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Best Served Cold

By Michelle Martin

In revenge fantasy #6,419, I am spotted while participating in some fabulously glamorous activity such as lying on a towel at a swanky Vegas resort in a flattering and sexy bathing suit, having sunscreen applied to me judiciously by an attentive, gorgeous hunky man. I'm spotted, of course, by the last guy who broke my heart. He just happens to be there, and he is not with any women - just a guy friend - and he must confront the fact that I am living a wonderful life without him, and am hanging out with handsome high rollers whose pockets are deeper than his (not that I would ever judge a man by the depth of his pockets, but guys have issues with other guys making more money, so it fits into the fantasy).

Or maybe I'm in the casino, dressed up in something that looks perfect, and I'm surrounded by men and am in fact having my picture taken with them - just me and 8 or 10 male friends who are crazy about me - and he walks by. Maybe one of my wonderful male friends even asks him to take the picture, then my ex looks and realizes it's me. That would be hysterical! Of course I would be cordial and gracious, but I would clearly see how devastated he felt at being reminded of how he screwed up our relationship and my life has gone on to be fulfilling and his life would absolutely suck. And he would think constantly about how he would give anything to undo the horrible transgressions he committed and have me back so he could do it right this time.

Or maybe fast forward about 6 years to some highbrow but fun and cool cultural event like the Sunday concerts in Stern Grove. I'm married to some dreamboat and I have a baby that stops traffic with his or her cuteness and demeanor. We're sitting there on our blanket having fun and drinking expensive, delicious wine (perfect child is having something non-alcoholic), and here he comes again, the last guy who broke my heart, and he is of course single, childless and miserable, regretting the nefarious, amoral actions that led to the demise of our relationship. And he has to meet the man who succeeded him, meet the child, and go away with the knowledge that it could have been him on the blanket except that HE RUINED EVERYTHING!

Am I psycho? I say no - elaborate revenge and vindication fantasies are completely normal and even therapeutic. I have a million of them. They run like film shorts in my mind during boring meetings, when I can't fall asleep at night, if I'm depressed, while I'm driving, while I'm staring at my monitor waiting for the muse, when I'm stuck in a screwed-up grocery store checkout line - the possibilities are endless.

If anything, this is the type of activity mental health professionals should champion. This should be socially accepted, celebrated fun. But I recently was shocked to learn that some people think that the whole concept is completely deranged and that I need help for indulging such thoughts.

I was told by a guy (and he's a guy's guy, let me tell you. He bragged about his flatulence the first time I ever spoke with him, and has brought it up consistently and with unflagging pride ever since) that I am a "nut job." Perhaps the more cerebral and imaginative males in the world can identify with my creative self-healing scenarios, but he probably has a point about my being considered a lunatic by at least an equal number of men (many of whom fall into the category of "potential date" so I am concerned with how I come across!). I admit I've been accused on more than one occasion of "spending too much time thinking about it," "overanalyzing" or "being neurotic." These are all related to the fantasizing thing.

What I think is going on is the classic situation in which MEN DON'T THINK. So they certainly don't "think too much" about anything. They don't fantasize about things that occur while clothed. They don't overanalyze things that happen while unclothed or partially clothed, because that would involve analyzing. They're not neurotic because they have no neurons!

Is this my problem? No. Am I a nut job? Not based on this.

Flatulence or fantasies - stick to what you know.

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