CXIX. Proactive Passive Aggression -

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching a DVR recorded The Next Food Network Star, as per the request of my mother.

The contestants were being split up into teams. A woman who goes by the name of Lovely, was put on a team with one of the other contestants, Chris. Her twisted smile gave way to a smirk and a malicious sideways glance towards the approaching Chris. Chris gently took her by the shoulders and smiled, as if he were genuinely happy to be on the team with what was apparently an adversary.

Viewing this series of events play out, I felt a tinge of sadness intermingled with the urge to call that lady Lovely, what she really was. Let’s just say the expletive I’m thinking of rhymes with my favorite Halloween costume that I wore without fail, every year during my childhood.

As with all reality T.V. shows, the individual contestants’ testimonials are succinctly edited into the prerecorded goings-on of the competition. As a result, after the audience saw the slightly awkward interaction described above, Chris weighed in on what had transpired. “Kill them with kindness", he said.

I think this is a case of, easier said than done. If I were in that situation and the environment were not professional, I would confront if need be and say, “So you’ve made it clear you don’t want to be on the same team?“, or something else of that nature.

Say you’ve fought with your sibling or parent the day before. You’re still dwelling on said fight and have developed an ammo of possible comebacks in preparation for what today might bring.
Surprisingly, the other person calls you up and asks what you’d like to eat for dinner or perhaps makes some other, seemingly effortless, gesture that comes off as genuinely kind. The guilt that this provokes is sickening and I’m sure we’ve all experienced it as some point. So I suppose Chris to be logically correct when he says, “Kill them, [those who oppose you], with kindness.”

I know that I cannot stroke the feathers of the ruffled, however, I can understand how success can be the sweetest form of revenge. It’s not like I have a list of enemies, but it seems inevitable for me to encounter members of society whom exude less than favorable vibes. In fact, I seem to possess a radar for people who stare out of hate, forming preconceived judgments in their mind.

These persons include all the disgruntled employees who seem to hate his/her job and take it out an an unsuspecting consumer or if I remember correctly from my college days, on the unsuspecting hungry, sleep-deprived student. I’m talking about you, UPenn student dining staff.

I always did support those group of masked freshmen who climbed the over 6 feet gate closing off the cafeteria from the college house leaving poster boards saying, “Don’t be rude!” I think I can find the video online somewhere…

I’m opposed to all immature revelry that took place on my college campus, but this was a symbolic act. This was also the first time I felt a communality with my peers; we were in solidarity.

I happened to come across the YouTube URL address for the documentation of the “break-in”, only to find that it has been made private since then.

Regardless of the lack of evidence, these fearless freshmen, revealed to  have been hall mates, presumably the kind that cling to each other and attend each others’ marriages at some much later date, (unless they shared my mindset about the ideal marriageable age), were successful.

They successfully faced no repercussions while bringing attention to the swept-under-the-rug notion that the employees on campus, mostly locals who occupied underprivileged areas, had beef with the students whom they served.

The truth is, they did not serve us. Instead, they served the university. Regardless of this dichotomy, the staff believed that the Ivy League only accepted legacy students or buy-ins who vacationed in the Hamptons or alternatively, occupied a gargantuan house in the tropics of South Asia, the deserts of the Middle East, the man made territory of Dubai, or the plains of Africa..

Suffice it to say, after the little poster display in the cafeteria, the truth was projected and the tension was not only cut through, but seemed to be only cut for the purpose of being pasted multiple times, for all to see.

We’re all human and I’ll admit to being incredibly competitive - back to the human part: As humans, we have fallacies. What qualifies as a flaw differs according to perception, but no one is without at least one, whatever that may be.

Sometimes, flaws are enigmatic; they will either naturally transform, change via personal proactive will, or sometimes, alter as a result of a combination of doing something and doing nothing.

There’s a big event happening in one side of my family. The side that I do not resemble, physically. The 1st of 3 events took place several days ago, or was it a week? I think my attempt at trying to block it out has become successful.

Fortunately or not, memories are capable of being enigmatic, and certainly are by definition, transient.

Here’s some background as to why my usual excitement for such rare occasions dwindled to a decomposing raisin:

This heat-wave summer is wreaking horrid havoc on my skin. I believe it all started with my little trip abroad. As soon as I stepped into the air out there, I broke out.

Throughout my high school and college years especially, my skin was incredibly clear.
While in India during over 100 degree Farenheit weather and  without my special face soaps, my skin was, in fact, at it’s clearest.

So I have reason to believe that I contracted some airborne bacteria during my recent travels. This, when combined with my lengthy time in the sun, has provoked my skin to mourn - an unfamiliar concept.

Back to the event:

A couple of days before this family function, my skin was at, what I hope, its worst.

Virtually providing my own spa treatment at home on a daily basis, and never sporting any make-up besides ayurvedic Kajaal, or eyeliner, I stared at my reflection before leaving the house; a disgruntled female with her integrity in tact.

The event I was attending was for women only. As a female, we’re part of this exclusive group where we should be empathetic to the daily mandated functions we all have to perform in order to leave our house every morning.

Presumably then, no one would mention my flawed and completely sun-burned skin.

Yes, I do get sun-burn. I may not be extremely pale but let’s remember the combination of Punjabi and Puerto Rican-Spanish invokes a vulnerability to the sun’s rays.

My problem-area was called out not once or twice, but three times. The stares were palpable and the entire scenario was something I had never had to experience before.

“There’s a place in Hell reserved for women who don’t support other women.”
                                                                              - Madeleine Albright

Success is sweet revenge. I’m going to dig deep into my Indian femininity and ensure that this face will do me proud come events numbers 2 and 3 - here’s to the ancient natural science of proactive passive-aggression.