My parents were right. However, as an adventurous and often mischievous youth, I suppose that I was not so quick to obey their counsel. It was not until I made my first attempt at seeking revenge that the true meaning of this idea was driven home.
My sister and best friend Ashlee was a shrewd trader in her young age, and being three years older than I was, she had a definite advantage whenever she and I made our special ‘candy trades’ at Halloween and Easter. It was an annual tradition for the two of us to take our sweets out of our brightly colored baskets, and then to barter: M&Ms for snickers, Reese’s cups for Smarties. During this particular year’s Easter hunt, Ashlee had accumulated an unusually large amount of jellybeans, most of which were licorice flavored.
No child likes licorice-flavored jellybeans.
At the beginning of the trade, Ashlee decided to offer me what she dubbed the “deal of a lifetime.” She said, “El, if you give me just ONE of your snickers bars, I will give you TEN whole jellybeans!”
I was astonished. A ten-for-one deal was mind-blowing to a 5-year old like me, and I felt that I would be an idiot to pass it up. We sealed the deal instantly.
Not surprisingly, this proposal “of a lifetime” was followed up by six similar offers, all of which I accepted with glee. By the end of the trade, Ashlee had a heavenly stash of every chocolate-covered, marshmallow-filled candy in creation. I had a mountain of jellybeans, most of which were licorice-flavored.
No child likes licorice-flavored jellybeans!
Obviously this injustice called for action on my part. I knew that ‘sweet revenge’ would best compensate for the bitter-tasting licorice jellybeans in my pile.
The next day, I pulled out a red crayon, a piece of computer paper and a stick of Elmer’s glue, awkwardly scribbled the words “FoR SaiL” on the paper, and placed the sign in front of my prized pile of Beanie Babies. My Beanie Baby collection had been carefully built up over the past few months in the form of birthday gifts and Christmas presents, until about a dozen sat peacefully on my nightstand. I had recently discovered that my sister had an interest in them, and I knew that she had a lot of money to spend. I had a plan to sell my Beanie Babies at inflated prices, knowing that the small stuffed animal craze would soon be over, just like the Furby craze and the Tamagotchi fad of the early 90s. I could use the money to buy cooler things, and Ashlee would end up with worthless palm-sized Dalmatians and unicorns. Once I reflected over the genius of my plan, my first evil cackle escaped from my lips.
Ashlee came into the room a few moments later as I sat on a chair, adjusting one of the tentacles of Opie the Octopus. Surprised that I was offering to sell my special collection, Ashlee offered one dollar for the lot. I shook my head no. Ashlee thought for a moment, somewhat surprised that I was bargaining with her, and she made a new offer. “How about 12 cents for each animal? That’s $1.44!”
Again, I refused. I informed her that I would not accept anything lower than $5 per animal, not including tax.
We bargained back and forth for several minutes, Ashlee demanding $1.50 for the lot, me lowering my demands to $4…her raising her price to $1.55, me lowering my demands to $3. After the third minute of debate I was tired of arguing and, wanting to go downstairs for some pretzels, I let her take the animals for her final offer of $2.40.
The next week, I was $2.30 richer (I lost a dime somewhere along the way) and Ashlee had 12 shiny Beanie Babies. I still thought that I was rich, until I went to the store and found that even the cheapest Beanie Baby was four times the price that Ashlee had given me for 12. I could only mutter under my breath and buy a bag of a cool-looking candy called Twizzlers, assuming that the Beanie Baby trend would soon end and Ashlee’s gain would no longer matter. On the car ride home, I discovered to my utter horror that Twizzlers were licorice flavored.
The Beanie Baby craze, I would later find out, became the greatest of all kid crazes, and it lasted for the duration of my 6-year elementary school career. Fortunately, Ashlee would let me play with the furry friends whenever I wanted. However, I was no longer their owner, and as such my reputation among my young colleagues as a Beanie Baby connoisseur was ruined. In addition, I came to realize that during the period of time I had been jealous of Ashlee, my real loss was not the Beanie Babies or the Snickers...it was our damaged friendship. We had not played together during all the time I was seeking revenge. She may have been a crooked seller, but she was my sister, and I was wrong to let jellybeans come between us.
Since my experience in the Beanie Baby seller’s market, I have found myself in more serious situations where I have felt mistreated or victimized. However, I am proud to say that I have not made further attempts at revenge, and I have become a better person for it. I know that whatever damage I cause someone else in taking revenge, the pain I cause myself is worse. Revenge is not sweet. It is bitter and disappointing...like a licorice-flavored jellybean.
Nobody likes licorice-flavored jellybeans.