Brandon Minster, Staff Writer

I’ve made a few enemies in my life. I don’t keep a Nixonian list of them, but I could probably fill a half-sheet of paper. Most are former schoolmates or coworkers that I rubbed the wrong way. For instance, at one job I had an assignment that required me to work closely with a man I’ll call “James” (because that’s his name). We traveled together once a month. Every trip we’d reach a moment when I thought, “I wish he’d stop talking,” and with every trip that moment came earlier. Eventually I told him as much, and shortly afterwards our relationship became irreparably damaged when I said his favorite college basketball team received too-favorable a seeding in the NCAA tournament. Our last interaction was when he brought in root beer and ice cream, sent an e-mail to everyone else inviting them to his desk for floats, and sent an e-mail to me telling me why I wasn’t invited. James would definitely be on the half-sheet.

Church enemies are a little trickier, because most churches advise against being a jerk to people, but that doesn’t mean church enemies don’t exist; they just turn to subterfuge. I used to have a pithy political bumper sticker on my car, but one Sunday it earned me a hotly-written anonymous note under my windshield wiper, with a follow-up call from a church leader who’d been complained to. The leader told me someone’s feelings had been hurt (though he also told me he thought the bumper sticker was pretty funny). I never learned the complainer’s name, but I could put a general description of him on the list.

Unfortunately, I’ve become so adept at making enemies that I have some I don’t even know about. When I wrote for my undergraduate school’s newspaper, I got irate feedback in online comments from three particular readers. While they had screen names, their identities were unknown. I wondered if they were people I knew well, who were kind in person but fired up the old computer and channeled all their pent-up animosity towards my opinion pieces. Even if I’d placed them on my enemies list, if they were particularly skilled at masking their hatred, they could have been on a friends list at the same time (it’s a good thing I don’t keep a friends list).

Lately, my wife has been getting in on making anonymous enemies. A distant friend of hers wrote a blog post about her husband’s use of a motorcycle and my wife commented that she had always felt motorcycles were somewhat unsafe. The motorcycling husband has now become my wife’s blog heckler, popping up every few weeks to remind her that he hates her. Although she’s late to the game, she’s already surpassed me in the intensity of the hatred she inspires in her enemies. The student has truly become the master.

As much as I disliked James, at least he had the gumption to become my enemy face-to-face, and my wife’s new enemy is someone she at least knows by name. If she were introduced to him at a party, she’d know he was her enemy. Anonymous enemies want the cathartic benefit of hating without the messy social awkwardness of not being friends. Either they should be more forgiving of my shortcomings or they should own up to their ire. If the reason they don’t come right out with their hatred is a fear there’s no room on my enemies list, they have nothing to worry about: I can always switch to a bigger piece of paper.