Got Mongo? Feed On This!"
Become a fan of the STORE on Facebook. Click here.
Become a fan of the BLOG on Facebook. Click Here

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Nemesis

Superman and Lex Luthor. Optimus Prime and Megatron. Han Solo and Boba Fett. The Nemesis is a literary technique to create drama and conflict in the world of the Hero. He is usually a polar opposite to the Hero, yet at one time they could have possibly been friends. At some point during their friendship an event occurred that split the two onto separate paths, pitting them against each other in a constant struggle over the balance of power between good and evil. Often, in a series of stories, say a graphic novel, the Hero and the Nemesis are forced to work together against a common foe but as soon as the status quo has returned to normal they are once again on opposite sides of the fight.

Just because comic books are ultimately aimed at kids doesn't mean they are not literature. Comic books or graphic novels are Jungian and Freudian in nature and play on the same character archetypes that are found in mythology and classical literature. Yet, art always imitates life and the Nemesis can be found in everyday life. You may have a Nemesis in your school, on the field, or in your place of work. They are usually someone in direct contrast from your own personality and you can never resolve your issues with them for as much as you are different, you are as alike as two magnets that constantly repel each other.

Growing up, I had a Nemesis through 12 years of school. He lived nearby and while I was chunky with dark hair and glasses, he was skinny and blonde. Where he was a bully and a troublemaker, I was the typical nerd and nice guy. Yet, there were times when for some unknown reason we were friendly towards each other only to turn around and find the proverbial knife in my back. He liked to kick, my Nemesis did. He was known to come to school dressed in work boots on days he intended to cause turmoil. I remember various occasions on which he and another kid, his henchman decided to ambush me at the playground in an attempt to beat me up. In true good vs.. evil fashion, the henchman bumbled his way through the process and at one point attempted to rush me only to have me move at the last moment letting him run headlong into a fire hydrant. I dodged and used my surroundings to gain the upper hand and they left unsatisfied but with the thought that this was not over.

Childhood beatings on the playground seemed scarier than they really were. A lot of it was psychological. If someone can force you to be compliant out of fear, there is never a need to back it up with force. But, if the Nemesis finds that fear is no longer a weapon they must resort to violence and that is where you must hold your ground. They always say that the only way to disarm a bully is to stand up to them. This only works if they can't win in a fight. To beat a bully you have to remove the element of intimidation. You have to show them that you aren't afraid of them and can be their equal. Without that leverage they can't enforce their will over you. Another example would be the moment I beat my Nemesis on his own level. During gym class one day we split up into teams to play a combination of football, hockey, and basketball that required you to get control of a nerf football during a tip off, take only two steps before passing or shooting and place the ball past a goalie for a goal. I was the goalie against my Nemesis' more physical role. He attempted to cherry pick me waiting by my end of the court. His team got control of the ball and launched to him thinking he could score easily on me. What he didn't realize was that I was bigger and took the opportunity to body check him out of the way before the ball got to him. Knocking him to the ground I took his physical weapon away from him. It was like Rocky making Ivan Drago bleed. "He's not a machine." From then on his attempts to physically attacked me consisted of him trying to kick me while vying for control of the ball. Something that he never could get over me. I didn't care whether he kicked, clawed, or bit. I was not letting him have the advantage. At that moment, the Nemesis was defeated and disappeared for the remaining time in high school.

After I graduated and moved onto a new environment, the concept moved with me and my Nemesis became a floor mate in my dorm at college. Again, we were polar opposites. We had different views on women and how to pick them up. I was single and made it a point to be a gentleman. He had a girlfriend back home and made it a point to turn his dorm room into a revolving door bachelor pad, hooking up with as many girls as possible while his girlfriend wait patiently back home for his faithful return.

In essence the rules about the nature of the Nemesis had changed. He was no longer a poster boy for the master race. No, this was not Draco Malfoy by any means. This was the dawn of the new pretty boy. Pre-Metro sexual man wearing Eddie Bauer and sporting perfectly gelled hair with no brains whatsoever. Most girls he picked up were ones that he sought out in his classes to 'tutor' him. That's how he sucked in one of the girls who time and time again would come back to him when he called her. She realized what he was and that he would never leave his girlfriend. She was simply a friend with benefits and he was reaping all of them. She would constantly complain about this vicious cycle but would continue to be used by him.

Now there were times that he and I got along. Other times I was completely at odds at how he operated. I began to wonder if I truly hated him or the fact that I couldn't be like him. He did have one specific trait that completely annoyed me and I find that the same trait exists in a lot of guys with the same type of personality. In fact I just noticed it while watching a reality show a few weeks back. Why is it that there is a need for a guy to hold a baseball bat when there is no need to hold a baseball bat? I mean you are in a conversation with someone in a non sports related setting and there is this guy sitting there clutching a baseball bat over his head for no reason. Is it Freudian, like owning a sports car is a sign that you are compensating for some shortcoming?

Where was I? Oh yes. This conflict of interest between me and my new Nemesis was short lived as I engaged in a relationship the next year and had no need to worry about his behavior. Sorry, but I guess I was indeed just mad because he was successful with women and I wasn't and now that was a non issue. With this issue removed from our path we never felt the need to argue or be at odds. The Nemesis was now a dormant being waiting for the next stage of my journey which took place a couple of years later.

I had graduated and become single again in the next two years. I began working in a job where I was a sort of outsider. Not quite young enough to blend in with the younger high school and college age guys yet not old enough to relate to the older employees in terms of being disenchanted with the organization. Soon, the Nemesis awoke and took the form of the hot shot leader of the guys who had worked there for years. This time I had upset the balance of their environment. I was hired off the street as a bartender but he had worked his way up from bus boy, paying his dues. Perhaps I was a threat to him because of my status. Perhaps he was just pissed that I wouldn't play along with his crap. I was there to work. Granted, he did his fair share but I kept up with him. Again, he did not fit the previous molds of the Nemesis. He had a more 'Black Knight' but I could tell he came from a spoiled life. Yes, he worked for things and was able to make his own way but you could feel that he was used to getting what he wanted in his upbringing, not just what he needed.

We had our battles and again, I was not on the more popular side. The first conflict springs to mind. We had been working late one night when everyone was kind of sitting around the office and not getting much done. In order for us to leave a set of tasks had to be completed. Sometimes the more menial the task the less enthusiasm to get it done. This task was vacuuming a meeting room. It was considered a job to be performed by a girl and at this moment, the female employees were showing their feminist sides and refused to do the task. Not wanting to get into a pissing match I just grabbed a vacuum and went to work. When I got back I tossed the vacuum into its cubby and for some reason, the Nemesis showed himself making comments to my lack of working and I went into attack mode. He was sitting on a stoop and I walked over and told him to shut his mouth. He asked if I was threatening him and I simply yet sternly said "No. I'm just telling you that regardless of what you may think about me, I don't ever want you to hear say I don't work. " For what seemed like minutes passed as he stood up to me nose to nose. I then said that the room was swept and we could go home. The battle lines had been drawn.

From then on it became a test of wills. He was too hot headed to give up and I was too stupid and cranky to give in to his badgering. Being older gave me a sort of ambivalence to his physical advantages over me and I went toe to toe whenever he challenged my ability to keep up with him. Eventually, he left and went to work somewhere else leaving me in the position to be the leader. I was promoted and was given a certain amount of respect by some of the other employees. With the Nemesis gone, I felt a sort of relief that allowed me to concentrate on my work and not worry about resistance. Soon, the Nemesis would return and for once I was ready.

He returned shortly before the start of a new year and while at a Christmas party he felt the need to try and rattle my cage. He said out loud at our table that I must be pretty pissed that he was returning since he would be reinstated at the position he left. Without missing a beat I said, Why worry? I didn't get your job. I surpassed it." He kind of just sat there blinking repeatedly not prepared for my answer. It was a moment summed up in one phrase. Pure ownage. From then until I left that job, I never once had to worry about him being a threat. We became civil towards each other and worked together without incident.

Since then I've had no conflicts with a Nemesis. It appears that he/she is sleeping in the abyss awaiting for the next chance to arise. In all instances I proved that by taking away the one weapon the Nemesis had over me I was able to send them away and coexist peacefully in that environment. Now, that is not to say that the Nemesis is gone for good. I'm sure that one day I will move onto a new stage in life that will present an opportunity for conflict. Perhaps when my child is old enough to attend school or be involved with activities I will find the Nemesis hiding in one of their classmates' parents. The soccer field or a PTA meeting may provide recognition and start the battle all anew. What I do know is that I've learned how to deal with the Nemesis and can strategically find a method to send them away. Frankly, I'm getting too old to fight with anyone. They better just be prepared to deal with the cranky instead of the valiant. The wait is on.

No comments:

Shredded Tweets