I do a lot of ragging on Texas, especially this time of year, when temperatures there range between the levels of Saudi Arabia, Hell (not that those places are dissimilar) and 576 Kelvin. Saudi Arabia and Hell are actually a lot nicer than Texas, since they have what's called a "dry heat." Houston, on the other hand, has a relative humidity somewhere around 3,000,000 percent, as evidenced by the fact that you sweat even as you exit an ice-cold shower. But they do some things right in Houston. The telephone booths have central air, the most slummish apartments have nice pools, and there are myriad killer barbecue places where, aided by a few six-packs, you can actually enjoy a summer evening.
Houston could be where the National Institute of Mental Health and Harvard Medical School (motto: Bringing you impressive diplomas since 1782) conducted their study of the latest affliction causing your average American to not have to take responsibility for his actions: Intermittent Explosive Disorder. IED is now being used as an excuse for phenomena such as road rage, spousal abuse and pretty much anything else about your behavior that you want to explain away. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before it becomes a common diagnosis for those who can't handle the Texas-style heat. It could also be used to justify rage toward people who wear biker uniforms despite never being remotely affiliated with professional bike racing; people who drive in the left lane of the highway at 50 mph; and people who order extravagant non-coffee drinks at Starbucks between the hours of 5 and 8 a.m., when those of us who physiologically need coffee are waiting behind them. The "disease" manifests itself as inappropriate outbursts that cause physical and economic damage to those who happens to be near the "diseased"; on average, a "sufferer" will have 43 outbursts over his lifetime, resulting in $1,200 worth of damage.
The really scary thing is that researchers say this condition is under-diagnosed. As a misuse of my tax dollars, this study ranks right up there with the current campaign to exterminate "non-traditional" families. Rather than find the true cause of bad behavior -- something like bad parenting without a semblance of discipline or a pattern of skating through life without consequences -- the IED explanation just gives all the assholes out there another excuse.
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The more I read about IED, the more I felt like I was about to have an episode of perfectly understandable violence. So we ventured out into the heat and headed straight for Brothers BBQ at 568 Washington Street, an outlet of the homegrown chain that features a very nice patio where you can enjoy an excellent selection of scorched flesh, gas-inducing side orders and a few beers.
For anyone suffering from IED, Brothers is a great place to decompress. You can pretend that you're in some out-of-the-way Southern town where time crawls at a snail's pace, electricity is a novelty and high blood pressure is never caused by stress, but only by a really bad diet. And Brothers features another amenity not usually found at walk-in-and-order joints: open tabs. While at such self-serve spots you typically need to scrounge cash all night long -- from your pockets, your car seats, your friends -- in order to keep buying beers every five minutes, at Brothers you can keep ordering until you've had way too many, and then you pay your bill at the end of the night.
And pay all over again the next morning.
I'm holding Brothers responsible for overserving me and the Redneck Liaison to the Institute of Drinking Studies, resulting in our suffering hefty hangovers and gastrointestinal disturbances that made us very unpopular for several days. You could say it was our fault -- but then you'd be ignoring the way the wind is blowing around here lately. Nothing is my responsibility. And if you say it is, I'll ram you with my car. It'll be your fault.