Life can be frustrating, what with all the obstacles that it keeps throwing in our paths, but we have to remain philosophical… what choice do we have? I mean it’s frigging life we’re talking about here… it always wins in the end so we’re pretty much screwed. But when it is another person who is making things difficult for us, well, that’s a different story.
We could, I suppose, reason with the person causing us problems to achieve an equitable outcome but diplomacy tends to put us back into the position we were in before hostilities began and ignores compensation for any wrongs, real or perceived, done to us. This is where retaliation shows itself to be the better, more just, and more satisfying solution to many of life’s little problems.
For example, you have a neighbour who owns a Rottweiler and the two of them pass by your house several times a day whenever Brutus has to go out on his walkies. The trouble is, Brutus gets a whole bunch more fibre in his diet than he ought to and apparently his master isn’t getting his daily serving of carrots because he’s not seeing (and, therefore, not picking up) the Mount McKinley sized doots Brutus is leaving behind in your yard. So, what is one to do aside from wearing a rubber poncho and hipwaders every time one mows the lawn?
In an effort to remedy the situation, would you…
- … invite Brutus’ master over for tea to discuss the matter?
- … invite Brutus’ master over for a beer and when he arrives confront him with an intervention involving everyone on the block who has lawn frontage with Brutus’ taint on it?
- … invite Brutus’ master over for either of the two aforementioned reasons but spike his drink with the veterinary grade laxative given to you by your good buddy who is in charge of the elephants at the circus?¹
Any of these three tactics is capable of yielding the result you want, i.e. keeping the business end of Brutus pointing away from your Kentucky bluegrass, but only Number Three will give you the satisfaction of knowing that your point has truly struck a chord with Brutus’ owner. And maybe Brutus could benefit from the kind of treatment described in the very first paragraph of this recent post of mine, but that’s a discussion best saved for another day.
Finding ways to solve such problems in a way that won’t soon be forgotten is probably my only true talent and I have lots of experience in the retaliatory black arts. I remember back to grade two when I had my eye on Artsy Margot, the girl with the longest, straightest, and blondest hair I had ever seen. Margot was a true artiste — she was the only one in art class who had a smock to protect her all-black clothes from all the high-level art she was churning out. An eight year old blonde who wore all black? That’s truly artsy, even by today’s standards. I bet if I could find her today she’d be deeply involved in crystal power, the tantric yoghurt movement, be hobnobbing with the jet set, and getting commissioned to do murals in clothing designers’ homes.
Anyways, I only worked up the courage to speak to Margot twice — once to compliment her on the cats she drew in art class and a second time to console her after the teacher said her two-curved-lines seagulls didn’t really look like seagulls. Anytime we’d have art after I told her that the teacher didn’t know squat about drawing gulls Margot would beckon me to work with her by throwing me “come hither” looks that only blondes wearing all black seem to be able to pull off.
Aside from being ashamed of my third-rate schlock art based on tracing coins and my own fingers, I simply choked and remained frozen in my seat. Timmy, whose hair was even blonder than Morgot’s (I always thought he must have been the victim of some sort of fluke peroxide accident during conception), started talking to her, the creep. So one day I hatched this elaborate scheme in which I got my best friend, The Pres, to put some dog poo into Timmy’s billy boots while I established an alibi by asking the teacher lots of questions, not leaving the class even to go to the bathroom, and making sure I was the center of attention the whole time.
The recess bell rang so we all went into the cloakroom and I watched Timmy’s expression change to horror as he put on his left boot. The Pres chuckled audibly while Timmy looked around the room seeking some sort of explanation for what he was feeling. I was sitting facing straight ahead but my eyes were looking sideways at Timmy. Our eyes met and he was rattled by “the dangerous look” — the one pop musicians make when they pose for album photos — I had on my face and the ever-so-slight nod I gave him meaning “Yes. I am responsible for that poo you feel gooshing through your wool socks and between your toes. How did I do that? I was in class before you arrived and never left your sight. I must be some sort of phantom or something. Do yourself and whoever washes your socks a favour… keep away from Margot.”
After that Timmy did stop hanging around with Margot and it was well worth the jawbreaker and the compass with the real radium glow-in-the-dark painted needle I gave to The Pres for his services in helping me give Timmy the dog poo hot foot. Over the summer Timmy’s family moved away and no one has ever seen him again, not even on Facebook. I’d like to think that my neighbour’s beagle and I had something to do with it.
It’s not written in stone that you have to use dog poo in your plot to get some pay-back, it’s just a coincidence that it figured prominently in the thing with Timmy and that I also mentioned it in my hypothetical Brutus situation. In high school me and some friends with really loud cars would go on “spite runs” in the middle of the night and tear up and down in front of the houses of teachers who had the gall to take exception to us not doing our homework and stuff. See? Not one speck of dog poo was involved in the spite runs even though we could have smeared it onto the underside of the teacher’s car’s door handle. Poo or no poo, whatever approach to conflict resolution you choose, get jiggy with it.
¹ If you do choose #3 I strongly advise that you have your chat outdoors or, at the very least, put down some drop cloths.
An Offer You Cannot Refuse
I recently helped Mark Petruska see that while his boss painted him into a corner by forcing him to give a long speech at some work function, that freshly-painted floor is entirely his boss’ doing. People who are stupid enough to make a habit of painting people into corners better learn to expect the occasional footprint in the paint job. I was happy to help Mark out of his jam.
I’d also be happy to help you out of a jam. Does your neighbour have a Rottweiler? Are you a teacher with dog poo on your car’s door handle? Do you happen to know Timmy’s new name and whether he’s talking to Margot again? Tell me all about it in the comments section below and I’ll see what I can do to find a creative solution to your little dilemma. It’s not often that the general public has access to a mind so dark, so devious, so, fiendish — unless you work at a hospital for the criminally insane you really should act now.
If enough problems are sent to me in the next couple of days I just might make a post (or posts) out of them. Who knows? We might even make this into a regular thing.
- Happy Teachers, Smarter Kids (shoretelsky.com)
- Meet Casey And Brutus: The Man/Bear Bromance (buzzfeed.com)
- Details Schmetails (justbrutusandme.com)