"Piranha: A Revenge Fable" by Mahiruha
Yesterday at my local YMCA, I was practicing some curls. I won’t disclose how much I can curl but it’s nothing compared to the dishes I press every day into a sparkling shine. The guy next to me was a college student but wore a high school wrestling team shirt. I asked him if he had actually wrestled in high school and he said yes but that he gave it up in college. I have never participated in Graeco-Roman wrestling, obviously, as I would get snapped in two like a twig. Not really my cup of tea. Anyway, this guy, Nathan, was a real wrestler and told me that although each bout lasted for only six minutes, it’s the longest six minutes of your life.
I asked him if he had ever been scared during a bout, and he said that no, he had never been afraid. But there were some wrestlers that he absolutely despised because they always beat him. He then mentioned some of their names, like Luke and Kyle and Brad. (He still remembers their last names, too, but I don’t want to share it on the Internet). I reflected for a minute and realized that I still recalled the names of all the people who had beat me in high school debates: Marcus, Ariel, Brian, Tyler, O may they roast in the nethermost reaches of damnation!
I represented my school against many other teams and even went to compete at the state championships my senior year. And I still remember the people who defeated me, and the way they used to smile when they saw the match results posted on the bulletin board outside the classrooms where we sparred. If you won a certain number of debates, you “broke” which means you got to debate the next day and were assured a ranking in the tournament. I still go over the debates I lost in my mind, and I wish I could go back there with the poise, presence and spiritual disciple I have now, and lay down the law! But, I can’t. You can’t go back.
I proposed a quite elaborate but emotionally satisfying revenge scenario: He should wrestle the people who used to leave me tongue-tied, and I should debate the wrestling dons who used to pin him and make him cry for mama! He liked my suggestion.
I remember with blood-freezing hate my worst rival, Ariel the fink: the slinky, smooth-talking little weasel who misinterpreted the American Flag code to win my last debate against him. I can see him now, a managing partner at some prestigious Manhattan law firm, standing on the subway platform in New York City, reading the latest James Patterson novel on his Kindle, glancing from time to time at his new Luminox watch, not to see the time but just to show it off, when, all of a sudden, he wonders to himself, “Gee, what is that three hundred pound weight, hurtling at twenty miles an hour, that just slammed into the small of my back?” And the last thing he’ll hear will be, “Revenge, weasel, revenge!”
Now, Ariel isn’t particularly smart, and I worry that when he hears “Revenge weasel” he’ll think he’s been attacked by the mythical Revenge Weasel, and not that he himself is the weasel who is being dealt the long-overdue revenge card. But what the hey, retribution and glory will be mine just the same.
Conversely, I’ll wreak corresponding ruin upon Luke, the guy who used to tie Nathan up like a heifer during matches, and leave him for the carrion cameras to film his final twitches of agony before he inevitably blacked out. "Ruin his life!" Nathan told me. I'll approach Luke while he’s on his beat as the night watchman at the Rockford Illinois Self-Storage Warehouse. Stepping out of the shadows with a book of difficult crosswords, I will plead desperately for his assistance:
“Quick, who was the understudy for the title character in Dr. Zhivago?”
“How do you spell “Gilligan’s”?”
“What’s the penalty for poaching an egg?”
I can just imagine listening to the rusty gears of his brain groaning and cranking as he racks his three firefly brain cells for help. Finally, he’ll probably faint with the exertion and will be summarily fired the next day when he’s found curled up on the ground before the facility, a half-finished crosswords book draped over his head.
Yes, yes,yes! Revenge is not just for Hamlet, it’s for us all!
My revenge scenario is a watertight good idea unless my erstwhile interlocutors have become fitness buffs or if his wrestling superiors have learned to read.
I noticed then that Nathan had a marked southern twang and asked him if he was from Missouri or Alabama. He told me that he was born in Texas but had lived in Chicago all his life and picked up his drawl from his mom. His father is from Brazil, he explained. He lived in that country for two years.
Wow! Brazil! I asked him about the beloved national animal of Brazil, the piranha. He told me something surprising: that piranhas are actually quite docile. He said that if a school of one hundred piranhas approach you, maybe one or two will actually come up and start nibbling on you. There’s really nothing to worry about. They’re quite harmless.
When he used the word “nibble” I immediately thought of adorable, blind new-born puppies who you have to feed with an eyedropper, and who might toothlessly nibble on your little finger and make you go “Awww!” I then wondered what it would be like to have my own pet piranha, you know a charmingly cuddly little Brazilian koala fish (cum food processor)that would you would nuzzle on your pillow at night and aw shucks as you’re drifting off to sleep what do you know the little varmint is “nibbling” on your toenails!
I then asked him what a piranha bite is like. He said that while he had never been personally bitten by one, that it is like “a razor”, and you bleed “profusely”; it’s a “clean slice”.
All the images of puppies and nuzzling and eyedroppers vanished from my mind’s eye.
A razor. A clean slice. Hmmm, I guess I know how to spice up the night next Halloween when it’s time to bob for apples!
I know there’s a common theme here amongst the wrestlers and debaters and piranhas and how you shouldn’t carry chips on your shoulder but hey it’s no fun to take revenge if you forgive. I think the Buddha said something like that but don’t quote me.