Sure, you could resort to superglue to get even with a cheating lover — but isn't living well the best revenge? In “The Down and Dirty Dish on Revenge,” author Eva Nagorski offers advice on how to put a cap on vengeful thoughts and come out on top. An excerpt.
Let’s cut to the chase.
After a long, arduous day at the office, you return home to find your husband, gagged and being spanked with a cane by some goth-chick smoking a cigar and reciting the poetry of E.E. Cummings. Needless to say, they expected you home much later.
Your boyfriend has been putting off marriage for three years, and recently told you that he wants to be single again. All of this information was administered via text message. WTF?!
You put your husband through law school on your measly waitress salary where you got top honors for pulling more double-shifts than that century-old restaurant had ever recalled. But he kept saying he wasn't ready for kids. Now, he’s recently decided it's over between you two, handed you divorce papers and schtuped some fashion-designer wanna-be who’s ten years younger than you. That skinny bit** is now pregnant with twins.
So, do you feel “it” yet? “It” being the unmistakable pain of being cheated on, lied to or dumped. It’s a feeling you wish would go away. You’ve found yourself in a disgusting state: splayed on the couch with bits of vanilla heath bar melted into your cashmere sweater and ginger cookie crumbs caught in your zipper. Basically, you’ve turned into a pathetic bag of bitter skin and self-hating congestion.
But then, as time moves on, the pain does begin to go away — or rather, turn into something else. It morphs into a different emotion, a different intangible. An incredible transformation of nature takes place, like a moth emerging from a chrysalis. Your bitter skin hardens, your congestion from crying turns into snarls and your mind begins to swirl. Suddenly, food begins to taste better. You see, hear and focus on things you’ve never seen, heard or focused on before: birds singing in the dusk, the evening news anchorman’s jaw line, a rug in your house. You begin forgetting about the good times you had with your lover or husband, and begin re-living the bad times over and over again. The remnants of his things that he’s planned to pick up no longer make you sad; rather, they begin taunting you, regardless of how small they are: his hair still clinging to the white bar of soap, his chocolate syrup loitering in the fridge, his wetsuit hanging in the garage.
You begin to feel scorn. It manifests into hate. And then, with a rush, you experience an epiphany. You see a vision in your mind: your ex suffering just like you have, feeling what you’ve felt, getting what you’ve gotten. And the sinister serum of vengeance floods into your bloodstream from some undiscovered reservoir located somewhere between your left ventricle and your medulla. We’ll call it the “retaliation gland.”
You start thinking about how tomorrow doesn’t look so cloudy anymore, how tomorrow is going to be different for you. You’re ready to move on, but first, you have a couple “i”s to dot and some “t”s to cross. You have a favor to repay. Thinking about it makes you angry but it also makes you hungry. Hungry for revenge.
This will be your fully-loaded, maxed-out, juiced-up book on how people devise, execute and relish revenge. If revenge was a martial art, this book would be your dojo and the pages your sensei. If revenge was an automobile, you’re currently reading the manual. If revenge was a casserole, this would be your recipe book.
Sure, there are those who heed the Latin proverb: “Revenge is a confession of pain.” Well, those people can bite me. This is the kind of Latin I can groove with: “Aut vincere aut mori.” Either conquer or die.
This book will let you live vicariously through people who have experienced the deed of exacting intoxicating, imaginative and cold revenge. It will also dissect, investigate and apply “revenge” historically, anecdotally and comically. Samuel Beckett wrote in his play, Endgame, “Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.” Let’s see who’s laughing now.
Vicarious revengeI was once involved in revenge. But mine was purely vicarious. In 2006, I was hired by the advertising company, Deep Focus, to be the writer of the blog, “That Girl Emily,” Court TV’s highly successful and award-winning marketing campaign for their television program, Parco P.I.
The fictional “Emily,” a typical suburban wife, found out that her husband was cheating on her. So instead of taking it lying down, she declared on her blog “14 Days of Wrath,” targeting her husband. On the first day, she announced that she would tell the whole world about his infidelity and paltry sexual equipment by taking out billboard ads in New York and Los Angeles that said:
Do I have your attention now? I know all about her, you dirty, sneaky, immoral, unfaithful, poorly-endowed slimeball. Everything’s caught on tape.
Your (soon-to-be-ex) Wife,
P.S. I paid for this billboard from OUR joint bank account.”
People would stand mystified in the middle of Times Square, staring at the billboard, amazed and intrigued that some scorned woman would have the ovaries to do that to her husband. Cell phone photos were spread across cyberspace and the marketing campaign erupted in all its viral glory to email accounts everywhere in the world.
Within two weeks, over two million people had clicked onto “Emily’s” blog. The outpouring of emails and support to “Emily’s” cause was simply awesome. Countless emails from South Carolina to Sweden, Iceland to Indonesia, Russia to Rome came pouring in, proclaiming that “Emily” had inspired them, was their hero, and gave them strength to get through their own similar heartbreak. Radio and television stations wanted interviews with Emily, women wanted advice, men wanted dates. Husbands and wives would admit sitting together with their coffee and pouring over “Emily’s” blog every morning. It was surprising to see the number of men who wrote in support of Emily, saying they, too, had been cheated on and hurt.
There were those who were angry or felt duped when they found out that “Emily” wasn’t a real person. But, on the whole, even those who found out she was make-believe continued to read and show support for Emily. “Emily is really an amalgam of all of us who have been cheated on,” Marc Juris, general manager for programming and marketing at Court TV at the time, told The New York Times. “Clearly, this really resonated with people.”
Excerpted with permission from “The Down and Dirty Dish on Revenge” by Eva Nagorski (Thomas Dunne Books).