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"Is there *hitting*?!"

First, the definitions. Once upon a time, cadhla posted "Why Coyote doesn't give commandments," wherein she explained how the 10 Commandments as taken down by Moses would be entirely different if originally dictated by Coyote. In these commandments were some concepts that stuck in my brain and made themselves at home, to appear quite cheerfully at later points in time:
II. Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Wife, But Thou Art Totally Welcome To Admire Her Ass When She Walks By, and If It Happens To Come Out That They Are In An Open Relationship, Dude, Tap That Ass As Much As They Are Willing To Allow. Same Goes For the Ladies. Coveting Is Sort Of Stupid, But Sex Is Just Plain Fun, Unless Thou Art Doing It Entirely Wrong.

III. If Thy Neighbor Says 'Hands Off My Wife, Dude', Thou Shalt Listen and Back Off, Because Otherwise, Thy Neighbor Will Be Totally Justified In Hitting You About the Head and Shoulders With Gardening Tools, and Don't Think That I'm Going To Step In There and Stop Him.

IV. Adultery Is Actually Pretty Fun. Commit It All You Like. Just Make Sure Everyone Is Cool With It, Or I Will Not Help You Out Once the Hitting Gets Started.


Somewhat later, I had occasion to be asking a friend about some upcoming plot developments in a role-playing game I was following. The scenario to date had involved a prominent government official, his mistress, and his soon-to-be-ex-wife, and the conversation that was to ensue when the official returned to the home that he had up until quite recently shared with his wife: this being the first time the official had encountered his wife in private after she had learned about his mistress. "Will there be hitting?!" I asked eagerly.

"Hitting" has become a shorthand term of mine, for the situations that have been brewing and are now stacked just exactly so and are inevitably not going to end well once all the pieces are together and something disturbs the previous fragile balance. Usually the explosion happens in a way that will probably leave all participants still alive, but is likely to have people who have been really asking for something winding up getting that something. The characters who have been asking for what they're about to get are not always aware that they're asking for something, or, if they are, aware of what they're asking for. A scene in which I think there will be "hitting" matches them up with someone who is able to dish out what needs dishing out. If the character deserving the dishing out cannot take it, that is their own fault and they have brought it upon themselves. It's not necessarily actual physical violence, but either way, they are going to stumble away from the scene feeling like they've just been on the receiving end of an old-school Barrayaran discipline parade.

I look forward to reading (and writing) situations like that. I get a dose of guilt-free schadenfreude when some character is getting a right royal dressing-down. There is all the glorious emotional excess of High Drama, without the unpleasant and-then-dealing-with-the-fine-mess-we-have-made ripple effect and backlash that happens in real-world situations. (I used to be a real-world drama addict, but I've developed a bit of a distaste for that scene over the past decade.) Sometimes this is a thorough bitching-out that they might not get if this were actually reality that they lived in. They are getting exactly what they deserve, and it's wonderful to watch.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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