The Grendel Effect

Once upon a time this was this monster called Grendel.  He  lived somewhere near the Arctic Circle.


One day he was out bumming around, feeling lonely and unloved, when he heard the sounds of revelry from the King’s new castle up on the hill.  Feeling distinctly pissed off, he crept up to the walls in the dead of night and listened, with a growing sense of annoyance and envy, to the happy laughter of warriors enjoying themselves inside.  He was really cross, so cross in fact that as soon as all the contented warriors went to sleep, he burst in the door, tore off a few of their heads, ate them, and went home feeling much better. True story.

Sometimes, I feel just like that (apart from the tearing off of heads).  I’m sitting there at my desk or in my room or something, and across the way people are laughing and hob-nobbing, and I COULD go over there and join in – but for some reason I don’t.  I have this strange and unlovable combination of feelings I call the Grendel Effect. It goes like this:

God you’re boring twats!

I wish people liked ME like they like you (singular or plural)

I bet you’re secretly laughing at ME.

Why can’t I be just like other people?

I hate youse all anyway!

Does anybody else have an inner Grendel? Poor old monster – be kind to him, he can’t help it.

By the way, the real Grendel comes from an 8th century epic poem. It’s a work everyone should read once in their lives. This guy does a great take on it. For really great modern re-tellings, try Michael Crichton or John Gardner).


  1. Yep, it’s the eternal internal “push-me-pull-you” dilemma that makes absolutely no sense yet is there… I never thought of the Grendel effect as a concept, but I certainly will label it henceforth as such! 🙂

      1. Yep! But let’s go on feeding our (my) fantasy that I’m the only one of my kind, tragically left behind by a visiting spaceship to make the best of this dreary earthling existence!

  2. Yup. Even knowing I could join, and I’d be welcomed, I don’t. Sometimes when that happens, there is a buried, secret part of me that really wishes someone would simply break off from the group and invite me. That would clear my mood from dark and depression to everything feeling fine.

    I think it’s a combination of depression and envy. I’ve never figured out a magic bullet to get rid of it during those times. On the rare occasion I suck it up and go inject myself in the situation with mixed results. More often, I’ve stayed alone–and that felt worse.

    1. Yeah, me too. Life is full of contradictions and few people with real intelligence are totally happy and content etc, I think. Sometimes I’ve BEEN invited and I still sit there thinking, God, don’t you have anything INTERESTING to say!! Maybe there should be a dating/friendship site for Outsiders Anonymous. ‘People-hater seeks lonely misfit, for fun and good times.’??

      1. In those moods, being around ONE person who is cheery and happy pisses me off and makes me angry–especially if they utterly ignore my dark mood. Being around someone who is in an equally dark mood pisses me off, but in a different way. I don’t want someone to feed my dark mood.

        Being around a bunch of people who will talk to me on a human level, that’s a good thing.

      2. When I’m in a dark mood, I feel like curling up in my bedroom where it’s all grotty and not even getting up to eat. But my experience is, you cheer up when you have contact with people. Plus, in my life it’s not an option to avoid it (kids, dogs etc need tending). There’s something about eternally happy, cheery people that really turns me off though – I dislike them in some way and yet I know I shouldn’t!

  3. I’m pretty sure a frustrated Grendell lives inside me, I have a little list of people who would benefit from me ripping their heads off and chewing on their bones a bit, although I’m not really into eating people. My Grendell moments mostly relate to dealing with idiots, who I sometimes think I’m surrounded by. But frustrating as dealing with other people is to me, I also really enjoy finding those special few who don’t make me feel like gagging after the first few sentences. But I sometimes worry that there is probably someone sitting out there considering a Grendell moment for me… Cause I can be a bit of a pedantic pain in the butt, and even I can see that.


    1. See, I am so pedantic that I just realised that Grendel only has on ‘L’, and unfortunately I can’t edit posted comments… Or else no comment would ever be finished…


  4. Of course I have my inner Grendel…as a matter of fact, I’m supposed to go in the house right now and drink beer and hang out where there’s music, etc. etc., and I just don’t WANNA!! *stamps foot like a 3 year old* I wanna be all curmudgeony and hang out in my trailer with the comforter over my feet! But I won’t…I’ll go in, and TRY not to bite any heads off!

    BTW, “13th Warrior” is one of my favorite Chricton books…so different than anything else he’s written!

    There’ also a pretty good recent movie version that came out 3 or 4 years ago, with actual Nordic actors…never bothered with the Ange-batshit-crazy Jolie version. Why would I?

  5. I recon that the Grinch out of Dr. Suess is also a latter day version of Grendel too… Not the hollywood version, but the original books, my daughter loved the story too 🙂

  6. Talking about Grendel reminds of what Seamus Heaney translated from Beowful;
    “… the other, warped
    in the shape of a man, moves beyond the pale
    bigger than any man, an unnatural birth…”
    I know it sounds crazy,but I believe that the unnatural is what keeps the natural just natural:)

    1. I suppose the unnatural defines the natural and vice versa, just as the relationship of abnormal to normal (and subnormal). In reality though everything is ‘natural’ but some things are rarer and less viable than others – say, an ‘unnatural’ birth. Do you reckon?

      1. But if the unnatural hadn’t exist; the natural wouldn’t have any the natural owes the unnatural being crowned somehow:)

  7. The Heaney translation sounds suspiciously Lovecraftian, what with the hints of a mysterious creature.

    And yes, I definitely have an inner Grendel. As the brits say: “There’s nowt as queer as folk.” We’re probably all pretty odd, but we censor ourselves.

    1. That’s true – though some people aspire to be normal as possible, while others don’t, or can’t (I’m the ‘can’t’ sort, I just pretend it’s ‘don’t’).

  8. My inner Grendel has been wanting to burst out of me all week! I’ll make sure to be kind to him-she though, especially since him-she’s been doing a going job of not coming out and tearing off any heads.

    Love the touch of “true story”

    And you know, we say youse guys over on this part of the Gulf, just like you do!

    I don’t know why that made me excited.

    1. Grendel’s mama was just like mamas everywhere, she got very cross when her baby had his arm sliced off. ‘Did that boy up the street hurt you darling? We’ll soon fix HIM!’.

  9. Grendel is one of my favorite books! Eaters of the Dead was alright, too. In the movie version, I didn’t like Antonio Banderas as the Arabian man. Anyway, good stuff. I love this post!

  10. Oh God yes, i have an inner Grendel. Why wouldn’t I? What fun would i be if i thought everything was fine with the world. No me, course. Nice post as usual. LATE me … forgive me, your sparkly-loving friend.

  11. haha I’m glad you specified “apart from the tearing off of heads”, good to know!

    And yes…we all have an inner Grendel, no point being in denial we all have flaws

  12. sorry for late reply and thank you for the nice comment on my blog. That was my worst “Grendel” time. Wanted to tear everyones head off, not to eat, but to use as bowlling balls.

  13. Good concept. we’ve all been there. Maybe the antidote is to get a pet. People always want to talk to you if you have a cute pooch in tow. I used to know an old guy who took a lizard to the pub. always got him rounds of drinks when people asked him about it. Got a few drinks for the lizard too.

    1. I bet! I’ve always wanted to have a snake for a pet (a non-biting non-strangling one that is). Mind you I already have 3 pooches and a cat and I’m STILL sometimes grumpy.

      1. do they make them like that? I thought they did one or the other. btw, a few years back they found out where the story of grendel, ie beowulf comes from – its from the Thames Estuary, so this is England’s first folk tale,

      2. most people thought it was scandinavian but there are mentions of roman stuff that didn’t fit and someone looked at some old maps which match the poem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s