I’ve always felt deprived because I don’t have an arch-enemy.
I’ve always felt deprived because I don’t have an arch-enemy. Batman and the Joker, Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, Dr. Who and The Master, Dracula and Van Helsing, Superman and Lex Luthor.... It seems everyone has an archenemy except me. Yes, there are people out there who irritate me, and a few I actively dislike, but an archenemy? No. What is the difference between a regular enemy and an archenemy? No, it’s not the shape of their feet. (At least, I don’t think that’s the difference. Any podiatrist readers are welcome to correct me if necessary.) To be a true archenemy, you and the other person have to be roughly equal, like the Red Queen and the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland. Archenemies have to have the ability to actually destroy each other if necessary. That ant on the sidewalk can’t be your archenemy because you can step on it. On the other hand, if it’s carrying a deadly disease and bites you, it’s much more of an equal battle. But would the ant want to do it? Would the ant feel a rush of triumph at seeing it cause your downfall? That leads to the next requirement for an archenemy: it’s gotta become personal at some point. True archenemies honestly long for the other’s utter defeat and/or death, usually as humiliating as possible. The Wicked Witch of the West and Dorothy can’t be true archenemies because Dorothy didn’t genuinely hate the witch and want to see her destroyed. Dorothy just wanted to be left alone. When she killed the witch (spoiler alert!) it was an accident. She was trying to put out a fire and had no idea the water would have such a negative impact on the witch. You’ll notice all the archenemies on my list are male. Females have archenemies too, but tend to approach it differently. Open throat-cutting hostility — like that displayed by the movie stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in real life in the 1940s and 50s — is rarer because it’s maybe more socially unacceptable among females. At some level Betty and Veronica are archenemies, although they usually hide it, even from themselves. Females seem more likely to become “frenemies” with their archenemy, perhaps following Don Corleone’s advice in The Godfather, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” The value of a good archenemy is having one forces you to push yourself harder. It focuses you by giving you something to test yourself against. (Point of disclosure: I have had an archenemy, but I married her so she doesn’t count any more. And yes, I ran that line past her and got her okay to use it. She said it’s no big deal since I was her archenemy then, too.)