I’ve never been good at confrontation. Who knows why this is – fear of anger, abandonment, a literal pie to the face – but the interesting (read: TOTALLY PREDICTABLE) thing about it is: The Grudge. Not the movie starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as a hot, tormented blonde, of course. No. What I mean is holding a grudge. If you’re bad at confrontation, if you live in constant fear of telling the world at large what you actually think, you wind up with, approximately, 8,000,510 things to still be mad about. If I had my way, I would happily list each and every one of those eight million plus to you, right now, in these interwebular pages. But as certain dreams do not come true, I won’t. What I’ll do instead is tell you of the worst offensives, of the three crazy enemies who dared to commit them, and why I will never forgive them. EVER.
1. My landlord. If you live in New York, which I do, there’s a risk you run in any apartment you will ever rent, and that is the possibility of scoring a slumlord for a landlord. This, I’m sad to tell you, is what happened to me. His offenses are too numerous to count, but just for a taste: He refuses to provide, 1) adequate heat, 2) exterminators to tend to the burgeoning mice problem, and 3) timely repairs to various dysfunctional appliances, including – but not limited to! – my 50-year-old toilet.
For the purposes of this piece, I’d like to go into greater detail on the heat issue. This was four years ago, and I’d recently moved in. It was the dead of winter. Not only that, it was that sort of dead of winter that makes you feel like, “God. Why does anyone live anywhere other than Phoenix, Arizona.” Low teens, temperature wise. Anyway, there was no gas the day I moved in, a problem I informed my landlord about immediately. Since, well, I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to be eating out three times a day. I need a stove that works.
So I called and called and he didn’t call back. It took two weeks to get him on the phone, and when I finally did, our conversation went like this:
Me: Jack, I’ve been living without gas for two weeks.
Jack: Calm down. What’s the problem? You gotta cook a lasagna?
It should be noted that he was being only mildly sarcastic. It should also be noted that he will never be forgiven.
2. My ex-boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. I do not mean myself. What I mean is that a couple years back I dated a guy who, during the time he and I were together, remained quite close with his ex, a gal named Melanie, the one who’d come before me.
Now, if we’re dividing the world into PEOPLE WHO STAY GOOD FRIENDS WITH EXES vs. PEOPLE WHO THINK IT’S HARDER BUT HEALTHIER TO MAKE A CLEAN BREAK, I’m a member of the latter camp. I think staying in touch, the occasional catch-up on one another’s lives is fine, but much more than that get can dicey. That said, my then-boyfriend was close with his ex, so I decided, “What the hey? Let’s try to keep an open mind.” So I kept an open mind.
I kept an open mind when my boyfriend said, “I showed your picture to Melanie, and she told me, ‘Congratulations on finally dating someone who doesn’t look like me.’”
I kept an open mind when Melanie, having been invited to my surprise birthday party by the aforementioned boyfriend, said about my outfit, “Oh! Wow! I’m so surprised you wore that.”
I kept an open mind when a group of us were out to dinner and got into a conversation on what books we were reading. At the time, I’d been struggling through The Ambassadors, one of the later and, it is widely acknowledged, more challenging works of Henry James. I said – “I decided to give it a go, but man, it is dense,” and Melanie responded, “Really? That’s so weird! I always find James really easy.”
I couldn’t look at it her after that. And, it will come as no surprise, it wasn’t much longer before I couldn’t look at the aforementioned boyfriend either.
3. The Five Foot Seven Burning Man. “Five Foot Seven Burning Man” is a nickname I bestowed upon a gentleman I briefly dated back in 2006. His real name was Ethan, and on Ethan’s Myspace page (remember, it was 2006) he listed his height as 5”7′, but then when I met Ethan in person, he was most definitely not 5”7′. I mean, I’m 5”5′, and I was on no uncertain terms the tall one. But, whatever, right? I’ve got an open mind, he was short, but great body, I’ll work with it, BLAH. FINE. But then he yelled at the waiter about not wanting ice in his water, and then launched into this thing about how he’d just been to Burning Man, and how amazing it was. And so he became “Five Foot Seven Burning Man.”
Really, I would’ve been happy to use his real name, or at least a less mocking nickname, if he hadn’t turned out to be a real a-hole. He never cracked a smile, he was rude to waiters, like, a lot. And worst of all: The sex. We did it once (I hadn’t been laid in awhile; I was in no position to be picky) and not only did he spend the entire episode watching himself in a nearby mirror, he did the ol’ wham, bam, thank you ma’am routine, just rolled on over, as though it was time for bed.
“Um… I’m not… finished,” I said, at which point he patted – patted – my thigh, and said, “That’s okay,” and went to sleep.