The Art of the Comeback

I have an expression for a bad comeback. I call it the Milhouse Comeback. If you’re a fan of The Simpsons, then you are familiar with Milhouse Van Houten – Bart’s closest friend. Once, the class hamster, Superdude, died over break. The classroom wreaked, and bully Nelson Muntz said, “It smells like one of Van Houten’s.” The best comeback Milhouse could muster was, “It does not!”

Yeah, not exactly a comeback to inspire awe in your peers.

I’m not necessarily a master of the comeback, but I’m pretty quick. However, I can think of two former co-workers who could use a lesson in the art of the comeback.

I can’t even remember the name of the guy I worked with at a large department store – I only worked there four months part-time before no longer needing the extra income. He was a likable fellow and had a decent sense of humor. But he never saw my comeback coming. Actually, I’m not sure he really understood it, as he kept walking into it. My conversations with, let’s call him Dude, would often start with this…

Dude: “Slack job! Always slacking off.”

The Jason: “Whack job.” (Then I’d just raise my eyebrow at him.)

He’d smile and walk away without another word. I guess he realized he didn’t have a comeback for that. Then again, like I said, maybe he didn’t get it as we had that same exchange over a dozen times in my short tenure at that employer. Who knows, maybe he did understand it…eeew, I don’t want to think about that!

Then there was Luke. I worked with Luke at the bookstore. I often gave Luke a hard time because I liked the guy so much. He was fun to work with and even more fun to pick on. When pressed for time I’d simply walk past Luke and say, “Luke.”

“What?” Luke would ask.

“You suck.”

That was it, short and sweet. Until Luke delivered the greatest Milhouse Comeback of all time.

“Suck better than you.”

Then his eyes got wide and his own jaw started to drop.

“Uh, wait. That’s not what I meant.”

Poor, poor Luke. Not only was his comeback severely lacking in bite, but it was overheard by three of our co-workers; one of which was the type to never, ever, ever let Luke live that one down.


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