Sweet revenge | 

An insult can only land if you let it. A barb can’t penetrate if it slides off your emotionally well-adjusted backside

Best Actor winner Will Smith slaps comedian Chris Rock at the recent Academy Awards ceremony

Roisin Gorman

Revenge is a dish best served never. It shouldn’t be cold, tepid, room temperature or fresh from the grill and it’s only served up by drama queens.

Anyone who devotes a nanosecond of their life to getting back at someone has too many nanoseconds on their hands. So when slugger Will Smith became the insulted by Chris Rock, the insulter, at the Oscars, his need for revenge overcame his need to behave like an adult, and no one won.

Wife Jada doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who needs her honour defended by playground-level machismo. Then we were all subjected to her Earth mother response of “this is a season for healing and I’m here for it” and no one won all over again. Except Will, whose Oscar will be remembered for his descent into slapper of the violent kind.

Meanwhile, a million partners turned to their men to assert if they ever did anything like that, they’d be dead, and we’d be mortified. The Hollywood power couple’s openness about their open marriage had already made them the butt of jokes and now Smith’s an EastEnders character gunning for a fight in the car park while Jada shouts: ‘Leave it, he’s not worth it, Smithy!’

In contrast to the mantra of What Would Beyoncé Do in the face of adversity — look fierce with perfect hair and power thighs — we now have What Would Will Do, which is revert to his traumatised two-year-old self and then claim love made him do it.

It’s not as if there’s any shortage of examples of revenge bouncing back on the vengeful. Taylor Swift might be the most successful thing to come out of her hometown of West Reading, but she’s also the punchline of a thousand jokes thanks to all the songs about her exes.

Elin Nordegren was your average anonymous wife until her now ex-husband Tiger Woods’ inability to keep his clubs in his golf bag drove her to smash up his car, instantly making her the deranged spouse. She later auctioned off all the jewellery he’d given her, including the engagement ring, in a portion of revenge served straight from the freezer.

Author Michael Crichton has been known to use writer’s revenge by invoking the ‘small penis rule’, using the name of one particularly harsh critic for a character in his novel Next.

The rule is that no man will sue claiming he’s been identified by his small member, but it suggests thin-skinned and sensitive when revenge could be a life well lived with an abundance of cash.

Without coming over all religious, the philosophy of turning the other cheek is the path to happiness. Although in Chris Rock’s case, it might just have got him another slap.

An insult can only land if you let it. A barb can’t penetrate if it slides off your emotionally well-adjusted hide. It has taken me years of practice, but in the face of abuse, rudeness or particularly poor service, the unshakable smile is a response that’s unnerving while also retaining some dignity.

I’ve kept it up for long enough to look on the verge of unhinged but slightly belligerent-nice. It is instant revenge without the use of fists. And if it’s accompanied with a trick a comedian once taught me, asking your aggressor ‘is everything alright at home?’, you’ve won the war while the insulter is left questioning their life choices.

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