Monday, December 8, 2014

When Revenge Is Bitter, Not Sweet

One of the worst dates I ever went on was with a very good-looking personal trainer. We went out for dinner, and we'd barely been talking for a more than few minutes before he said, "I just remembered that I have to be somewhere else tonight." He claimed that he had to go to some other event at a club that same night, but he didn't ask me to go with him. The date ended about an hour later, at 8 P.M. on a Friday night. I've had coffee dates that lasted longer than that.

After I watched him take off like the Road Runner, leaving a cloud of dust behind, I realized that I'd had the date that is every dater's nightmare: the kind where you show up and your date immediately decides, "No. NEVER going to happen." And you're left to fall face-first into a tub of ice cream.

When I was in junior high, I went to a school dance and asked a boy that I had a crush on to dance with me. He said no, and when people later asked why he'd turned me down, he said something derogatory about me (though not to my face). He went to a different high school, but he resurfaced a couple years later when he started dating my best friend.

He tried to destroy my friendship with my best friend, because he convinced her that the only reason I hated him was because he'd rejected me at that junior high dance. What neither of them was willing to believe was that I hated him because he was manipulative, deceitful, and a snob. He was rude to me and to my other friends, who also disliked him.

I recently read an article about a girl who got revenge against a a guy who used to be mean to her in junior high. Apparently she was kind of "awkward-looking" in junior high, and he and his friends used to bully her. Years later, they reconnected on Facebook, and she had become more attractive, so he asked her out.

Her idea of "revenge" against her former bully was to agree to go on a date with him, but she later stood him up. He waited for her at the restaurant where they agreed to meet, but she got a waitress to give him this note:

The girl, Louisa Manning, wrote this:

"Hey, so sorry I can't join you tonight. Remember year 8, when I was fat and you made fun of my weight? No? I do - I spent the following three years eating less than an apple a day so I've decided to skip dinner. Remember the monobrow you mocked? The hairy legs you were disgusted by?

Remember how every day for three years you and your friends called me Manbeast? No, perhaps you don't or you wouldn't have seen how I look eight years after and deemed me f**** enough to treat me like a human being. I thought I'd send you this as a reminder. Next time you think of me, picture that girl in this photo because that's the one who stood you up."

Her note made me think of those two jerks in particular who rejected me. I haven't seen either of those creeps in years, but I admit that if I ever did see them again, I'd feel a sense of satisfaction at making them see what big tools they both were. Of course, in that fantasy, I'd look a lot like Sofia Vergara (aka Gloria on Modern Family) and they'd both be kicking themselves for being mean to me. I don't harbor any romantic feelings for either of them, of course, but it'd still be nice to get back at them.

But unlike every person who was ever mean to me, Louisa Manning's former bully apologized to her. He wrote her a note saying that he wasn't the same person that he used to be and that he was sorry for how he treated her in the past.

On the one hand, I can understand this girl's desire for revenge. I remember very well what it was like to be bullied. I was bullied from first grade until I graduated from high school. As we all know, kids can be very cruel, especially if another kid is "different" in any way. And when you're a teenager in particular, all you want to do is fit in, and it's very painful if some people are determined to prevent you from ever doing that.

But on the other hand, I think what Louisa did to that guy was also cruel, thoughtless, and humiliating. She should have just been up front with him when he first asked her out. Instead she led him on and got his hopes up, only to crush them in the end. In my opinion, the former victim became a bully herself, and I don't think that's right.

Do I have any choice words for the people who used to bully me, like the classmates who spread the false rumor that I was a lesbian because I never dated in high school? Yes, I DO have some choice words for them, most of which are four-letter words. Do I wish I could reenact a scene from any Jackie Chan movie if I got the chance to confront one of the boys or girls who used to knock books out of my hands, throw balls at my face in gym class, call me names, and make fun of my hair, clothes, and shoes?  I would like to fight them Jackie Chan-style, so that they would cower in fear and never hurt anyone ever again. 

But would I do what Louisa Manning did? NO. In my opinion, she lowered herself to the level of her former bullies, and she became one of them, at least for one night. I think that she should have just moved on with her life, rather than treat that guy the same way that he used to treat her. 

What do you think? Do you think what she did was right, or can you relate to her? (And like I said, I do relate to her on some level, and I won't condemn you, of course, if you agree with her.) What would you do if you had the chance to confront a former bully?


  1. I'm sorry you had to put up with either jerks. I would probably have punched him in the face for having the nerve to ask me out after being mean to me before. Unfortunately I live in a small town and end up seeing all the people who hated me on a regular basis, but at least they have the smarts to pretend they don't know me anymore, instead of continuing their taunts. Yeah, I guess I have anger issues.

    1. Hi Murees,
      I'm willing to bet that those bullies pretend not to know you because they are in denial that they ever mistreated you; people like that often act like they never did anything wrong. And I don't think you have anger issues, because you had a right to be angry; I was angry too when people were mean to me.

  2. I'm torn. I think the note was great - concise and full of impact. The writer in me wants to steal it for a short story. But I wouldn't do it myself - like you say, it's equally as cruel.

    Your personal trainer date sounds like a moron!

    1. HI Annalisa,
      That guy was a moron; the only thing he liked to talk about was exercise, and he didn't even try to be polite to me. I should have just ended the date as soon as he made up that lame excuse.
      You're right that that note could be the seed for a short story; it's actually a pretty interesting premise. I actually found Louisa Manning's Twitter page; now she keeps bragging and retweeting other people's Tweets about how "famous" she's become due to the fact that her "revenge note" went viral. She doesn't sound like a very nice person at all.

  3. I do not think Louisa stooped to the level of bullies. She scolded a grown man through a note while he was sitting alone at a restaurant. She didn't publicly tell a teenager he was disgusting and useless. There is a difference.
    Personally, I have very little sympathy with outright bullies, especially if they are old enough to know that what they are doing is wrong.

    1. Hi Julie,
      I can see what you mean, but she still publicly embarrassed that guy because she posted the note online and it went viral. On her Twitter page she's made it very clear that she's enjoying her fifteen minutes of fame, which were earned at someone else's expense.
      But like you, I don't sympathize with bullies, because even as a teenager that guy who bullied her knew on some level that what he did was wrong.

  4. Well, it's like I used to tell my kids: I'd rather they BE the one who was bullied rather than the one doing the bullying. Because something happens inside to someone who bullies or is cruel to another person. And it stays within them for a very long time and is not an attractive thing. Revenge isn't about re-bullying the bully but should be about rising above the awful experiences and realizing these people who hurt us are shallow and cruel and not even worthy of our attention. Personally, I believe in forgiveness not in revenge.

    1. Hi Karen,
      You're right; living well really is the best revenge. I have to admit, though, that it's still difficult for me to forgive some of the people who bullied me when I was in school. I still remember that girl that I used to be and how they'd laugh when they made me cry; there is a part of me that wants to make THEM cry. But I know that that would not necessarily make me feel better. I think that forgiveness might, though.
      What Louisa did proved that she wasn't willing to forgive that guy; she may have succeeded in making him look bad, but I don't think she made herself look that great either.