Monday, January 19, 2009

Vengeance Is Mine Inc.

Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge.
-- Paul Gaugain

Just recently, I came across a short story by Roald Dahl entitled "Vengeance Is Mine, Inc.". The story centres around a couple of guys who think they can make a quick buck by carrying out revenge on behalf of third parties. You even get your choice of vengeance - with options ranging from a punch in the nose to letting a de-venomed rattlesnake loose in the car of the person who wronged you. Even though the scheme ultimately fails and drives the guys out of town, I couldn't help but think it was a bloody good idea for a business. It's probably a sad indictment of my personality that when Clever Boyfriend asked me if I had any New Year's Resolutions, I immediately thought of revenging myself upon an ex-boss who ruined my finances and self-esteem in 2008.

I've been warned that revenge is unsatisfying, but then again it can't be universally unsatisfying thanks to the numerous immortal quotes on the subject. For example, the Japanese say that revenge is a dish best served cold. The Talmud says that living well is the best revenge, and even JFK said "don't get mad, get even". Many others disagree, including Juvenal, who stated that revenge is for fools - but did express his belief that "noone rejoices in revenge more than woman".

Oh, snap.

Clever Father usually pledges the Eastern solution - don't fuck your karma up with hate, and forgive your enemies. In theory. He got the best quick revenge I've ever seen done - and enjoyed it enough to cast some serious doubt upon Juvenal's little theory of gender disparity.

Years ago, when I was a teenager, my parents lived in a semi-rural area, where you have to go up a long bush driveway to the house. It also happens to be near a church, so on Sundays the quiet little street is packed with cars. And one Sunday night there was a vicious thunderstorm. I had driven my old banger back from uni, squinting through the rain, only to find that someone had parked across our driveway, blocking access in and out as completely as if the road didn't exist. I swore and cursed a lot as I tried to rain-proof myself and my textbooks for the long walk up the driveway.

I needn't have bothered. I was soaked before I was halfway up. It was pitch dark, and impossible to avoid the ankle-deep puddles snaking through the mud driveway, which was half demolished with rain. By the time I got to the house, my books were stuck together. Clever Father opened the door for me with a bemused smile.

"Dad. Some complete prick has parked across our driveway."

"I know," he says, continuing to smile. "Did you get a look at his tyres?"

Dad hadn't gone so far as slashing them, but it turns out he had let them all down. We had a great laugh over that as I wrung the rain out of my hair and spread my notes in front of the heater to dry. Revenge can be extremely satisfying. Just watch Kill Bill. In this case though, revenge was best served smokin' hot.

So, would you be tempted to use a service such as Vengeance Is Mine Inc.?

And is Juvenal correct when he says that women enjoy vengeance more than men?

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