On Being Hated

Thinking about my previous hatred essay, I came to realize that I’m usually on the receiving end of the whole hate thing. I’m somewhat impressive in the sense that over the course of my life, more than a few folks have hated me with a burning passion. Something about me inspires pure loathing that can last for years, even decades.

Case in point: For most of my childhood, I was in a performing arts group in LA called the Kids of the Century that sang at state fairs and such. We traveled to most of our gigs in rented buses, and Hank and Sheila – not their real names – used to share a seat near the front and proceed to make out in front of everybody. They were one of those gross, cutesy couples with the pet names and the Eskimo kisses and the slobbering. Always the slobbering. Being an insecure adolescent, and probably being somewhat jealous because I wasn’t making out with anybody either in public or in private, I mocked them every chance I got. I don’t remember what methods I used, but knowing me, I was probably pretty annoying.

Fade out, fade in. Several years after high school, I went to a Kids of the Century concert, only to see Hank and Sheila, now a happily slobbering married couple, sitting two rows behind me. It made me smile to see them again. I went up to them at intermission. Hank was very friendly, and we chatted amiably, but Sheila wouldn’t speak to me. When she saw me coming, she made a point of standing up and dramatically stalking off in a huff. I was unable to take a hint, so I caught up with her, but she still wouldn’t speak to me. She wouldn’t look at me. And all I was trying to do was say hello. I went back to Hank, who sheepishly told me that Sheila still hadn’t forgiven me for the way I’d made fun of her all those years ago, and she still talked about me with venom in her voice.

Keep in mind – I hadn’t seen Sheila for probably close to a decade. I hadn’t been talking about her. I hadn’t thought about her. Yet after all this time, she was, in the words of the Scottish poet, “Gathering her brows like gathering storm/Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.”

It was a bad scene.

I’m not justifying my adolescent behavior. I’m saying that, by keeping that hate alive for so long, she did herself a whole lot more damage than she did me.

To sum up: Languatron comes by it honestly.

Learning from Larry
The True Story of Richard the Bricklayer

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