Write a Love Letter to a Person You Dislike

Prompt from 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.

Yuk. This will be really hard for me. Forgiveness is not my strong suit. No one who knows me, or for that matter, has read my work, would disagree.

Let me come through the back door. What does the word “dislike” mean? Right off the bat, I can think of people I hate, or have strong emotions about, but dislike seems almost tame. Tepid. Lukewarm. Maybe I only run hot or cold. I either love you or hate you? That can’t be true.

The dictionary says that dislike is to regard with displeasure. Like fish. I do not like the taste. But then again, I’ll have a tuna melt for breakfast any time I have the chance. This is my sole exception in the fish category. I don’t care how the masterful chefs at Oceanaire dress up that Halibut.

Dear Shrimp,

You are a person. I am a person. We don’t have to love one another, and indeed, I’m positive you don’t love me, for otherwise, why would I dislike you? I’m certain I would not feel dislike toward someone who adored me.

So let’s assume you don’t like me. Okay, then I don’t like you. But wait! Perhaps I do! Maybe that’s why I feel dislike! Of course, that old chestnut! Unrequited love.

You have so many admirable traits, Shrimp. Have you caught me gazing at you too long? Have you worried that, if not discouraged, I would someday – gasp — actually say those words of praise aloud to you? What an embarrassment – for both of us.

Could it be that you are protecting me? It would be so like you. I’ve watched you treat others with such tender care. You have a very nurturing manner. I’ve seen your eyes fill with tears as someone – other than me – shares a personal moment. You’ve shared their pain and in so doing, made their burden a bit easier to bear. You are wonderful.

But why not for me? Why the distance? The standoffish manner? The obvious distaste for my every word and presence? Why the bitchy attitude, shrimp?

Reset. Look, I really do like you, but if you don’t like me back, that is okay. I pardon you. Now that we’re on even footing, I will look you square in the eye and say I wish it were not so. For in so saying, I give you a small piece of my heart which I’m sure you will receive and accept. And you know what Nietzsche says: If a temple is to be erected, a temple must be destroyed.

And so, my dearest shrimp, look to our new temple, filled with love and regard and not to our old temple brimming with mistrust and antagonism. For I love you now! There. Embrace me.