Granny panties, size XL, beige, used. They’d arrived in a plain brown envelope accompanied by a single tea towel dated to the ’70′s by the brown mushrooms that covered it. This was hardly what a girl dreams of getting for her all-important 12th birthday and yet there it was. But the worst part wasn’t the suspicious stains (30-year-old coffee grounds or something more sinister?), it was that this was the only present my grandmother ever gave me. USED UNDERWEAR. She wasn’t demented, not yet anyhow, and this – this package of garbage with my name misspelled on it, to add insult to injury – was the final straw. From that day on I decided I was done with Nana. (Although I did always win the “worst present ever” game so there is that?)
“TJ is a butt turd!” My 10-year-old self sat back to admire my handiwork: drawn in permanent purple, in foot-high letters, right on the front porch. So everyone who came to our house would know exactly what kind of kid my little brother was. To this day I don’t remember what he had done that so incensed me that I thought this was an appropriate response but I do remember being super proud of myself. All the way until my parents saw it (and my brother’s scribbled response on the sidewalk) and made us spend an afternoon scrubbing concrete with bleach.
Ah, revenge gone awry. Good times! (Some other time we’ll have to talk about revenge with unintended consequences…)
But revenge isn’t just a theme for childhood fantasies and TV dramas (that star sweet, vapid Amy from Everwood as Hampton’s ninja Emily/Amanda – I still can’t wrap my brain around that one). Unfortunately as we get older and more aware of the injustices of life, it becomes more infectious. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.