The woman with painted white toenails calls him a very impolite name. No, it was a very rude name. Being a naturally polite person, David doesn't respond in kind. He vents his frustration in the "across" and "down" of Saturday's New York Times crossword puzzle and contemplates how best to avenge himself.
It’s always so satisfying when you can twist someone’s hatred into guilt—make them realize that they were wrong, too quick to judge, too unwilling to look beyond their own petty concerns. The problem is that it works both ways. I’d taken this woman as the type who arrives late at a movie, then asks me to move behind the tallest person in the theatre so that she and her husband can sit together. Everyone has to suffer just because she’s sleeping with someone. But what if I was wrong? I pictured her in a dimly lit room, trembling before a portfolio of glowing X-rays. “I give you two weeks at the most,” the doctor says. “Why don’t you get your toenails done, buy yourself a nice pair of cutoffs, and spend some quality time with your husband. I hear the beaches of North Carolina are pretty nice this time of year.”See what a good person he is? He actually considers this woman may be terminally ill and not merely terminally rude. For Pete's sake, he gives to public radio, which I like in a guy.
I looked at her then, and thought, No. If she’d had so much as a stomach ache, she would have mentioned it. Or would she? I kept telling myself that I was within my rights, but I knew it wasn’t working when I turned back to my puzzle and started listing the various reasons I was not an asshole
Forty across: “I give money to p—”
Forty-six down: “—ublic radio.”
A projectile lozenge incident proves what a hard worker karma is. David won't get to witness the sticky consequences, but as it says in the good book, "'Revenge is mine,' saith the Lord."
Sedaris, once again, delivers the goods in another fine New Yorker essay. Read the rest here.