Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Let's play a game. You be the naïve twit.

Once upon a time when you were younger and stupider, you trusted someone who used your naïveté to play you and sabotage you for their own amusement. You of course never saw it coming, and it broke your heart. Bad. Yet you walked away without doing anything about it because despite the cardiac damage, you sincerely believed that shutting up and forgiving (or at least forgetting) was the right thing to do.

Time, as it so often does, passes. Then one day out of the blue, Fate plays Bad Santa and presents you with a secret, sterling, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to settle the score between you and the one who abused your trust. As to the amount of damage you could cause with this opportunity . . . remember that bus/cargo plane explosion in Speed? On that scale.

P.S., all you have to do for the payback is tell the truth.

Do you:

a) Haul out the revenge C-4 and wire up those detonators.

b) Shut up and work harder on the forgetting thing you thought you had nailed.

c) Turn the whole unpleasant experience into a television show script -- sort of your personal version of Veronica Mars -- and sell it, and ask the casting director to let Charisma Carpenter or Harry Hamlin play the part of the jackass.

d) Check to see if the production team for Veronica Mars is hiring outside writers.

e) Remember that you don't write for television and that revenge is a dish best served frosty.

f) Plow your way through three pints of Häagen-Dazs creme brulee ice cream while imagining a bus smashing into a cargo plane.

g) Suffer acute brain freeze and pop an extra 10 mg of Lipitor because you're not allowed to have that much ice cream on your diet.

h) Ponder the frequency with which moral dilemmas like this get dumped into your lap.

i) Check the freezer to see if the kids ate that last popsicle you stashed behind the frozen peas.

j) Write a blog entry about your dilemma.

k) Write a blog entry about your dilemma worded in such a way as to make any number of jackasses from your past squirm.

l) Pray for strength.

m) Suspect that God has caller ID and He's dodging you again.

n) Go to the store and pace back and forth in front of the ice cream freezer while calling your pharmacist to see if it is possible to overdose on Lipitor or Häagen-Dazs.

o) Leave the ice cream, go home and clean the bathrooms. Not that they need it.

p) Admire the sparkling porcelain while asking yourself, Now what would Veronica Mars do?

q) Wish you were Kristen Bell, because she would at least have a script and Jason Dohring to work with. And brood.

r) Recall the philosophies of Sun Tzu and Ivana Trump, and brood a little more.

s) Discard Tzu and Trump, move on to Machiavelli and John Peter Zenger, and really get into the brooding in a big way.

t) Come to the conclusion that as sweet and satisfying as a big heaping dish of ice-cold revenge might be, it's still hitting back. Whatever that jackass has done, your rules say that you can't hit back. Ever. No matter how absolutely beautiful the roundhouse punch would feel.

u) Decide that you're still stupid, and that your rules suck, but they are the rules and idiocy has its own weird charm. Lucky for the jackass, eh?

v) Content -- if not particularly happy -- with yourself, the universe, etc., take an aspirin for the ice cream headache and get back to work.


  1. Anonymous11:57 PM

    What was the question? Oh, yes, probably a combination of U and V, with maybe a variation of throwing a huge ice-cream party, so that I could get a spoonful from each of my favorites but not really over-indulge (yeah, right!).

    It happened so long ago, the idiot in question has forgotten all about it. Then again I could write a novel where I (pardon me, my protagonist) runs off with his father-in-law? Brother? Best friend? Commanding officer? How about all of the above? Now there is a thought.

  2. When faced with this dilemma, I tell myself that the individual in question is his or her own punishment. Nothing I might do could be worse than having to wake up and be him or her every freakin' day.

    Plus? I get to feel all righteous and pure for a whole ten minutes. BONUS!

  3. c, j and v.

    Telling the truth would be so sweet, but horrible Karma

  4. Anonymous12:41 AM

    Hey, what ever lets you sleep at night is what I'd recommend.

    We've all faced the do I?/don't I? quandary. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. I think the question should be: What course of action will you regret the least?

    There is no right answer, only yourself in the mirror every day. Does walking away make you a doormat or a good person? Does getting even make you a vindictive bitch or assertive?

    Only you and your reflection can decide.

    While you debate the implications, good luck with the ice cream/Lipitor combo! Do you have an extra spoon? My cholesterol's fine but I could go for some Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey. ;)

  5. Anonymous12:57 AM

    Being noble is such a pain in the ass sometimes, isn't it?

  6. H , J and M. I'm pretty sure he does have caller I.D and I hate it when he screens his calls. I'm calling NOT FAIR.

  7. U. It really sucks to pass by such a ripe opportunity so yeah...lucky jackass. OTOH I'd go for the feeling self righteous, smug and pleased with myself for being so freaking Gandhi for lots longer than 10 least a day...and guilt free ice cream binge.

  8. Anonymous1:21 AM

    The truth will set you free?

  9. Anonymous1:22 AM

    ...and the truth doesn't stick to your hips.

  10. A "friend" did "k" to me - I choose b.

  11. Hmmm.
    Have you been asked for the truth or is it a case of the chance to volunteer the truth?

    Would telling the truth prevent a repeat of the betrayal of yet another party?

    And, if you tell the truth, is your position invulnerable to a return attack?

  12. If this person has done something wrong, isn't it your duty to dobb them in it anyway?

    Revenge is a form of tough love. Sometimes it takes a burning homestead and slaughtered kin before somebody listens to feedback from the rest of the world.

  13. I vote for the moral high ground and ice cream.

  14. This is why the legal system has imposed a statute of limitations. It really depends on the "crime". Murder tell. Rape tell ( even statutory). Otherwise, let go and let karma handle it. That does not preclude you from using the thinly disguised details in a novel. Or even changing the details for a better outcome (this can be quite satisfying). Try some niacin for that cholesterol (check with your MD first).

  15. Anonymous7:43 AM

    Write a novel about it. I'm pretty sure no one will know/realize the person in question is the novel character anyway. Plus, you exorcise the urge for revenge because you can imagine him squirming at the sight of your book. Extra plus, no healthy problems, and (purely selfishly) I have something more to read. :D

    Seriously, as long as you are satisfied with yourself, that's all good.

  16. Anonymous7:47 AM

    C, kind of - those people become disposable characters in my stories. I'm the only one who'll know who's who, which makes it quite satisfying. I'm the only one who knows which of those jerks were simply eliminated, and which I felt it was necessary to torture unmercilessly. ^-*

  17. Retribution almost always backfires, but it coulc be that by telling the truth, you can prevent more evil/heartache/betrayal.

    A difficult issue and if drawn from your life, I'm sorry you had to go through it.


  18. Anonymous8:35 AM

    I'd do A. Not because of revenge, but because it dumps the whole thing back on the person who deserves it. Let THEM deal with it. I've got enough of my own screw-ups.

    No, I don't believe in forgiving and forgetting, either, not when the pain is deliberately and maliciously inflicted. Accidents and screw-ups happen. Those, I forgive and forget.

    TBH, karma sometimes needs a helping hand. But telling the truth, even if timed to cause a lot of damage, isn't your karma. You're clearing your plate of something that causes you pain. Keeping things hidden means festering. Get it out of you.

    Let them deal with it. It's their responsibility.

  19. Anonymous8:48 AM

    W: Convince myself that telling the truth will save some other poor naive twit from what I went through, and is therefore a Good Deed. Figure it's not my job to keep jackass's karma from coming back to bite him.

  20. Is truth better than ice cream?

    Tell the truth, go home with two pints of ice cream and reward yourself. The truth is never a bargaining chip for karma.

    While you're out, drop a few dollars into the charity buckets at the grocery counter.

  21. Anonymous8:49 AM


    I'd do A, then F, then V, and skip all the other stuff in between.

  22. Forgive me my youthful hot temper, my friends, but I'd go with A.

  23. L, T, U & V.

    You're the only person I've ever seen with that many multiple choices...

    Seriously, though, the few times I've ever done anything purely for revenge, yeah, it felt good. For the first ten or fifteen minutes. But then I have to look at myself and ask, after doing that, am i really any better?

    Rising above it is usually its own reward. Not as much fun at first, but feels better in the long run.

    Now I want to try that creme brulee ice cream. you suck. i've done so good on my 'changing my eating habit' (i refuse to call it a diet)

  24. Anonymous9:46 AM

    Success is the best revenge. Always.

    (well, maybe not always, but it's better than going to jail)

  25. Answer "L" would be the closest one. Life is way to short to spend on carrying grudges. I have wasted too much time doing that in the past.

  26. Anonymous10:18 AM

    Oh man. Hard one. But I know I've had a couple of occasions where I could've stricken back but didn't. It's just not in me. Even though I obsess about it like crazy later.

    I still want revenge on somebody but would I take the opportunity now if it were given chance? Probably not. I think karma has a way come coming back around, even if we don't always know it.

  27. That last comment was from me, don't know why it didn't show up though. Things that make you go, "hmmm".

  28. Anonymous10:45 AM

    Or another choice. Confide all the details to someone else who could tell the truth - absolving you of all responsibility.

    Then go for the ice cream

  29. C, K, L, and M because if it's still bugging you, you're not going to forget it.


    Seriously I'm a huge believer in karma. I've also learned that sometimes stuff that's huge for you ten years later is stuff the other person(s) involved don't remember ten years later.

    The best revenge is to live well--period. Period. Just ask me about my ex *evil laugh*

  30. Boy, what a dilemma. I've run across this one several times. I've always let it go, because 1) these sorts of people are slippery, being covered in Teflon, and 2) I'd rather not bring the whole stinking mess back up from the grave to shamble around.

    I believe that no deed goes unpunished or unrewarded. Which helps me be resolved about the matter in my own heart. YMMV.

  31. Anonymous11:05 AM

    I'll take q. (Jason Dohring.. yes, please)

  32. Can't believe you're getting lazy, PBW - having us plot your newest novel for you ;)

  33. A I've always loved the Count of Monte Christo and Visit of the Old Lady (or whatever the title is in English) scenario. Though I'd like to get back at those bastards who bullied me and show them I have the money and power to destroy them, watch them shiver and whine and plead for a day or so, and then leave. After all, what they did was nasty but nothing that deserves multiple explosions. But I admit, I won't deem it impossible for someone to hurt me in a way that I'd go the full revenge road Thelma and Louise style. Hasn't happend so far.

    And ice cream is never wrong.

  34. Anonymous11:54 AM

    Thanks for the comments and e-mails, everyone.

    Usually when I play this (entirely hypothetical) game, my choices are "k" "l" and "t" -- "k" being as close to "a" as I ever get. As long as there are no other potential victims involved.

    To channel Rilke for a minute: Maybe inside every jackass is a good person who got trapped there by big disappointments, heartbreaking failures, or real or perceived inadequacies. Someday the jackass might have a fairytale encounter that releases the good person inside. Or maybe the good person stays trapped forever.

    After you get kicked by the jackass, you want to kick back, but maybe the best revenge is to root for the good person inside to escape.

  35. I write a novel about it... of course it's even juicier and crazier than anything real life could have made it.

  36. Anonymous12:48 PM

    I like option k very very much. Maybe too dang much... ;-)

  37. Anonymous1:15 PM

    Eventually it will probably appear somewhere, sometime in a story disguised in such a way that only I know who is being referred to because that's what writers do. We use our experiences good and bad to make our fictional characters authentic.

    But as for what I'd do in the here and now... I like the way Andy Andrews puts it in his Seven Decisions:

    Forgiveness is about the past. Trust is about the future.

    Do we forgive someone who hurts us? Yes. Do we continue to allow that person to affect our present and future? No.

    So taking revenge would be bringing the past into the present and may well continue to affect the future.

  38. I'd go with option A. If they had really hurt me, I'd risk the karma.

  39. Häagen-Dazs makes creme brulee ice cream?

    I'd indulge in some sweet revenge fantasies, then forget the whole thing. Life is too short, ya know? It's always best to walk to away from negative shit. ;-)

  40. Anonymous7:09 PM

    I'm just sorry to hear someone treated you badly. You are a huge talent, generous, helpful -- and anyone who's done you a bad turn deserves...shunning. Or something like that.

  41. I'd not go for revenger. Karma has a way to come and bite me in the butt. I just simply refuse to help the person, explain why I won't do it (it's a matter of trust and I don't trust you anymore, blah...blah...blah), and leave. I don't want that person back into my life so it's best if I leave her/him to her/his own devices.

  42. Can I remain a naive twit?

  43. All I know is I really want to watch some Veronica Mars now. *Clicks over to Netflix and adds season 2 to list*

  44. Anonymous12:16 AM

    Ummm... over the years, never really trying to forgive, because it was unforgivable... doing my best to ignore it, because I had to keep the peace for other's sakes... certain that what goes around WILL come around, and that one would get her due... keeping myself from going for that revenge, cause it would hurt me and mine as much...

    and when what goes around came back, I thanked God for the opportunity to observe and enjoy, and didn't even need to say "I told you so"... and felt no guilt.

    But damn... if a not-implicating myself or guilt-free opportunity had come along... I probably would have taken it.

    I firmly believe God's sense of humor sucks, by the way... so yeah, He's probably screening calls.

  45. I was in an interesting position of seeing a betrayal--very soap operish. I was NOT the hurt one. BUT when my good friend became involved with the guy in question, I very carefully told her that he was a scumbag.

    A year later she came back to me for more of the details. AND, thankfully she had been careful with him and did not marry the guy. He did try to betray her with another girl--the very same situation that I saw about five years before. :-)

    I only tell if the person is getting ready to hurt someone I care about ... or someone underage.

    ALSO... I like the idea of making the person a minor character that gets tortured. Now that's what I call revenge.

  46. This is nature's way of testing your dedication to your personal code. Karma, the great equilizer in life, will take care of the rest. :)

  47. I choose option K. No reason why all jack-assery shouldn't be paid in a small way without actually pointing out any one specific jack-ass. That way you're not breaking your own rules, but you're still doing a little of karma's own work.

    However, I'm not sure I could talk myself out of actually just telling the truth and letting the jack-ass twist in the wind. Tough call.


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