Lou PiniellaJune 7, 2007
I was a real tantrum-thrower as a kid. My most public tantrum came at the end of a little league game. We were playing the Twins, one of the two or three teams in the league we had a chance to beat, and were leading by three runs in the bottom of the last inning. They loaded the bases for their best hitter, a short, stocky kid named Tom Soule.
My mom was watching the game from the metal bleachers behind our dugout. I was playing third base. Tom Soule swung and sent the ball sailing.
“It was such a nice moment watching little Tommy Soule bounce around the bases with a big smile on his face,” my mom told me afterward. “Then I look up and see you. Kicking your glove across the field. Swearing. Crying. It was awful.”
My punishment was going to be that I’d have to miss my next game, but no doubt because punishments were pretty foreign to my hippie-influenced family this never came to pass. I think Mom just had me stack firewood instead, which I would have had to do anyway. Usually when I stacked firewood there was a Red Sox game on the radio, so it was actually a decent way to pass the time.
My most elaborate tantrum also was little-league related. In Vermont, winter never ends. This is how it feels when you’re an 11-year-old kid getting angrier and angrier as each new April snowstorm cancels another stab by your team to have their first practice. Finally when yet another sleet- and snowstorm cancelled practice I decided that the only thing there was to do was go try to get in a fistfight with the weather. I put on a thin windbreaker over a T-shirt—probably what I’d been planning to wear to practice—and set out into the howling storm. Having already watched too much television in my life, I imagined with some intensity the following scene centering on my departure: as I was about to exit the house some parental figure would ask me where I was going.
“Out,” I planned to say, toughly, before opening the door and slamming it behind me.
But nobody asked me anything, or even noticed I was about to go Ahab it up a little against the northern New England squall, so I just left. I ended up walking 8 miles in my sneakers through sleet and snow, all the way up the winding dirt road from East Randolph to Randolph Center. My friend Glenn lived in Randolph Center, so I went there and called home. My grandfather, who happened to be visiting, came and picked me up, unsure what to make of me.
“Damnedest thing I’ve ever seen,” he murmured.
By then my anger had kind of receded behind the encroaching hypothermia.
Just yesterday, in my cubicle, I was having great difficulty figuring out how to change the color of the text in these tiny text boxes we use to signal edits in a PDF document. This is the kind of thing that really gets to me these days, the conundrums that make me feel like I’m a stranger in a strange land, and that it’s only going to get worse as I get older and less able to adapt to the constant technological “upgrades” all around me. I hate upgrades. I loathe them. Soon death itself will be referred to as an upgrade, for isn’t an upgrade a wiping away of one world in favor of a whole new world with no memory of the old? Anyway, that’s not really what gets me wound up in those moments. It’s the feeling of helplessness and stupidity. So instead of calmly trying to figure out a solution to a problem, I throw a quiet masochistic tantrum.
So yesterday if you happened to be in my sector of the corporate headquarters where my name hangs on a cubicle you would have seen a 39-year-old man pulling his hair and punching himself in the head. Well, you probably wouldn’t have seen this, because whenever I am about to deliver blows to my head I take a quick look to see that no one is within witnessing range of my cubicle. But maybe there are hidden security cameras.