I had a baseball bat in one hand and an early 2000’s computer monitor in front of me. Bon Jovi’s, “You Give Love a Bad Name” blared from my iPhone. I held the bat behind me and squatted like I was doing a standing tricep extension. I was excited for the machine to shatter into pieces across the room. After all, I’d been working out my arms with the Shake Weight I purchased some five years ago – my grandma told me my arms were getting flabby.
The bat was almost weightless and the computer standing up at full attention. I was scared of the noise it would make when I hit it, like how the sound of balloons popping makes me jump. I took a breath, locked my step, and swung down at full force and absolutely nothing happened. Not even a dent. Over and over I swung at the gray monitor, to no avail.
I peeked out of the room, frustrated, and spotted Jeffrey Yip, the owner of place who asked, “That’s it?”
“It won’t break!” I said.
I hadn’t expected a computer built a decade ago to be hardier than an iPhone that can break after falling down one carpeted step. The monitor didn’t look scuffed. Were we truly moving forward?
I decided to move on to smashing the 10 plates.
I inspected one then flung it in the air. I was certain I’d miss but instead I made solid contact, which resulted in a satisfying clang. White porcelain flew everywhere. I felt a little guilty destroying such a pretty plate. But it felt good. Really good. My anger from the day was slowly escaping me with each smack of the bat.
Few things set me off more than loud chewing and that day was full of it.
“You really should see someone about that,” my mother said.
Instead, I went to WebMD and self-diagnosed and learned I suffer from misophonia, “a disorder in which certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses that some might perceive as unreasonable give the circumstance.”
WebMD presented a checklist of symptoms: rage, anger, hatred, panic, fear, emotional distress. I never felt so validated in my life.
Knowing doesn’t mean I can control it, though. On a recent Wednesday morning, I was at work when my fake morning smile inverted into a frown when I found my favorite seat occupied. The only seat available was next to the loudest eater in the office. He was the Luciano Pavarotti of loud eaters.
As he chewed, sucked and smacked on Werther’s Original caramel, I couldn’t concentrate. The man returned for two more decibel-shattering sets over the course of the day.
It drove me to search for ways to release my anger and distress. After 30 minutes on the internet, I came across a new trend – a place where I could pay money to get out my frustrations by beating the crap out of inanimate objects, usually office equipment. This was more socially acceptable than breaking things by myself for free. Conveniently, there was a place near Penn Station.
I picked up another plate and in my head heard the sound of chewing. It was on a loop, like an abandoned record in a horror movie. I threw the plate high and swung so hard I twirled. Another glorious clang that momentarily drowned out the sound of caramel sticking to my colleague’s wet teeth as well as the Bon Jovi. It was music to my ears..
I needed something with more resistance and went back to the indestructible still mint condition computer monitor. I inspected it, hoping to figure out what could possibly be holding it together after my barrage. Ah, the monitor was covered by a soft plastic film that prevented it from falling apart. Take note, Apple.
You could call it cheating, but I tried peeling it off, but my thick gloves made it so I couldn’t grip it.
When I couldn’t free the monitor from its plastic overlord, I figured I’d keep hitting it as hard as I could, grunting with each smack. But it was useless. Sweating and gasping for air, I was madder than when I had walked in.
The place is called, fittingly, The Rage Cage. On its FAQ page it bills itself a “destruction services provider” that could provide relief for a stressful week, celebration, or date.
Before I signed up, I checked with a shrink to ensure it was for real. According to Dr. Francesco Ferrari, a psychiatrist at NYU Langone, while activities like these may provide some temporary relief from stress, some longer-term remedies include mindfulness and exercising.
Mindfulness? I have enough to think about in life. And forget about exercising. That would mean I would actually have to work up a sweat.
“The best way to think about these fads are for recreation and fun,” Dr. Ferrari added.
I booked a “Solo Smasher” session, which cost $44.99, plus tax. It sounded lonely, like saying, “Table for one, please.” For the money, I would get 10 plates and two smaller electronics, such as a keyboard, phone, or speakers. For 50 bucks, these better be nice plates.
When I arrived, a young woman sat behind an L-shaped desk. “Welcome to The Rage Cage!” she said. She was too peppy for someone who runs a destruction service, or she could be proof of its effectiveness. Her name was Elizabeth Yip and she owned the business with her husband, Jeffrey Yip.
She asked me to sign a waiver, slip on a coverall, put on a hard hat, and against all the lessons of my 10th grade health teacher, asked me to double glove — one heavy-duty glove over a black latex one.
I followed her to the first room. The rules were spray painted on one of the walls, reminding “ragers” to keep their gear on and to avoid smashing the walls or towards people. I skimmed them and I was ready to take my anger out on inanimate objects that wouldn’t break, though I overestimated my strength earlier.
By the end of my 20-minute raging session, my arms hurt, and I was hungry. My phone began playing Celine Dion’s “Power of Love.” Totally wrong for the occasion.
Defeated, I asked to take the unbroken plates home. Going home with three brand-new dishes was all the solace I needed to get over my colleague’s chewing – and I didn’t even have to get lost in Ikea for them.
As I made my way out of the building, I thought my new plates would match the white porcelain mugs my grandpa had just given me. Maybe I’d throw a dinner party – quiet eaters only.