t have to be able to make out a single word to take a pretty good guess what it’s about: that age-old, green-eyed monster jealousy. He’s hot under the collar because she smiled too sweetly or chatted too long with some cat who looks like Idris Elba. Or he was being a bit too chivalrous with a babe who’d give Beyoncé a run for her money.
Odds are there was an innocuous interaction that got read the wrong way. Next thing you know, what started out as a nice time for these two has turned sour, ruining both their nights and providing a most unexpected point of interest for onlookers who — if they aren’t already texting all over creation — can’t wait to tell the tale tomorrow to any and everybody who’ll stand still and listen.
Osborne sagely counsels, ”You should learn to control your feelings, respectively. All this arguin’ in public is embarrassing.” And he’s right. If you really feel you have a legitimate beef coming, fine. Sit on it ’til you get home if you don’t live together (and maybe there’s a good reason why). At least wait ‘til you’re behind closed doors at whichever’s place.
There’s a time and place for everything in a relationship, even a time and place to get ugly with each other. But right in the middle of having fun is not that time. And, for God’s sake, right in the middle of everybody else is not the place.
As an aside, you know what cracks me up about couples like this? If an onlooker tries to be a good Samaritan and says, ”Take it easy, calm down,” either one of these two is liable to retort, ”Mind your business.”
You kidding? You just made your business the business of everyone within earshot who’s trying to have a nice time while you’re showing your behind.
Black socializing is not for the insecure. We often flirt with each other merely as second nature and don’t mean a single thing by it. That’s just the way many of us are put together; we enjoy attention from the opposite sex simply as a part of being alive.
It doesn’t send any sort of message that we’re not happy with who we have. Not to someone who isn’t looking for that message to begin with. If you can’t tell the difference between whether your man or woman is cheating on you right in front of your eyes or if they’re just being friendly, maybe you should take a college course. It’ll tell you things like:
a) Who did he or she come with? Who are they planning to go home with? You pulling an idiotic stunt like this is a perfect way to make sure it won’t be with you;
b) If you are sure you’re being disrespected — even if you’re right — there’s no need to add insult to your own injury by disrespecting yourself with a childish temper tantrum; and
c) If you truly don’t trust him or her (you listening?), what are you doing in the relationship? Why would you want to be with someone who don’t want you back the same way?
It really shouldn’t take a college course to teach you these things. If it does, you need to first take one in common sense.
In the words of Osborne, “I know you care about the love we’re building here, so, why get all upset? It’s just not worth with it. Listen to me, my dear. Don’t you get so mad about it,” is how the bridge to that song goes. And truer words were never spoken.
If it’s really love you have between you, something that has to build and grow over time with your hearts in harmony, you are doing such a great job of sabotaging things that you will look back later and, for years, wear out hobnailed boots kicking yourself in the butt.
Okay. It happens. Say, you made the mistake last night, flew off the handle in front of everybody and cannot, for the life of you, figure out how to rationalize it away, make it somehow be his or her fault for “taking you there,” for pushing you to it, for provoking you. You realize there is no excuse for your behavior.
Very good. Give yourself a gold star. Then, go to that person who’s so important to your life, apologize and ask their forgiveness. There’s no guarantee you’re going to get it. Try, anyway.
If they’re not trying to feel you, well, I guess you realize what a costly lesson you learned. If they are, if they say, ”Yes, baby, I still love you, but, don’t you never do nothing to me that dumb again,” take that to the bank. And next time, if you have to sit on your hands to keep from getting up and making a horse’s behind out of yourself, then that’s just what you do.
One thing you don’t do. You don’t get so bent out of shape you don’t know how to act in public. You don’t…well, you just don’t need to get so mad about it.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.