Even here along the soothing pacific of the North Shore are those who have had an impoverishing experience with another fellow human or two. In my case it is more than two, so either I’ve found what I deserved or there are more buttheads out there than I can count and my life-list total is more the norm. In a few cases I have spoken with emphatic glee that when the time came, I would find no greater pleasure than following their funeral procession to be the very first to wet it down with the remains of three or four cups of coffee drunk with that sole purpose in mind. It was a heart-warming thought to imagine “finally” and “what they deserve” and “take that!”

I freely admit the thought is crude. To be caught doing this particular thing: cruder yet, but what in hell’s the point of such retribution if it stays secret between Harry and his bladder? There is a price to too-public vindication, so I settled on a happy compromise: “I’ll announce I’ve done it.” I’ve had one chance, but not being properly topped up with coffee felt it would be demeaning and disappointing to volley a mere piddle. Winter, of which we seem to have far too much, is another slower-downer of such warm impulse as mine. That the case, an awful lot of a year is ruled out unsuitable and decidedly not worth the bother of cold feet after wading through snow- on-snow to take a leak on a location of only approximate correctness. If I’m going to do it, I wish to hit my target a solid salvo. On one occasion this yen was whisked away by the fall day being gusty. Shortly after moving to Minnesota at age 12, the reality of peeing into the wind or uphill, especially barefoot, was brought full force to awareness. So, despite all the gloating anticipation of vengeful fulfilment, I’ve yet to enjoy that particular satisfaction.

I doubt I ever will. In fact, I doubt that other than as a mental and theatrical device, the thing stood much chance of seeing delivery. I don’t know if it is cowardice or better judgment that held me back, or perhaps simply the fact of expressing the notion in lively fashion (people will tell you if anyone can beat a topic to death, it’s I) was enough entertainment and thereby satisfying in itself. An act of revenge or retaliation can certainly have emotional appeal and provide some release. The good news: there is no necessity to act the thing out. What reward there might have been in spelling my name in flowing script addition to RIP doesn’t require commission to achieve a rewarding end. I’m confident I’d leave the grave no wiser on the reality of mortal life having left behind eight fluid ounces as testament to my being. I should be able to do better. Indeed, I should remind myself to be an actor more than a reactor.

A reactor has an autopilot, knee-jerk response. Piss on me and see what happens: you’ll get it right back. That’s reaction. Being an actor, a person could respond in kind as a reactor would. But for an actor, it is an option rather than “the” thing. An actor in life is free to act on a broader stage than hosing down the sod. An actor can act as she feels best for herself. An actor can turn revenge into forgiveness or understanding. Instead of emptying urine, an actor can go away empty of ill feeling through putting the sour aside for a simple prayer or a stab at better understanding. “No, I’m not going to act with the bile you inspired in me.” I’m able to stand in zipped dignity and say, “I can do better.” Why not announce freedom from that departed spirit, saying, “I’m sorry you were miserable and had to spread it around, but not to me, not anymore.” Being an actor is more enjoyable than playing the grump. Why be limited when you don’t have to? Why bind yourself when there’s no need and so little growth and good to be found that way?

The thought of pissing on an enemy’s grave has its place in time and emotion, but I think there’s a greater thought to be found in following the broader expanse of the actor’s field. How sad to be hemmed in. I remember being younger and using every bit of hardened reserve in me to avoid a show of emotion. Where do the young get the idea that showing feeling is weakness? Why do so many have the sense that mockery and impolite behavior show us as strong? I know I was burdened that way. I’d do anything to avoid a public show of emotion. Worse, I avoided as active dangers situations and people who might touch my feelings.

That was sad. How much better I feel (and act) now when I find it a lesser day when I don’t feel something beautiful or true or human or encouraging enough to prompt a burst of emotion in the form of tears. An alive and thriving human has to show more than fear, hunger, and anger as answers to what he is feeling. Recognizing feeling, which is torture for those good at holding it in, grows easier with practice. A person open to feeling can become an actor resonating in a larger sphere of empathy and compassion. Urinating on the dead, no matter how seemingly justified or rewarding, is under any consideration a small and pathetic thing to do. If an act is not constructive, you might think of it as diminishing. I had such fun and release as warranted from verbal flow because good sense (and hopefully my better nature) told me I’d cast myself in the role of piddling fool if I did anything but drop the matter and move on to something worthy of effort, better for me and for us all.