Not the big hurts and betrayals that you grieve over, nurse for years, take to therapy. Not the stuff of broken hearts. Just the little insults that continue to gnaw at you, sometimes years later.

Sure, it takes energy to sustain a grudge, and usually it’s easier just to let the offense fade into the past and be forgotten. It’s better for you in the long run. Who wants to carry around a mental hit list? Let the laws of karma sort it out. But sometimes, every now and then, the grudge wins.

Michele: I lent you my first edition of The Secret History, a treasured possession I used to pull down from the shelf and read every fall as the weather started to turn crisp, the first notes of frost and wood smoke entered the air, and I craved a good murder mystery. You returned it (!) warped and covered with mildew, explaining, “I was using it to hold a window open and it rained.”

Rob: When you suggested we have lunch I agreed, even though we weren’t really even friends in high school. I almost felt sorry for you⎯your creepy enthusiasm. Then you stood me up! How many glasses of ice water did the smirking waiter bring me before I realized what was happening?

Jen: You promised that Sun-In wouldn’t turn my hair orange. Thanks for that clownish eighth-grade class picture.

Jayne: I heard what you said when I called⎯ “No, no, don’t pick up! Tell her I’m not here.” Ouch.

Maria: You were the new girlfriend that my dear friend A. was completely gaga over. You guys came to stay for a long weekend. “Let us chip in for dinner,” A. said, coming into the living room after I paid the deliveryman one night. “Oh, don’t worry honey, I took care of it,” you said. You guessed (correctly) that I would never call out a houseguest in a lie. You shot me a triumphant look: it said, I dare you to make A. choose between us.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Only an act of will keeps you out of the “heartbreak” category. Damn you for making me love a %&*(#% TV show, then sucking so bad in the last two seasons that you stomped all over my fangirl heart. Damn you for killing off my favorite character so ignominiously. Seven years on, and you still piss me off.

Erin: You gave me a tarantula one year for my birthday. Who the hell does that? What does it mean?

What are your grudges? How do you let them go?

7 responses to “Grudges”

  1. What!? You got a tarantula for your birthday? What an awesome, awesome present!

  2. Tim says:

    I read this post early this morning when I couldn’t sleep for a bit and then went back to sleep and had a dream in which I sent you a care package to compensate for some of these wrongs. I hope it gets there soon! You’ll have to go to sleep to get it, though.

    P.S. I’d think that an actual, real live tarantula would be a strangely awful gift, unless one were an arachnophile and owned a proper terrarium in which to keep it. Tarantulas are scary mofos. Moreover, a rubber tarantula, unless accompanied by another, more appropriate gift, could send a weird message or two: “I think you’re a poisonous hairy spider” or “I hope you get bitten by a poisonous hairy spider.”

  3. I still remember meaningless situations in which someone, say, was needlessly rude to me or cut me off in traffic. We’re talking years later. It’s not like they plague me but if I deliberately call them to mind, I can feel just as angry as I did when they happened, and there must be something gratifying about doing so because I sometimes do.

    Tarantulas aren’t poisonous, though. For some reason I knew this though until I was about 21 I was arachnophobic, and have never exactly been philic.

  4. swells says:

    I have to tell you that I just can’t get past that one about paying the delivery person, and I read it hours ago. Scottt and I were just talking about it and agreed that we wouldn’t mind an entire post on just that story, for more details. Truly, that behavior is nothing less than psychotic.

    Love the post! And before I realized that that was a giant chip on that woman’s shoulder in the last photo, I first thought “Wait–is that actually Rachel with the Sun-In?”

  5. Rachel says:

    When you give a tarantula to someone who doesn’t particularly like spiders, it’s kind of hostile, right? It requires a special tank thingie, and a light, and feeding it live crickets!! Ugh.

    Tim, thanks for the care package! I am asleep right now and I love it.

    Unfortunately, Swells, it kind of ended the friendship. I couldn’t bear to bring it up, but couldn’t ignore it either, so our contact just sort of withered. One of my biggest regrets.

    This is a good place to add that lots of people probably *should* begrudge me certain behaviors, but they don’t, and I’m grateful.

  6. Yeah, no, I guess a pet that you don’t enjoy caring for would be a weird/bad present. Seems like it would be a good present if I were the recipient, but then, in your story I was not. Did you keep it and care for it? Did it find its spidery way into your heart? And agree with Swells, that paying for dinner story just takes the cake.

  7. LP says:

    Rachel, I loved this post. It’s funny the things that stick in your head, even years later, while other slights are forgotten. I tend to hold grudges when people condescend to me in some fashion – it’s a very hard thing for me to get over.

    If someone gave me a tarantula, I don’t even know what I’d say. Did you remain friends with Erin? Did she ever get the fact that it wasn’t maybe the best gift ever?