A few years back there was this bloke, an acquaintance rather than a friend. He was the sort of person who grated on you because he took much pride (of the gloating variety) in shouting from the rooftops about his personal success. Sort of person who would take great pleasure in the misfortune of others and hardly cared much if something he did happened to leave you feeling a little downbeat. Dog eat dog world, right? Why should he care about me, you or anyone else?
Why should he indeed.
The way he would patronise and condescend was gut wrenching. Happens in the work place. There's always one. Spring in his step, swagger in his stride. Full of himself.
You're sort of green-eyed, not in a depressive self-deprecating 'why can't that not be me' way. Because it's not his fault if you don't have the skills, inclination or ambition to achieve at his level. Not that you didn't have the potential. It was just never fulfilled. But his presence begs the self-doubting questions you'd prefer not to have sparking in the brain. 'Why can't that not be me'. Okay, so yeah, self-deprecating.
He was supreme in his application in the office and he was also stupendously good at table football. Whether it's controlled passing of the ball, knocking it between the footie players on the table before smashing it in or generally just smashing it in from one end to the opposite side, opponent after opponent was obliterated out of sight.
And yes, before you ask, his girlfriend was fit. Not just fit, with her slinky frame and world class chest, but also intelligent. Street smart. Trendy. Considering everything else about him, you lingered desperately to the hope that if his other half was not that great to talk to or look at then it wouldn’t matter too much about everything else because you'd be comforted by the fact he was going out with a melting pot of ming and stupid. But that was not the case. Far from it.
Like a Greek tragedy with relentless plate smashing, his girlfriend was lovely. Gorgeous. You know how usually if you (a bloke or woman) sees someone who's attractive, you flirt with the fantasy of sleeping with them. Go on, you know you do. God made us weak. Well his girlfriend was of the ilk that had you thinking of marriage and growing old with her by your side. And plenty of bedroom action too, before the old bit. Okay and after the old bit.
Her smile, her mannerisms. Her sense of humour and razor sharp wit. You would tremble at the knees with each flick of hair. Had to be something amiss with her, couldn't be completely unequivocally perfect. But she appeared so. And you hated the git she was dating even more because of it. Which ruined it all and made you question the cruelty of life and why it choose to make you feel like crap, constantly with the mocking. Mocking with a cherry on top.
All the pain would however aid with inspiration in attempting to better him at least the once for all the emotional upheaval he caused by just being there. In your life. At work. Christ, you'd try to best him you really would. In conference calls, meetings, projects and then at the fabled table football. But he was just, well just too good. Too focused. Too comfortable at something you had to work ridiculously hard at just to be decent whilst he was very good without breaking sweat.
You'd huff and puff and he'd just pick you off, every time. Plucky you would be. Plucky until you'd choke and capitulate whilst he scoffed and shrugged nonchalantly, as though he knew he'd win again no matter what. And you sort of knew you'd lose anyway. His entourage of hangers on, people who wanted to be associated with his success would fluff and kiss his ego. They would be particularly annoying during bouts of table football, siding with him whilst you protested that he span the handles too quickly, turning all the footie players in the row around, full circle before shooting.
"Nah mate, never happened"
He'd score whilst you complained. And you'd lose. Again.
I'd lose again.
It was tiresome. Hard enough trying to get one over on him without others fighting his corner. Ganging up on me you'd tell yourself. All very apologetic, always an excuse at hand to explain why you've failed to again. Easy way to avoid confronting the real reasons behind defeat. This guy irked me. And I was so drilled with my hatred for him it was far more of a distraction than a tangible strategy. The inspiration and the belief was misplaced every single time, with a reflex 'here we go again' when he showed you up in front of others.
That's until one day I decided to be shrewd with my approach. Getting one over someone doesn't have to be just about the winning, it should always be tinged with a touch of glory. Because people tend to be far more interested in how you beat someone, the manner in which you've gone about it rather than the end result. Because a result has no story. It's just a fact, a stat. But that's still no reason not to embrace the philosophy that a win is a win is a win. Don't just turn up an play to the best of your abilities. Play to your best with their weakness in mind and take advantage, without remorse or thought of failure.
Do to him what he does to you.
An opportunity came up. I took a massive risk. And the plan rolled into motion. The essence of it based on the simplistic template that if it worked, he'd be weaker for it and that psychological barrier would crumble a touch meaning next time round, he would hardly be the immovable object of disdain that had driven most of us in the office insane, specifically me.
I knew I had it in me. Much like he went about his business, I simply focused and retained complete faith from start to finish. Not a second wasted on complacency.
All that was left was to revel in the finale, that moment where victory would be embraced.
On that fateful day I was eight - nil down on the table football, whilst he showboated (danced whilst he played), I appeared disinterested quite on purpose. Just me and him on a Friday afternoon in the chill out area of the office. The only sounds coming from his mouth as he chewed and snapped gum and twisting of the handles of the table, smacking the ball hard. I then spoke.
"So...", I said.
"Nine - nil", he replied.
I shrugged then walked away from the table and into the small stationary room out of sight of the rest of the office. He followed me there, with bursts of confused fake laughter, not quite sure why I had just randomly trotted off.
"What are you doing? You can’t walk away from the game. You'll forfeit".
I placed my finger to my mouth and politely asked him to hush the **** up. I then spoke.
"I've been shagging your missus. Birthmark on her thigh. Completely shaven apart from a strip of hair. Loves her high pitched screams. Don't fret mind, our little secret. Talking of little..."
I then smiled, pointed at him and winked.
Okay, so he kneed me hard between the legs and with gritted teeth grabbed me by my neck and explicitly stated he would kill me. It took a good ten minutes to get myself up from the floor after he walked back to his desk. I had to tell people I had stomach cramp and proceeded to spend a good thirty minutes in the disabled toilets attempting to recover, dipping my balls into a basin of cold water. Dodgy Indian the night before I told everyone when I reappeared.
I slept with his missus having found out from her that she hadn't slept with him for almost ten months. Some relationship. Apparently they were not as strong as they once were. All that bravado in the office, all that brash alpha male b*lls**t. All a sham. And between himself and myself, exposed.
Obviously I forfeited and lost the table football. Shame that. But you've got to take some punches (kicks) for the team and still come out of it standing tall (with slight awkwardness in the midsection). But after that day he wasn't quite as boisterous and in my face as he was prior to my revelation. Sure, he was still successful at what he did at work and still swaggered around the office. But he knew I knew that I could, on my day, get one over him and had one over him, which shifted power a little towards me. I knew that he knew that I knew I had found him out. Finally found him out.
When we went head to head on anything, he was never guaranteed to come out on top like before.
When I played table football I made sure he couldn't refuse by making a point of challenging him in front of others. He displayed traits of mortality in the game he once dominated. Mainly because of my in-game ambiguous banter that had him a touch nervous I would spill the beans to everyone crowded around the table that I had relations with this other half.
His concentration was off-key because he was more than aware it was no longer an easy brisk walk in the park for him. It hardly mattered he span the handles a few times during the game or had his 'mates' distract me whilst I attempted to defend. I didn't bother with the protests because I would make sure I won. His mates can hardly do anything if I'm wiping the floor with him where it mattered. On the table. Didn't always win of course. But won enough games to keep me content and keep him irate. His arrogance no longer grating. A victory for him no longer a forgone conclusion. Suddenly, everything about him that made him such a bane was inconsequential. I had the beating of him.
All thanks to his girlfriend and her needs. They had a wobble, a prolonged wobble, I was a b*stard, I made a move. Just the once. They didn't break up. He knew she cheated on him but didn’t have a clue who with. And I assume they sorted out their issues because they were still together up until I left the company. And he was hardly going to do anything more than knee me because God forbid people found out what I did. And killing me would have been detrimental to his lifestyle. He disliked porridge.
So in order to secure one or two wins on the table and restore some personal equilibrium in the office I did something that was both beautiful and ugly. Something not that becoming of a true gent. Arguably over the top and cruel. Just so I could have one victory. Because I wanted too. Because things just had to change. Pretty much the type of thing he did week in week out to me and other people. Screw people. Getting kneed was acceptable collateral damage.
The moral is simply this; if you want to come out smiling get balls deep.