Friday, November 8, 2019

So You've Got a Nemesis ... There's a Poem for That

So You've Got a Nemesis ...

I don't think I'm petty, but the feeling of joy that ensues when reading a particular poem wherein the author drags his nemesis may mean that perhaps, just a little, I am.

The poem that sets me all aglow with delight is "The Book of My Enemy has been Remaindered" by Australian writer Clive James. In it he celebrates the fact that his enemy's book has been remaindered, which is to say, it wasn't selling well so the publisher is liquidating remaining stock. If you've ever bought a book for $1 from a clearance pile and noted the black slash of a permanent marker along the edge of the pages, you just got a bargain thanks to a remaindered book.

James flings lovely daggers at his foe, such as:
His brainchild now consorts with the bad buys
The sinker, clinkers, dogs and dregs,
The Edsels of the world of moveable type,
The bummers that no amount of hype could shift,
The unbudgeable turkeys.
And his delight at this misfortune is delicious:
Chill the champagne and polish the crystal goblets!
The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am glad.
Hell yeah!

If James had a specific nemesis in mind, the writer is never named (much like author Roxane Gay tantalizes twitter followers with mentions of a nemesis she never names. I would buy a book just for the reveal!).

My husband tells me that I always seem to have a nemesis; each time we've moved it doesn't take me long to find one. I'm sorry, but the petty tyrant heading the Homeowners Association Board should be his nemesis, too! The neighbor blasting music and polluting our space with her noise should be his avowed rival as well! I would relish bad luck falling on any one of the former bosses who went out of their way to make my life hell! I will not back down on this!

He thinks it's all so hilarious and reminds him of the Chris Rock bit about women and their enemies, which goes like this: "... every woman’s got another woman at her job that she can’t stand. Women, y’all exaggerate everything. You turn it into some Dynasty shit, like: 'She’s trying to destroy me!' What the fuck are you talking about? You wrap up bags at J.C. Penney’s!"

I love Rock and that joke cracks me up, but I'm sorry dude, the woman in your joke probably suffered some sneaky, mean crap her co-worker dished out. I've worked with men and women that did nasty, underhanded things, make rude digs for no reason, or got a kick out of making problems for their co-workers, so yeah, I can believe no matter the job and how low the stakes of your position, you can have a co-worker who makes your life hell. And that asshole is your nemesis.

When your nemesis stumbles, celebrate it. Look them in the eye and say: "The book of my enemy has been remaindered." Then invite everyone but them for drinks, your treat. I always end up feeling sorry for a nemesis if they're having a hard time so I'll be far nicer to them than they've ever been to me – I would never actually get in their face and gloat. But the thought of it is divine. Which is why, I suppose, this poem is so satisfying.

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