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Revenge: sweet and not fattening

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What does one do when you have an awful week dealing with people who seem hell-bent on making your life completely miserable?

IT HAS been another miserable, frustrating, wretched week in Kimberley, I am sorry to report. Several tantrums were just narrowly avoided.

It felt as if I spent a lifetime delayed behind drivers who were driving slowly because they were either speaking into or texting on their cellphones.

Taxi drivers cut me off a few times and at other times flicked on their hazard indicators and just stopped as if they never had a care in the world, and as if I and my plans didn’t matter.

I spent almost R1 000 to fill my car’s tank … surely someone must be to blame for that. I want their names because I need someone specific to despise.

Also, my Martial Arts training came in handy this past week as I used my fancy footwork to dodge and evade ‘busy’ staff in the malls and supermarkets. I actually had to go home to look into the mirror to see if I was still visible.

The sad thing is, when I saw my reflection I checked for the contrast and clarity controls because, I reasoned, surely I didn’t look THAT bad. Unfortunately, mirrors with a middle-age smoothing filter haven’t been invented yet. So I have to soldier on with my rugged bad looks.

I took stock of all my pain and frustration thinking of what I could do to lash out, get payback and hurt the offensive brutes that had given me such a bad time and a few extra frown lines.

I actually started making brainstorming notes on my whiteboard – online complaints, angry Tweets, Facebook fury, cutting off taxis, loudly hooting at distracted drivers … Then, as I was doing it, I remembered what happened to my friend a few decades back. What I remembered made me clean off my whiteboard.

This friend (let’s call him Chip) was excited to learn that he would be studying in Cape Town post matric. He’d spent his entire life in Kimberley so when the opportunity came along to enter a tertiary institution in Bellville, Chip jumped at the chance.

He was so excited about being in the Cape and experiencing the rich culture that he left Kimberley just after New Year’s Day to be at the ‘Tweede Nuwe Jaar’ parade.

It didn’t end there. Chip wanted the full Cape experience so one hot February day after class he took the train to Three Anchor Bay where he bought himself the famous Cape Town speciality, a gatsby – a massive bread roll filled with chips and a choice of fillings and sauces.

He ordered a gatsby with everything. The sandwich, he said, loaded with every filling imaginable, was pretty heavy.

Salivating with anticipation, Chip went down to the beach, found a bench, opened his gatsby and reached for his bottle of soda, in awe of the perfect vibe around him.

Sadly, that’s when Chip’s happy Cape Town romance ended.

A seagull that had been perched nearby, swooped down and ‘confiscated’ Chip’s gatsby. He told us that he used very bad language that sunny afternoon when he declared war against what he called the ‘meeue’!

He didn’t care that people were staring and covering their children’s ears. He didn’t care that the soft-serve in the ice-cream truck nearby was turning sour due to his Northern Cape profanities. Chip wanted these Western Cape seagulls to know that he had been violated … they had done him wrong and he was fuming.

It didn’t end there though. From that day onward, whenever Chip had enough cash, he would take a trip down to Three Anchor Bay, buy himself a Gatsby and sit in a spot near the meeue with his gatsby in plain sight, hoping beyond hope that they would come near enough so that he could shout obscenities at them.

To this day it is rumoured that the meeue at Three Anchor Bay have self-esteem problems. Ornithologists are baffled, but I am not surprised.

No, not really … the gulls couldn’t give a hoot. They don’t even remember Chip and his gatsby. From the point that the gulls devoured his lunch there was a dividing of paths. The birds’ lives went on while all Chip could think of was how he could make them regret having crossed his path. Lust for vengeance succeeded in souring his Cape adventure.

So though I endured another miserable, frustrating, wretched week in Kimberley, I am glad to say that remembering Chip’s ‘meeu-experience’ helped me to vent the appropriate amount of anger but then immediately move on.

Revenge and plans of vengeance are just draining. It takes too much time, effort and resources that I just cannot afford any more. I’d rather use that time to pursue things that will make me happier and the coming week brighter.

It was Alfred Hitchcock who wrote: “Revenge is sweet and not fattening”. I will admit, that sounds really, really tempting. But Marcus Aurelius counters that logic … he wrote: “The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”

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