There’s this window in my office that looks out over the breezeway, and every day I come in and stare at it and wonder how hard it’d be to break the big panes of glass with an office chair tossed from the vicinity of my desk.
I know how this sounds, ’cause I mentioned it once at an office meeting, and people have already given me the look even if they’ve come to understand what’s really behind the impulse.
I mean, I don’t want to throw a chair ’cause I’m feeling violent or because I particularly want to engage in a little wholesale destruction, or because I go to work and find myself in a state of uncontrolled rage. I just want to do it ’cause the window is there, and I don’t know for sure if I could break it, and I’d like to know, maybe. To do it for science, as it where, and know what breaking the window would look like.
In my head there’s a list of situations where I can finally give in to the impulse, things that would give me permission to make a chair airborne and watch it impact against the glass. They range from the logical – in case of fire, get out this way – but the majority involve zombies or elaborate action sequences or turning into the Incredible Hulk, things that’ll never happen anywhere but in my head, which is probably safer for everyone.
And maybe it’s the challenge of it, wondering if I’ve got what it takes, wondering if I could build up the strength to break down something that size, no matter how fragile we’ve come to think glass is. I’ve got theories about windows and tensile strength, about the chair rebounding off the pane ’cause the size of it makes it hard to break.
And part of me wonders if it’s like that thing, which I realise ain’t real specific, but it happened a lot back when I was twenty and I’d spend all my time on the highway. That thing where you’d drive and you’d glance at the speedo and you’d wonder what would happen if you just turned and flew off the side of the road, banking hard and going over without really slowing down. Not ’cause you wanted to hurt yourself, and sure as hell not ’cause you wanted to be killed, but just ’cause you wanted to know what it’s like, being in a crashing car as it rolls down an embankment, ’cause you see it on TV and you see it on films and you don’t trust either to show you what its really like.
It’s not like I ever mentioned that thing, although I once wrote a story about it. It won me two hundred bucks in the undergraduate writing prize, this thing run through our student union that none of us really entered, even though we had a writing faculty and all of us were doing stuff. I told someone about it once, my first real girlfriend, although the conversation happened before we started dating, although by then she was already flirting and waiting for me to catch on.
We were going somewhere in her car and I brought it all up, told her all my theories about what would happen and what would not. I asked her if she ever felt it, that thing that made you want to turn, and she admitted she’d probably felt something like it, but she knew she’d keep driving ’cause she had a son.
I was sitting in the passenger seat and I felt all kinds of pissed off. I said something like. “well, yeah, but it’s not like I worry about that,” and maybe I was an arsehole about it ’cause I didn’t really know what was going on at that point.
That we ended up dating after that is kind of a surprise, but she listened to a whole lot of punk bands, so maybe it really wasn’t.
In my head there are two chairs that get thrown towards the window. The first goes through, like something from a movie. The chair itself flies out in a shallow parabola, bounces off the concrete wall on the far side of the breezeway. I do not have the strength to do this, even if the glass is easier to break than I’m assuming, but in my head that’s how I’ll break the window and it’ll be all kinds of awesome.
The other chair just bounces off, maybe hits me in the leg when I’m too dumb to get away from the rebound. Maybe the glass will crack a little, but I’m guessing it probably won’t. The chair will probably draw some blood, but not enough that you’d really notice, and even the failure will make me happy, ’cause at least I’ll know what happens. I’ll have tested the hypothesis that’s been bugging me for months.
And I’ll have something in my head that isn’t just a story, even if the first thing I’ll do in the aftermath is figure out how to turn it into one.