Cultivation (My Mortal Enemy: Part III)

5 Steps to Developing Your Mortal Enemy

(If you missed them, click here for Part I and here for Part II)

Entering into a lifelong relationship with a mortal enemy is not something one does lightly. Ultimately, it is your own decision, but remember that this is the longest relationship you will have.

Consider that. Let it sit with you a while. This is no fling with a floozie, no decade-long dalliance. This is for life.

Let us approach this matter, therefore, in a calm and logical manner.

1. Seek Advice

Others should be consulted for their wisdom and experience. Oral historians must be sought out in the bars, for knowledge of any prior relationships between your ancestors and theirs. It would be foolhardy to enter this relationship without eyes wide open. What if it transpired that your family had aided theirs generations ago, or vice versa? Where would you stand, then? Both you and your mortal enemy would appear foolish, and the entire thing would be called off as a folly of youth. You might never find another willing to be your mortal enemy. Think on that!

2. Patience

For such reasons, it is advised to wait at least until your mid-twenties or you have inherited the land, whichever comes later (although a secret urge can be nurtured since your teens, if both parties are game. In fact, these often provide the best relationships, since they simmer beneath the surface for years before becoming secretly official.)

3. Discretion

Official or not, though, your relationship must still remain an unspoken secret. Others may have their suspicions, but all on the surface appears as it ever did to the public at large. Expressions of goodwill are over-acknowledged, exuberant public professions of joy at their good fortune are commonplace.

To the outsider, it might appear that you and your enemy are the best of friends, to hear you speak of one another. But anyone who looks a little deeper might notice that such a profusion of positive professions is unusual for two men who never appear to speak to one another.

4. Barriers & Boundaries

Your families do not socialise, they move in different circles. Other neighbours are solicited for assistance if required. If this was pointed out to a stranger, they might note, “How strange!” and laugh, as if was the strangest most inconsequential behaviour.

On the face of it, it is. Beneath the surface, though, the very notion that in a time of trouble you would appeal to your greatest enemy is what is truly ridiculous.

5. Marriage

This part is strategic. A woman who you might not even like will be courted – married, even! – to prevent your mortal enemy from making a claim towards her (and her land, where applicable).

A tangled lifetime of thorny love and household strife is a small price to pay for stymieing you enemy’s advances towards a member of the fairer sex. Often, a most glorious and fond love can arise, unwittingly, from one man’s attempts to better his enemy.

Ostentatious shows of affection for ‘the missus’, public or private, to show how wonderfully happy the mortal enemy could have been with this wonderful woman. Each fondie is a twist of the knife in the hoor’s gut. Indeed, it is not uncommon for other women to cast jealous glances, wishing that their husband had as bitter a relationship with their own enemy, for the unintended benefits of such enmity are glorious indeed.

Next time out, we close this series with Part IV: Legacy

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The Silage (My Mortal Enemy: Part II)

Nothing is of more importance… than the silage… as ritualistic in its way as the Pentecost.