Jason Fredric Gilbert
Pushing the boundaries of weird since 1978

A Week Without Yelling

Our therapist likes to give us homework. Small assignments that help us set boundaries for our little Taliban fighter or help us deal with the aftermath of his destruction. One assignment involved an egg timer to set a limit on how many hours of violent cartoons he can watch per day. Another involved keeping a list of how many kinder eggs/bamba/wafers I use to bribe him with each day. Last week he was stumped. So he asked what I thought our homework should be. Typical therapist bullshit for when he’s too lazy to think of something. But I had been waiting for this moment. It was all part of my grand scheme to get a prescription to some mood enhancer. Like Klonopin. Oh, Klonopin mon amour. So I told him I had an anger management problem. I yelled a lot. The stress of dealing with D.’s situation. The impending and somewhat inevitable relocation to my mother-in-law’s house. My jabba-the-hut like figure. All of which made me very angry. Very, very angry. And I needed something like valium to calm me down. I specifically said “Valium”. It was generic. If I had been specific and said Klonopin or Ativan he would have known exactly what kind of degenerate he was dealing with. So he smiled and said that I should keep a list of how often I yelled during the week. If needed, we would discuss medication. But certainly not valium. They had made great strides in pharmaceuticals.

On Monday morning a lady driving a Toyota Corolla yelled at me for not turning left when the light was still yellow. I couldn’t make out the words exactly but from the hand gestures, body language and honking it was quite clear that she was less than pleased. So I waved at her. To apologize. For not running a red light. But she must have mistaken that innocent gesture for an all out declaration of verbal war. And even though she was religious, she let me know in no uncertain terms that I was a son of a thousand whores and that she prayed that all record of me and my kin would be forever erased. She ended the tirade by screaming at me that all my money would go to medications. Which I found somewhat amusing. And ironic.

On Tuesday my direct supervisor, whom I sometimes refer to as my “work wife” let me have it. I call her my work wife because she often yells at me for no apparent reason. That and we don’t have sex. Which makes her a lot like my real wife. But she was yelling at me because I hadn’t done something. Or I had done something. Or I had shown up late and not called or emailed to let her know. So I told her that we had been at a hearing test for D. It was his tenth so I think was free. Pause for laughter. Blank stare. And that I had emailed her. But she couldn’t find the email. And I was accused of lying. Which wasn’t true. At least not on this particular occasion. So an arbiter was brought in from IT. And the conclusion was that the errant email had made its way into her spam folder. At which point the IT guy yelled at both of us for wasting his time.

On Wednesday some Lance Armstrong dude let me have it while I was running in the park. It was 5 AM and I could barely see anything. But he was on his bike and wearing his helmet and his uber tight spandex tights and his reflective clothing. And he yelled at me for not running in the pedestrian lane. I can’t see shit at 5 AM. I’m happy if I don’t end up in the Yarkon river. Or dead of a heart attack. I mean no one would notice for hours. So Mr. Armstrong yelled at me for not respecting the various lanes. And I apologized. And asked him kindly to call an ambulance if he ever saw me wriggling in pain on the ground. He didn’t think it was funny.

On Thursday my friend P. came over for dinner and yelled at me for being fat. And out of shape. And for eating too much chocolate. And for not exercising enough. And for drinking too much. But P. is a good friend. And he has glaucoma. Which sucks for him but could very easily be my ticket to medical marijuana. But he yells at me every time I broach the subject.

On Friday M. yelled at me. This time it was legitimate. I woke her up pretty early. In my defense, the freezer had completely iced up and I needed to chip away at it with a chopstick. The vacuuming might have been too much. So she yelled at me for waking her up. On a Friday morning. Her only day to sleep in. And then she yelled at me for sending D. to day care without a water bottle. Or a change of clothes. With shoes that may or may not be a size too small. But I made her a cup of coffee and order was restored.

On Saturday the most terrifying of screams reached my ears from the building next door. It’s one of those blood curling cries you only hear in horror movies and at Halloween themed haunted houses. It was an elderly woman and it sounded like she was either suffering from a severe case of dementia or she was being water boarded by Shaback agents. I’ve heard her scream almost every Saturday morning since we moved in to our apartment over three years ago. I was tempted at one point to explore the origin of the screams but thought better of it. Maybe she just wanted to scream and who was I to stop her?

On Sunday the representative from Bezeq International Internet yelled at me for not taking advantage of a great promotion. Our contract was up in November and failure to sign a new contract now, with him, on the phone, would result in me being a complete freir. And losing buttloads of money. But I told him I couldn’t talk now. I was at work. In a meeting. But he continued to yell. So I hung up the phone. And he called me back. Several more times. 14 to be exact. But I held my ground. And resisted the urge to answer. So my boss yelled at me to shut off my damn phone.

When I got home I could hear my next door neighbor yelling at her three kids. In a high pitched shrill. But who can blame her? I’ve seen those spawns of Satan at the playground. They make my little Taliban fighter look like Elmo by comparison.

My neighbor from downstairs knocked on the door that night collecting our apartment building’s equivalent of condo fees. Vaad Bayit they call it here. As I forked over the cash he smiled and asked me if I had gotten used to that crazy lady yelling all the time. To which I replied, “Yes, but she’s my wife and I love her very much.”

I haven’t yelled once this entire week which is a rare accomplishment for someone as belligerent as me. My homework is done and even though I probably won’t be getting a prescription to Valium, Klonopin or Ativan, I’ve learned that everybody else in this country probably should.

About the Author
Jason Fredric Gilbert is a film and music video director, published author and acclaimed parallel parker; His Independent Film,"'The Coat Room" won "Best in Fest" at the 2006 Portland Underground Film Festival. He is also the author of two books of screenplays, "Miss Carriage House" and the follow up collection of screenplays "Reclining Nude & The Spirit of Enterprise" He currently lives in Or Yehuda and solves crossword puzzles in the bathroom. Please slap him in the face if you see him.