By Pam Burke 

The vengeful gods of comeuppance


November 22, 2013

Comeuppance. Such a sweet and silly sounding word.

It sounds British: “How lovely to see you, my dear! You simply must swing by the cottage tomorrow afternoon for some comeuppance and tea.”

“That sounds brilliant. I shall bring some just desserts.”

Don't be fooled, though. Sweet and silly sounding, indeed. Comeuppance is a sharp-edged, pointy tool wielded by those trickster Fate sisters hellbent on their mission to make my life a cautionary tale to be ever-mindful of using using a sarcastic wit.

(And the real irony here, from my perspective, is that according to legend of ancient religion the Fates gifted me with sarcasm to begin with. They are cruel and fickle gods; nevertheless, I carry on.)

Earlier in the week a friend sent me a message commenting about her long day helping her family ship calves, and I replied “I know what you mean about being wiped out. I read a book all afternoon, while cozied under a warm blanket, and now I have a cramp in my calf ... or deep vein thrombosis. Oh, the trials I have in my life! (insert smiley face here)”

Oh, what a laugh we had.

The truth can be funny if presented in the proper way — you saw what I did there, right?

I implied that our lives and conditions were the same but, through sarcasm, highlighted the fact that my poorly condition that day was actually due to the opposite problem. She worked hard and I was a lazy sloth.

Then, just to add a little punch, I used exaggeration (also called hyperbole in some circles) to make my condition sound life-threatening. I did not have deep vein thrombosis, which is the sometimes-fatal development of a blood clot in a major vein of the calf, often due to prolonged sitting.

In fact I could not have had deep vein thrombosis because I had too much exercise for that. I got up to get snacks from the kitchen far too often.

I would also like to point out that I made sure my friend knew that I was poking fun at myself and not her with that same combination of self-directed sarcasm and exaggeration by dramatically pretending that my entire life is difficult — right after saying I sat on my backside in comfort and warmth all day.

But the Fates don't care who I'm making fun of. Once the gods — any of them really, not just the Fates — look my way, they just get this cat-toying-with-a-mouse attitude and start messing with me.

This week specifically, they set up my life in such a way that the very next day I was compelled — or, more accurately, forced by fateful circumstances — to spend three hours outside in the single-digit cold working. And I mean real work. Work for which I had to traverse up and down hills on foot, operate tools and breathe hard on occasion. I developed actual muscle fatigue. No kidding

I passed this information along to my friend — my dear friend.

She laughed at me.

Oh, the trials I have in my life!

(I probably shouldn't have said that at


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