The. Stress. Is. Building. A major deadline looms. Dog just peed on the carpet. Son shattered his iPhone. Source bailed on interview. Boss denied vacation request. Spouse is nagging. And daughter missed her doctor’s appointment (cha-ching). Granted, these are all First World problems, yet the tension between my shoulder blades could support a Mini Cooper. What’s an over-committed, spread-too-thin, workaholic to do? Crank up AC/DC and break some stuff.

Release the Kraken

The aluminum Louisville Slugger is lightweight and cool to the touch. I tap the barrel against my left palm a couple of times, before cocking back and unleashing my frustrations on an empty Tito’s bottle. Saaa-wing . . . and it’s not a miss. Adios Tito. A loud thwack fills the room, as the bottle explodes on contact. Clear glass shards spin through the air, and tumble to the floor. The bottle’s jagged neck spirals forward, shattering into even smaller pieces when it meets the wall. 

The knot at the base of my neck loosens just a bit, and the corners of my mouth drift north into the first smile of the day. That. Felt. GOOD! Next up: a bottle of Two Buck Chuck—who drinks that swill anyway? And then an olive green and bright yellow dinner plate that dates back to Nixon’s White House. I wind up again and again, and swing away, pivoting my hips so the fragments of my fury kiss different spots on the wall. The smarmy faces of an uptight neighbor, OCD co-worker, and distant cousin might serve as targets. I’m taking the Fifth.

Thirty minutes, 21 wine bottles, five plates, and one dot-matrix printer later, a 10-inch-high pile of refuse lines the wall. Sweat and laughter spill from my body, as my curated play list transitions to Kid Rock. I’m ready to dive back into life with a new disposition. 

Artwork by Timothy Banks

Rage Rooms

So-called smash rooms, or anger rooms, first opened in Japan more than a decade ago. In today’s fast-paced, stress-induced world, they provide a safe place to throw an all-out temper tantrum that doesn’t end with a call to the cops. The American Psychological Association reports more than 73 percent of adults regularly experience psychological and physical symptoms from stress. Irritability and anger are the most common manifestations. Top causes in order: jobs, money, health, and relationships. 

People from Serbia to Argentina have discovered the stress-relieving health benefits of rage rooms . . . but, let’s be honest, smashing things to smithereens is just plain fun. Throw in some rock ‘n’ roll and a cold beer, and it can make for an exceptionally exhilarating night.

Smashit/Axit

“I had a group of four divorced women in here just last week.” Chase Michaels is setting up bottles inside Greenville’s Smashit/Axit on North Pleasantburg Drive. “They all brought in gifts their exes had given them over the years that they hated. Oh, they laughed and had fun bashing that stuff.”   

Chase busted his first batch of breakables at a similar place in Chicago. “I was visiting, and a friend convinced me to go after dinner,” he recalls. “It had a mirror ball going around and Metallica was playing. I grabbed a sledge hammer, and we just went at it. What shocked me was the energy it took.”

Upon his return home, Chase opened his 2,500-square foot “aggression entertainment center” that’s averaging 100 visitors a week. Father/son duos, corporate management teams, even nonprofit volunteers are swinging bats to blow off steam and bond. The co-owner believes he’s found the attraction. “You get to be 10 again, and you get to let loose. No one’s here to judge you. You can’t get in trouble, and that endorphin rush is real.”

Chase and his partners upped the site from a simple smash room. They’ve included eight lanes for ax-throwing, a bar, and a car smash pit that currently houses a dented Lexus LS400. Are you stressed out? Before you punch the wall, or slam that door, visit Smashit/Axit to relieve the tension.

Smashit/Axit, 1164 N Pleasantburg Dr, Greenville. (622) 762-7448, smashitaxit.com