Orange Rhymes With: Sweet vengeance
Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that vengeance is odd or peculiar. I mean that the act of getting revenge is so funny to me that a good bit of vengeance can leave me with an excited buzz for days.
Now I understand that this is not what most professionals would consider a healthy way of going about things. Believe me, I’ve discussed this at great length with the fictitious shrink I claim to visit, and we’ve come to a fundamental disagreement about this.
Like most deep-rooted issues, it all started when I was a young, impressionable child. Someone in my family decided to break my unending “Tom and Jerry” marathon long enough to show me “Home Alone.” Obvious physical similarities to Macaulay Culkin aside, this movie changed child-Evan’s life.
Most viewers saw a charming film about a tenacious young boy, desperate to be reunited with his family before Christmas, who is forced to fortify his home against intruders. That’s not what I saw. I saw a child who got away with doing evil things with zero repercussions or responsibility for his actions. This was the moment when everything changed.
That was the day I realized I could do anything I wanted, as long as I was stopping the “bad guys.” This terrifying notion was reinforced through a decade and a half of “Die Hard” sequels and Batman reboots, all emphasizing the same point. You never saw John McClane or the Dark Knight having to pay for the things they destroyed or testify in court. So I just assumed these things never happened.
The problem with that notion is that I was far less concerned with stopping bad guys and more interested in enacting terrible vengeance. I can’t even begin to explain how many times I booby-trapped my house as a kid. Every doorknob was tied to another, so opening one door only closed another. There was plastic wrap on the toilets, rubber bands on the faucets, bouillon cubes in the showerheads — my house was an absolute warzone.
But, like all great artists, I soon learned to refine my talents to maximize my creative potential. I grew from a mischievous little prankster to Batman on a budget, a crusader for social justice. As I honed my skill the problem was not how to avenge injustice, but how to find new nemeses to engage in an epic battle of wits.
Local criminals, rightfully disgruntled exes, that guy who cut me in line for coffee — to me they were all the same. Sherlock had his Moriarty. I had scores of unlucky strangers. I worked in the shadows, fighting agents of evil by planting sand in their shoes and fear in their hearts.
Soon a point system developed to normalize the vengeance. Someone steals my food, maybe I replace their tea with herbal laxatives. A roommate gets too snarky, maybe I fill his van with cheese. Someone sleeps with my best friend’s ex, maybe one day his car just doesn’t start.
Things happen. The universe is a mysterious place. And remember, for every action there is a devilish, bearded reaction, and it looks a lot like me.
As my talents have grown, so too have the tools of the trade. I’m essentially a carpenter, except my hammer is a canister of nausea-inducing shark liver oil, and my nails are carefully placed smoke bombs. I’ve seen every spy movie there is, and I’ve incorporated all of them into my brilliant tactics for vengeance. While other students are frantically studying for midterms, I’m sneaking about with a tube of rubber cement and some tracking devices I fashioned out of spare iPods.
So when you hear something go bump in the night, when your toys turn up missing and your Internet redirects you to pictures of Nicolas Cage, it’s not a ghost or a burglar. You probably just cut me off in traffic or didn’t laugh hard enough at my “Lost” references.
Maybe I’ve become the villain in this story, the very force I was fighting against. Perhaps my efforts to maintain the balance of social justice have only resulted in collateral damage and bouts of paranoia. These are questions we may never know the answer to, but one thing has become abundantly clear:
It’s far too late to stop me. I’m just too far gone. The truth is, I’ve been home alone for years now.