The absolute best way to get revenge

Photo by Stas Svechnikov on Unsplash

One of my exes waved at me from the bar. The one who dumped me via post-it note, then had sex with my best friend the same night. Trevor. This’ll be good, I thought to myself. I ordered a double.

When I walked up, he congratulated me on my engagement and told me all the exciting changes in his own life. Like giving up on med school to become an Uber driver. Wait, that wasn’t it.

The Uber thing was temporary. The big news? He was planning to start flight school next month. The epiphany had hit him last night. Some ideas inflict blunt force trauma.

I’ve smiled three times in my life. That night was one of them. I’m sorry you missed it. “Congratulations!” I said. He offered me a hug, and I accepted. One arm hug. Christian side hug.

Trevor was also going to write a memoir called, “From Doctor to Pilot: From the Emergency Room to a Cockpit in the Clouds.”

My moment of revenge came when I corrected him on the title. “But…you weren’t a doctor yet. So is that really accurate? Also, do you want your title and subtitle to both have the same prepositional phrase?”

Oh, no I didn’t. Snap. Yes, I did. The best kind of burn comes with ice. I’d laid it on with cold indifference.

You know those movies based on real life? The ones where they freeze the frame on a character, and a bio flashes up beneath them? In white lettering? Yeah. This one would’ve read: “Trevor never became a pilot. He works as a regional manager at Verizon.” Seriously, I just checked. We’re still Facebook friends for some weird reason.

Ah, Facebook. The archive of old friends and flings.

There’s nothing wrong with working as a regional manager. He might even make more money than me. The important part — If I traveled back in time and told the early 20s Trevor that he’d become a regional sales manager instead of a doctor/pilot/model, he’d have a breakdown.

Sometimes you get revenge without asking or wanting it. Bonus revenge. Halfway through grad school, I met up with a high school fling. Christian. That was his name, and also his religion. Catholic, to be precise. Sophomore year, he turned my heart into a voodoo doll.

The years weren’t kind to Christian. After high school, he developed a drug problem and dropped out of college. Gained weight. Lost his charm.

All this unbeknownst to me. Mid 20s, I tried to reconnect with my old high school friends. Largely a mistake, I learned the hard way.

Christian still sounded the same over the phone. Despite the lack of recent photos on Facebook, I figured he hadn’t changed much. We talked for a couple of hours and flirted. I looked forward to seeing him.

And then we met up for coffee — me, Christian, a few friends. He didn’t even have a car. Caught a ride with someone else. Flopped into his chair, wearing a wife beater. He looked like a dead fish. Didn’t even talk that much. Except to glance me up and down and say, “Wow, you look the exact same.” Before leaving our table to flirt with the barista.

The barista listened to his awkward come on and replied, “Are you asking for a refill, sir?” We all watched him as he leaned over the counter and stared at her ass while she fetched more coffee. She turned and said, “You can have a seat. I’ll bring it to you.” Oh, no she didn’t. Snap. Yeah, she did.

That day, I learned three things. Revenge comes when you least expect it. You might not even realize you wanted revenge. Finally, the best revenge has nothing to do with you. It just happens.

You never really earn revenge. The best way to even come close is to stop trying. Planning revenge takes years. By the time you achieve it, the person who wronged you no longer exists.

The Trevor I dated of yesteryear lives only in my memories. Same thing with Christian. I’m not even angry at them anymore. Why? I’ve got 84 percent of everything I want from life. That’s better than I ever thought I’d achieve.

If you’ve learned anything from literature, it’s that revenge never works out. Nobody ever walks away from revenge. No, your only revenge comes from happenstance. Live your life. Maybe you’ll win out against lovers who fucked you over. Or you won’t.

The idea of revenge is still powerful, though. It can push us past boundaries, energize us when we feel like giving up. Basically, we can harness our vengeful thoughts to get some real work done.

I’m not talking about sabotaging a rival. Ruining a nemesis. We all fantasize about that sometimes. But it never happens the way we want. The best revenge comes about when you play by the rules and still win.

If anything, the idea of revenge motivates me. I play little mind games with myself. This editor. That agent. Some old teacher. My entire life, I’ve used their dismissal or humiliation as fuel.

Sometimes, you have to give up on revenge. I’m still waiting on revenge against my kindergarten teacher, who yelled in my face and told my parents I’d grow up to be a truck stop stripper. She’s probably dead. Does that count as revenge? Sure hope so. Because I don’t want to have to track down my kindergarten teacher. That sounds hard.

We probably mistake revenge for a higher emotion. Vindication. The idea of revenge sounds nice until you really think about it. An act of revenge means you have to purposefully plot harm to someone else. Not a great emotional state, to imagine yourself as the cause of someone else’s ruin. Even if you somehow think they deserve it.

Wanting revenge means someone who hurt you still matters. When they no longer do, your need for blood fades. I’d rather overcome my thirst than drink Trevor’s blood — the Mr. Post-it Note. His blood has probably gone sour anyway. And who wants sour blood? Yuck.