'A tantrum is an emotional outburst of ill humor or a fit of bad temper wherein the higher brain functions are unable to stop the emotional expression of the lower (emotional and physical) brain functions.’ Wikipedia.
A fit of bad temper. Also called regionally hissy, hissy fit, conniption fit, huff, passion, temper.
Early hours of the morning, a kebab shop in Hove. I’m with an old friend, Michael, and his partner, Alison. Ahead of us in the queue, a man is huffing and snorting at a member of the shop’s staff, telling him what a disgrace the service is, and how he proposes never to patronise the establishment again, and so on. Then he stalks out.
‘You see how unattractive people look when they get stroppy in public?’ Alison says pointedly to Michael, who is prone to throwing similar self-righteous wobblies at helpless service personnel. It’s true – definitely not a pretty sight. But some switch gets thrown in the male brain at forty or so, and suddenly it seems to you that your affairs are in the hands of incompetent, obstructive and impertinent dopes.
I had a whole day of strops yesterday.
Strop the first, 12.20.
I go to Boots to buy some special shampoo recommended me by a doctor. A chit of about ten serves me and wants to know why I need this shampoo. I tell her it’s for pityriasis.
‘You’re ainley suppaste to use it if a doctor recommends it?’ she says.
I tell her a doctor did recommend it.
‘You’re ainley suppaste to use it on your scalp?’
I glare at her, intending wordlessly to convey that I'm paying for this stuff and can therefore use it on whichever body part I dashed well please.
‘I’ll gay and talk to the pharmacist? I’ll ainley be a minute, bear with me?’
After a while she returns to tell me that the pharmacist will be along in a mayment, and asks me to bear with her again.
‘Oh, forget it,’ I snarl, and stalk out, hearing Alison’s remark about unattractive huffing even as I do so. Oh, but for Christ’s sake, this is an over-the-counter preparation and I’m a grown man, not some kid trying to wangle a miniature of brandy from the off-shop ‘cos me Gran’s took badly. And I’m on my lunch-break. Well, honestly.
Strop the second, 16.14.
Central Trains, God rot them, lay on a two-carriage train at Leicester, where enough people are waiting to fill a train twice that length. Half of them do not manage to board. Those of us who do board are jammed immobile into the aisles and vestibules for the onward journey. I get off at Stamford, go to the guard and ask for a complaints form.
‘Ain’t got none left, mate, I give ‘em all out at Melton.’
‘I’m not fucking surprised’ I say, shocking myself with the vehemence with which this comes out. Poor sod, it wasn’t his fault and probably people have been cursing him out all evening.
Strop the third, 21.00.
Out to dinner with two friends. I order salmon. It arrives, riding a plate the size of a tyre hubcap, a piece of fish some five inches long, with one sliced potato, about 15 french beans on a puddle of whitish sauce, for an asking price of fifteen pounds. I ask the waiter, who acts personally wounded, to take it away on the grounds that a dish so meagre and unremarkable is not worth that amount of money, and pass straight on to the cheese. When the bill comes I am so mellowed out on red wine that I end up paying for the bloody salmon I didn’t eat rather than risking another confrontation. So the third strop was all directed at myself as I walked home, for being such a pussy.
The moral, obvious to anyone but me (and Michael) is that strop is impotent, a dead end. I didn’t get my shampoo, I didn’t get to blast the idiot personally responsible for not providing a long enough train, and I paid fifteen quid for not eating the dish I sent back for not being worth the fifteen quid I paid for it after all. I reckon a fortune awaits the geek that can devise a strop-level monitor for men, or for those of us born without one, perhaps something that causes a little red blob of light to flash in the bottom left quadrant of the lens of your specs when you are approaching boiling point and about to lose it. You could then bite your tongue, quickly reframe the situation and walk away with what you wanted, rather than just ending up looking a cunt.