There’s a new form of entertainment. People pay for the privilege of destroying things. Participants come from Houston, Dallas, San Diego, Jacksonville, New York, Toronto and Niagara Fall as well as England, Hungary, Serbia, Russia and Australia. There are accounts of people setting up shop, with the express purpose of giving folks a chance to wield a heavy object, such as a crowbar, a baseball bat or a tire iron, to smash something, such as crockery, glassware, office equipment or a Donald Trump mannequin. One operator said he had gone through three Donald dummies already to smithereens.
In Toronto, for example, The Rage Room charges $19.99 for a 45-minute session that offers one person the opportunity to smash five small items. The ‘date night’ package, for two people at $69.99, offers a combination of twelve small, medium and large items, as well as two medium sized electronic items. You get to choose your own musical soundtrack and download the video of your session. It’s open until 11 pm seven days a week.
At first blush, the idea seems a little frivolous. Still, why not, at $69.99, it’s about the same price as a night out for two watching an action movie, with a couple of soft drinks and a small box of popcorn. Just think of the potential for pleasure it might offer. Imagine your evil boss as an old, broken ceramic cookie jar and let your inner destroyer take over your outer restrained self. Just be hopeful that word doesn’t leak that you’ve bashed her in effigy.
Proponents of recreational destruction like to point out that there are very few socially acceptable ways in which to express anger. They also note that it is better to offer a safe outlet to allow people to do so, rather than have them stew over perceived injustices and plan hideous ways to reap their revenge, even if revenge is best when served cold. They say the folklore is true. ‘Letting the anger in your system boil over’ rather than ‘bottling it up inside.’ Studies show boil-overers generally lead happier lives than so bottle-uppers. If piñata-bashing isn’t enough to calm the furies within, try bashing up a room full of stuff destined for the junk heap anyway.
Those on the other side of the debate say that merely providing an outlet for aggressive behaviour doesn’t substitute for addressing the underlying reasons why a person becomes angry. Let’s say some poor sap cuts you off, as you drive to the Wellington Post Office, on a Tuesday afternoon. If you’re the type that promptly flies into a rage and gets out of your vehicle to denounce his stupidity, are you really likely to restrain yourself by saying “Well, I could drive down to the Rage Room, in Toronto, on the weekend and smash a few plates, so I’ll just bite the bullet.”
One psychologist likens destruction therapy to binge drinking: in the short-term, it might make you feel good, but it won’t the next morning. Another study has found that giving physical vent to your anger only leads to more anger, after the dust settles. Better, it concluded, to exercise, relax, think of something funny or engage in deep breathing or meditation to calm you down.
If that’s true, then perhaps our local churches could reposition themselves as meditation, calming and relaxation rooms. Perhaps it would be a tall order for churches to label themselves as comedy rooms, which may suggest an opening for a private operator. After all, to find some humour to overcome the anger you feel when you open your water or hydro bill; you will have to do better than recalling your favourite knock-knock joke.
As to destruction rooms, I say live and let live. Why require them to be on the cutting edge of anger management theory? Let’s leave them alone and let people who simply want to bash up some junk have some fun. Besides, anyone who has been stuck with the internet down and who has waited on hold for an hour for the privilege of dealing with a technician in Bangalore, only to be told that everything is working as it should and you must have a software problem, will tell you that bashing some junk seems like an entirely appropriate response. Just don’t bash up your rotary dial phone, though: it’s vintage and worth something. Use an old toaster oven instead.
Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.
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