Monday, February 22, 2010

Seriously - Don't Mess With Me

by Sophie


Everyone thinks I'm such a nice person.

Oh, in many ways, I suppose I am. I try to do more good than harm, give my all to being a worthy parent, and attempt to encourage and appreciate the people around me. I was raised to be polite, including the old-fashioned values of modesty and deferring to others. I believe in the value of social conventions like pleasant greetings and good conversation and the currency of favors.

But I do not care to be crossed.

If someone deliberately threatens, harms, or betrays me or mine, my rage is immeasurable. And I can hold a grudge nearly forever.

In the past few years, a number of people have earned my wrath. As my friends can attest, I do not forget. I add it to the simmering brew in my soul, a sort of sourdough starter for vengeance.

I do not react quickly. Usually, I do not react at all, at least in perceptible ways. I don't key people's cars or hack their facebook pages or even undermine them subtly in conversation.

No, what I do is even worse: I wait.

I wait with the unshakeable conviction that my self-justified rage is enough to tip the balance of the universe, in the long run, in ways that will restore balance. By not getting on their level and fighting back, I don't risk damaging my own karma; I sleep fine at night. But I do send red-hot mental poxes their way with the expectation that misfortune will follow. And you know what - freakily, frighteningly, it often does.

I will tell you only the tiniest historic example rather than risk upsetting the delicate balance of the Soph-iverse by revealing any situations still in play:

Many years ago I belonged to a different RWA chapter in another state. 99.9% of the members were lovely. One was not. In fact, she was rude, condescending, and mean. She had several books out, and I had only enthusiasm, ideas, and a lame first manuscript. She took many opportunities to remind me that I was lesser: unwelcome to hang out with the "real" writers, unqualified to give my opinion, uninitiated into the inner circle of publishing. Every snub hurt, though I tried not to show it at the time.

Fast forward many, many years. I still see her, every year, at the national conference. She doesn't remember me. I don't acknowledge her. But I outlasted her. I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say that she isn't at the top of any bestseller lists.

Never in a million years will I tell her name. First of all, it feels kind of...mean. Now that she's the one who's struggling, I don't want to be the person who gloats or takes any success I've had for granted. And second, it's just possible that I was wr...that I was wr-wr-wr...that I was (someone smack me on the back and fast) wr-WRONG! Okay, okay, it's possible that I was wrong. That she truly is a lovely gal who just didn't care for me. It happens. *

Just for balance, I'll tell you one author who was much, much nicer to me than she ever had to be, and encouraged me to keep writing: Martha Powers. Just in case you find this through google alerts or something Martha - BIG THANKS! You rock!

* for anyone who doubts that it happens - that there are people who don't care for me for no good reason - i give you exhibit A, our regular waitress at the venue where my RWA chapter has its monthly meetings. "She don't care for me," I observed one recent Saturday when she'd scowled and sighed and smirked her way through our lunch. This surprised me mostly because I usually have great waitress rapport, having been one for a zillion years - we sorta stick together, the sisterhood. Anyway the next month when the gal snapped and spat and did everything but pour tea in my lap, my friend says to me "She sure doesn't like you." See? It wasn't in my head! This one, however, requires no revenge; I figure a monthly encounter with two dozen rowdy RWA members is punishment enough...


Pamela Cayne said...

It makes me feel better than I'm not the only one who lets their grudges simmer down and reduce into a thick sludgy mass of undiluted vitriol where one single drop could take out a whole forest full of cute fuzzy creatures. Thank God we're writers and can exorcise our rage on the paper people!

Thanks for a great post!

Sophie Littlefield said...

Pamela - that was awesome! A much better description of the revenge-state. :) and I'll be sure never to cross you, not even fictionally!

Rachael said...

That WAS a great post. And you're right, that waitress thing was weird. She smiled at me and then snarled at you -- I've never seen anything like it.

Martha Flynn said...

"sourdough starter for vengeance" if I had a time machine I'd kill you and take credit for this

Sophie Littlefield said...

But then I'd have to avenge my death from the great beyond, M!!

Juliet Blackwell said...

Love this whole essay, of course. Problem is, following you and Rachael is pretty tough! You take all my thoughts, except express them better than I ever could! Hey -- totally with you on the karma police. They take care of everything, eventually ;)

Adrienne Bell said...

I would never even think of messing with you, Sophie. I would just quietly slink away.

SophieLittlefieldFanClub said...

Sophie, any one who doesn't like you is an idiot. And I'll tell em so right to their face. Send me names and addresses. I'll have a slithery backup on this as well.

PS Weren't you nominated for a prestigious national award this year?? Selected by your peers? Out of HUNDREDS, you were chosen as a finalist?? (I can make sure ol Sourpuss hears about THAT too)

Unknown said...

Your good opinion once lost is lost forever? Hey, you're Mr. Darcy!

Sophie Littlefield said...

Holy shit! I have a FAN CLUB!! I'm going to faint dead away now (fan, fan, fan, fanning self) I so love having people who love me. Yep, that is the best thing in the world. And you know what - I love y'all back.

Sophie Littlefield said...

OMG Jane - who knew!! That's so cool. I kind of lied though. The truth is that once enough time goes by, my white-hot rage burns down to ash, and I'm all civilized and all again.

Trust - maybe not. But friendly-like. And if I live long enough I expect I'll be positively Zennish.

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