Getting even

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    A very drunk man sits down with the ladies having some tête-à-tête. He was talking aloud which disturbed the ladies. One lady, who could not hold her temper, told the man blankly, “If you were my husband, I would poison you.”

    The man, embarrassed by what he heard, stood up. He faced the lady and without much ado told her: “Ma’am, if you were my wife, I would drink the poison.”

    Here’s another one. At a dinner party one evening, there was a heated exchange between British statesman Winston Churchill and a female member of the parliament. At the end of the argument, the lady said scornfully, “Mr. Churchill, you are drunk.” Replied Churchill, “And you, madam, are ugly. But I shall be sober tomorrow.”

    Revenge is a deceiver – it looks sweet but is most often bitter. Now, let me share you a true story that happened to Hungarian artist Arpad Sebesy. At one time, Elmer Kelen came to his studio and when he saw the portrait, he was very angry. Before leaving, Elmer told Arpad: “That’s a rotten portrait and I refuse to pay for it!”

    The artist was crushed. He had spent weeks on this painting, and now the 500 pengos (Hungarian currency) that he was going to lose on the deal flashed through his mind.

    Bitterly, he recalled that the millionaire had only posed three times so that the painting had to be done virtually from memory. Still, he didn’t think it was such a bad likeness.

    Before the millionaire left his studio, the artist called out, “One minute. Will you sign this letter saying you refused the portrait because it didn’t resemble you?”

    Glad to get off the hook so easily, Kelen agreed.

    A few months later, the Society of Hungarian Artists opened its exhibition at the Gallery of Fine Arts in Budapest.

    Soon afterwards, Kelen’s phone began to ring. Within half an hour, he appeared at the art gallery and headed for the wing where a Sebesy painting was on display. It was the one he had rejected.

    He glanced at the title and his face turned purple. Storming into the office of the gallery manager, he demanded that the portrait be removed at once.

    The manager explained quietly that all of the paintings were under contract to remain in the gallery the full six weeks of the exhibit.

    Kelen raged. “But it will make me the laughing stock of Budapest. It’s libelous! I’ll sue!”

    The manager turned to his desk, drew out the letter Kelen had written at Sebesy’s request, and said, “Just a moment. Since you yourself admit that the painting does not resemble you, you have no jurisdiction over its fate.”

    In desperation, Kelen offered to buy the painting, only to find the price was now ten times that of the original figure. With this reputation at stake, Kelen immediately wrote out a check for 5,000 pengos.

    Not only did the artist sell the rejected portrait to the man who had originally commissioned it, he also received ten times the first price and achieved his revenge by exhibiting it with the title: “Portrait of a Thief.”

    Russell Lynes reminds: “The only graceful way to accept an insult is to ignore it; if you can’t ignore it, top it; if you can’t top it, laugh at it; if you can’t laugh at it, it’s probably deserved.”

    English author Samuel Johnson is one person who would get even with those people who would exploit him.

    When he was completing his dictionary, a London journal published two anonymous “previews” of the book.

    The articles were favorable but superficial. When he learned that the wealthy Earl of Chesterfield had written them, he was furious.

    After all, he had applied to him repeatedly for patronage while writing the dictionary, but the earl had been cheap, giving the poverty-stricken writer no more than ten pounds (about US$250).

    Now, Johnson felt, he was trying to take credit as a patron. In the dictionary, he defined patron as “commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery.”

    Irish author George Bernard Shaw had also experienced embarrassing moments.

    After the premiere of Arms and the Man (1898), he took the stage to make a curtain speech.

    When the applause subsided, there was a solitary boo from London critic Reginald Golding Bright. Shaw looked directly at Bright and said, “My dear fellow, I quite agree with you, but what are we two against so many?”

    Finally, here’s another story that should end this piece. A cigar smoker bought several hundred expensive cigars and had them insured against fire. After he’d smoked them all, he filed a claim, pointing out that the cigars had, in fact, been destroyed by fire.

    The insurance company refused to pay, and then the man sued. The judge ruled that because the insurance company had agreed to insure the cigars against fire, it was legally responsible.

    The company had no choice but to pay the claim. Then, when the man accepted the money, the company had him arrested for arson.

    Now, that’s even!

    But the Bible tells us: “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19).

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