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).


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50 Responses to The Grendel Effect

  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! 🙂

  2. crubin says:

    Thanks for giving a name to something certainly all of us possess at one time or another. 🙂 Hey, are you laughing at me?…

  3. NormalDeviations says:

    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.

    • 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.’??

      • NormalDeviations says:

        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.

      • 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!

  4. eof737 says:

    Great teaching there…

  5. Capt. Savage says:

    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.


  6. babedarla says:

    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?

  7. Capt. Savage says:

    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 🙂

  8. Mira Jay says:

    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:)

  9. 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.

  10. menaduechun says:

    An inner Grendel? All the time…….wonder if it comes with motherhood and just wanting a break???

  11. PAZ says:

    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.

  12. PAZ says:

    p.s. What about Grendel’s mama? Is there a Grendel’s Mama effect to the effect of Grendel Effect?

    • 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!’.

  13. Tony Bird says:

    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!

  14. iamnotshe says:

    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.

  15. Ruthbug says:

    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

  16. leathel says:

    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.

  17. 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.

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