Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Art of Revenge

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but according to my word count, this one is apparently worth 1053.  But before I explain the photo above, I have to explain the picture in my hands…

I’m not sure how it started, but for the past several years, my wife’s cousin, Renee, and I have engaged in a bit of a battle – oh wait, I do know how it started – I was cleaning out our basement and came across a load of wedding gifts that we had never used/opened (crystal serving pieces, candle holders, etc.) and rather than throw them out, I thought it would be funny to enroll Renee in the “Gift of the Month” club, where I would secretly send her the items every few weeks. So I boxed up some of the things, took it down to the post office, and sent it away. It cost a few bucks, but it was worth it for both the joke and never having to see that stuff again. Or so I thought.

I came home one day to find the same box sitting on my front porch with its original contents and a bunch of Renee’s unwanted items inside, including what looked to be the entire contents of her kitchen junk drawer.  Now, as someone who likes to dish it out, I can take it – but – while I appreciated her retaliation, I did not think it fair that she returned my stuff along with hers.  She should have at least kept the crystal napkin rings, right? But I soon learned Renee plays by her own rules, and thus a war was born.

I responded by secretly placing a very large sign in her front yard advertising a free cat spaying clinic (complete with pictures of Renee and her husband holding up cats by the tails and brandishing hedge clippers.) Unfortunately she found the sign before anyone could take her up on her services -  she also somehow found the time to stick a large “Gay Pride” magnet on the passenger side of my truck – which I drove around with for months before noticing it.

Things settled down for a while, until one day I came home from dropping my wife, Sarah, off at her baby shower, and found a beautiful gift basket on my porch. It was wrapped in cellophane and had a nice note explaining how while all the ladies were at the party, I should have some snacks to munch on as well. It was so nice, I didn’t even open it, as I wanted Sarah to see how thoughtful her friends were. When she came home, we opened it together, and inside were just these awful, awful things: kippered herring, creamed chipped beef, pork rinds, some sort of curdled tofu in red sauce. Just gross, nasty things. But it was so artfully arranged and the note so sincere, I still didn’t suspect Renee. I just figured my wife’s hippie friends had strange tastes in junk food. I even talked to Renee about it one night on the phone, telling her how afraid I was to open to the paneer tika masala, but she convinced me to settle my curiosity. It wasn’t until I opened the box and pulled out the foil packet inside and saw the photo of Renee’s daughter glaring at me that I knew I had been had again.

I bided my time, knowing revenge would be sweet (but also recognizing by now, short lived, for as soon as I responded, Renee would come back twice as hard.) My revenge took almost a year, during which I kept warning her how screwed she was, that my plan was so evil and well-crafted, it would haunt her forever. She laughed it off, claimed I was full of hot air, and let down her guard. And that’s when my book came out, complete with a nice paragraph in the end “thanking” Renee for all her hard work running the kissing booth outside the local woman’s prison. She was mortified, and I was avenged.

Again I thought things were settled. We were even. Game over. But then came a rapid series of responses: a pair of Scarface sneakers, some embarrassing photos, and “presents” left about the house after every visit (Monkey Butt Powder, a tissue box with my face on it and Kleenex coming out my nose, etc.) I figured I deserved it, and pretty much let her run free for a while, save for the Linda McMahon bumper sticker I put on her car.

Then, this Christmas, while taking all the decorations out of the attic, I found an ancient ceramic jar filled with individually wrapped biscotti. So of course I wrapped it up and gave it to Renee the night she invited us over for a holiday party. She knew something was amiss when she noticed some unidentified goo stuck to the side, but she went ahead and opened it anyway.  I warned everyone not to eat them, but every time Renee looked away, I would take one and hide it in her house, Easter Bunny style.

Which brings is, finally, to the photo above, where you see me enjoying the best gift I’ve gotten in years. And believe it or not, it was from Renee. A few months back, we were at a cousin’s house for a birthday party, and we all admired a framed photo-illustration of his last name, with each letter an actual photograph of something resembling the letter. So when I opened my gift and saw my last name depicted in such a manner, I was touched that Renee remembered that I had liked the idea and would care enough to track one down for me. Until a closer inspection revealed that each letter was made up of one of the “gifts” I had bestowed on her in the past!

Look closely and you’ll see that the W is formed from broken biscotti, the O a bowl of Jell-O, the other O a wood-burned cat off of a plaque I bought at a shop that sold items made by inmates, and the D the handle to a “I Love My Teacher” mug that I gave her last year. 

It was the perfect gift. A wonderful mix of clever creativity and subtle snarkyness  that was both thoughtful and spiteful, proving once and for all that revenge can be sweet!

Me and my nemesis (note the 40 oz "gift" she gave me)


  1. ~Wow, that Renee is a crafty one. I am impressed. Here I thought the crappy 2.99 bottle of wine you regifted to us (in a lovely box)and got back this year for your birthday was clever. ~Not so much apparently.

    Great Blog Mikey. Perfect read with my a.m. coffee.

  2. By the way, what in the world is Monkey Butt Powder??

  3. Several years ago while cleaning my incredibly clustered attic I came upon a treasure. There it was crunched into a ball in the corner. As I reached through the piles of dust in that dark corner it appeared...could it really be and it was!!!! A mans tie, made of silk with cues of orange and THE MOST LOVELY ARMADILLO in the center. "What are the chances?!?!?!?" Thanks for inspiring outrageous laughter & near incontinence throughout the years!!!! Now, onto the next!!!

  4. we have an award waiting for you at our blog.

  5. Great stuff! Renee, you are in inspiration ... hats off! :)

  6. Honestly, I've been wondering about you and your weird photos. This explains a lot (although I still wonder about you a little). . .

  7. Love that gift and the genuis behind it.