the very moment three particular words came out of my mouth, i heard a noise.
two noises, really.
thunder. & a crack of lightning, like the cackle of a scary, old witch.
a little dramatic, certainly. & they got my attention.
because the words i'd just spoken were serious words. they were a total "integrity statement."
but, i didn't say them on purpose. not really.
you see, the person i said them to -- he had something that I needed. & in order to get it, i had to... well, have you ever heard the expression, "feed the dragon?"
it's not a pleasant thing. it means you have to put up with something torturous from someone -- pander shamelessly, if necessary, all in the name of getting what you "need."
imagine the old star wars movie return of the jedi. you saw it, right? the one with the character jabba the hutt -- the nasty, fat & slimy alien-monster who looks like a huge, greasy glob of dirt jello. if you saw the movie, you certainly remember jabba the hutt.
in the movie, he captures carrie fisher's character, princess leia & turns her into his slave girl, & makes her wear iron chains & a metal bikini? princess leia endures jabba the hutt's rank foulness, not to mention his putrid breath, when she could've actually wrapped her slave chains around his neck @ just the right moment & strangled him to death. but she didn't because she was waiting for the chance to save her lover-man, han solo.
uhm, hello... played by harrison ford? at least you remember his character from star wars, right?
okay - so, how did i feed the dragon in my situation? that's what you really want to know.
i had suffer through listening to MY jabba the hutt's story over lunch one day, as i smiled pleasantly, nails digging into my palms, because his story was all a load of horse manure.
when the waitress finally brought our food, it was down to business at last. but, not before he blithely said:
"i hope i can count on you to keep our conversation confidential." translation: don't tell the person i'm talking about, even though she's one of your closest friends.
did i mention it was a STEAMING load of horse manure? &, if he was telling his story to me now, he had already told it to any & everyone who would listen.
with the squirmy sensation that i was heading straight to hell, i looked him in the eye & said these words:
"i don't rat."
hearing the roaring thunder & witchy thunderbolt, i reminded myself that telling him that rather than telling him off would allow me to still get what i needed, because i couldn't risk pissing him off.
plus, he was also paying for my lunch.
life takes finesse sometimes. a little smooth choreography to help things go our way.
the more i thought about it, i felt really used. like i was his garbage can or something. & besides, when princess leia had to feed the dragon, at least she got to look smokin' hot in that metal bikini while she did it.
i mean, truly -- did carrie fisher ever look better in her life?
i waited a few weeks before i told my friend what he'd said. i couldn't help myself, because she deserved to know. maybe i could've thought, what she doesn't know won't hurt her? no, because i didn't see it that way. it took far more integrity to tell the truth to my friend than to keep jabba the hutt's confidence.
but, let's be honest. a little part of me wanted to pay ol' jabba back for making me feed the dragon.
through her seething anger, my friend told me basically the same thing i told jabba -- "i don't rat." that she wouldn't tell him what she now knew that he'd said about her.
do you hear the thunder rumbling in the distance? & how the air smells like rain?
but she did tell him. & loose lips sink ships.
what just happened here, i wondered, as i was pulling myself out from under the bus.
it's called karma, baby.
my friend couldn't help herself. just like me.
but, that's not true.
i could help myself. every step along the way, i knew better. i knew it was possible that he would learn that i'd ratted him out to my friend.
maybe you remember what happens to jabba the hutt in the movie. oh, princess leia ends up choking him to death with those chains, all right. to big cheers from the audience. for my money -- it was the best scene from every stars wars movie combined.
i fed my jabba the hutt to get what i "needed" when i should've just said, "hey - i'm not listening to this," whether it pissed him off or not -- but that train had left the station.
so rather than lie to jabba about having told my friend what he had said -- it wasn't much fun. root-canal-fun, actually, but i owned it. because i had to be able to look at myself in the mirror again.
karma can be totally annoying. but it's also kind of comforting in a strange sort of way, knowing that it's ready to slap us silly when we need to learn a lesson. know what i mean?
& here's the lesson i learned:
I'm done feeding dragons.