Rector lips

By Joe Rector

One of the things I love about my wife Amy is that she is slow to anger. Perhaps that’s the reason we’ve been married for so long. The Good Lord knows I’ve done and said enough things over the years to make her pop a blood vessel. Unlike my saintly partner, I am quick to lose my temper and explode like a volcano that spews lava. During these terrible times, I’m not angry. That’s how civilized folks and the upper crust of society react. Instead, I am “mad.”

As a child, my temper often landed me in trouble. My mother had tried everything to cool me down. She would wash my mouth with soap after I let loose a string of profanities. She tried to exorcise the foul anger demons from me with switches and belts. Mother finally made me come to the kitchen and sit at the supper table. I was stuck there until I cooled down and behaved. I wasn’t allowed to utter a sound the entire time I sat. Eventually, my temper cooled, and my wild, blind madness faded.

My children could stoke the embers of my temper. Lacey, who is too much like me, refused to “go with the program,” and doing so made the mercury in my inner thermometer quickly tick up to boiling. Amy stepped in at those times and scolded both of us. Dallas knew every button to push to send me into orbit. His most complete takedown of his dad came when he decided he liked Charles Woodson better than Peyton Manning. My son rubbed in the fact that the Heisman Trophy was awarded to the Michigan player. Like all Vol fans, I was furious about the situation, and my boy’s stunts only increased my ire.

Over my lifetime, I’ve become more incensed when principles and rules are disregarded or broken by others. Those kinds of violations leave me fuming. I learned such righteous indignation from my mother, who also disliked people who acted entitled and above the rules.

These days, I’m slower to anger. Each of us has only so much energy at any one time, and I’ve found losing my temper leaves me exhausted. Yes, I still get mad, but not with such fervor. Now I “stew” over things instead of blowing up.

As for my family, they can tell when my hackles start to rise. They swear that I put on the “Rector lips.” That means I tighten the muscles around my mouth until my lips look like a single line drawn in a downward arc. If I disagree with something, a frown goes along with thin lips. If, instead, I am mad, my eyes open widely and wildly. That is a warning that giving me a wide berth might be wise.

My fits of anger never last long. For some reason, I explode and then regret my lack of self-control. I’m sure most people judge me to be a rather immature male who is too quick to allow others to dictate my emotions. I’d probably agree with that assessment with only one comment: sometimes my anger is justified. In the end, if anyone sees me with the Rector lips on my face, he can rest assured that, at the least, someone or something has sparked my anger and that volcanic action is possible.