Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Nemesis

Everyone has their nemesis. Their Lex Luthor. Their Joker. Their baby with the one eyebrow. If you can't think of your rival, then it's probably because I have claimed him as my own and he's busy battling me for world domination, and can't be bothered to foil your plans at every turn. I have my hands full with these types, though.
In college, there was Marian. Marian was the ultimate over-acheiver. As I recall, one of the first times I encountered her, she was detailing her plans to get a double major while graduating a year early. As if that wasn't nauseating enough, one of these majors was MY MAJOR. My weird, no one has ever heard of it major. You know, the only thing making me unique in a sea of sameness. She started showing up in my (small) classes, and I totally resented her. Resentment is a word which was probably invented at the time, to describe my feelings for her, which had been heretofore unknown by humankind. I was that awful. Marian was better than me, I'm not ashamed to admit. She always understood the reading, while it flew over my head. She asked insightful questions. She actually worked on research projects, while I scraped through school barely understanding the point of education, period. She was ambitious, and smart, and I pretty much wasn't, but they were traits I wished to have.
When I was very young, I had a friend who had been a similar figure to me. She was always one step ahead of me in every endeavor. She and I had a lot in common, but she was just one notch up. The problem was that we were friends and I admired her more than hated her, so I probably came off as a sidekick rather than a matched adversary. Alas. At the time, I had a picture book called "Timothy Goes to School." It was about a racoon or badger or other little creature who is constantly being one-upped by another little woodland animal, Claude. Eventually Timothy makes friends with a little girl rabbit who has her own competition. The little rabbit, Violet, describes her foe, saying, "She sings, she dances, she counts up to a thousand, and she sits next to me!"
I have always treasured that story and that description. Because while I will always know that there are people better than me at whatever I attempt, I don't really mind as long as they are TV champions, internet stars, historical figures. It's the proximity that really makes me look bad.
So anyway, here at work we are in the holiday season, when ordinary offices become minefields of forced activities like canned-food drives, luncheons, office-wide parties, white elephant games, and of course, the cookie swap.
Oh, the cookie swap. There is a particular cookie that I have been baking since I was about 14 years old. It is buttery and flavorful and just about the best cookie I make. I've perfected it over the years, and I like to think it's my signature cookie. It's called Double Gingersnap. I was planning on making that for the godforsaken cookie swap.
And of course, today I overhear that my Nemesis, Captain Loud, is making--you guessed it--ginger cookies. It's a Christmas Miracle! I mean Nightmare!

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