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Hostility is just futility, unless you give it a host

I am not a ticking time bomb.

On a hostility scale of 1 to 100, I score just 14. It is unlikely you will ever see neighbors interviewed on TV about my munitions cache. If you secretly expect me to kick a car tire, forget it.

I have passed a hostility test.

If that impresses you, good.

If not, fine.

I won't get mad. The test attests to that. It is among the latest such instruments to appear at the Web site www.queendom.com, where psycho-surfers can also measure their intelligence, self-esteem and patience.

There I found myself this week, faced with hypotheticals. Yes, indeed, I said I would simply "walk away" if I found a boyfriend passionately kissing my best friend. In that case, who needs either one?

It doesn't matter that Kiefer Sutherland would never do that to me.

I am, officially, a pushover.

"You are driving home from the car dealership, where you have just bought your first brand-new car. You are waiting at a red traffic light, when you are rear-ended by another driver.

"How would you react if you realized that your car's entire rear-end was smashed?"

The five choices given:

+ I would punch/kick the other driver.

+ I would punch/kick an object near me and begin yelling at the other driver.

+ I would raise my voice or yell at the other driver.

+ I would kick my car tire and refrain from raising my voice at the other driver.

+ I would resist raising my voice at the other driver or striking an object.

I chose the least aggressive response.

But even that fell short.

In real life, I went to court to help the other driver fight his ticket, feeling guilty that I stopped too suddenly and caused the wreck.

Now, a few years later, the paint on my replacement bumper cover is peeling.

I should probably go back to the body shop and complain.

Nah.

I asked Ilona Jerabek if I should be concerned about my relative lack of anger.

She is the queen of queendom.com, the Ph.D. who runs the site.

"It's definitely not unhealthy in the medical sense," she said. "It might be unhealthy for your self-esteem if you let people run your life, or if you don't stand up for yourself.

"A score of 14 doesn't necessarily mean that you do that."

I liked the way she almost called me a wimp without really doing it.

Though it may sound like a site for cross dressers, "queendom" is a word born of "kingdom." It offers online tests for fun, while a companion site, psychtest.com, caters to corporate human resource departments.

Of the 18,214 people who have taken the hostility test in its first month, only 1 percent scored below 15, Jerabek said.

"Everybody has a little bit of hostility in them," she said.

Our outbursts are rare, we, the 1 percent.

When we get angry, others take note, because it isn't as if we routinely punch people's lights out.

About 10 percent of test subjects can't make the same claim. They scored above 70. Jerabek calls them "pathological."

Hostile attitudes can lead to illness, Jerabek noted.

People with high blood pressure scored, on average, eight points more than others.

So maybe I should increase my sodium intake, just a little.

"The results of your test indicate that you are less angry, less cynical and more trusting than most people," my report stated. "You tend to be stoic and almost never display signs of aggression.

"By keeping your hostility level to a minimum you are reducing your chances of developing a heart disease later in life.

"However, you may want to consider whether your phlegmatic nature is preventing you from achieving your full potential."

Wait. Phlegmatic?

Go ahead. Call me names.

I'm not bothered by that.

Not at all.

_ Tampa's Kennedy Boulevard was once called Grand Central. Now Grand Central is the name of a weekly column by Times senior editor Patty Ryan. Ryan can be reached at 226-3382 or pryansptimes.com.

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