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By Amy Phillips Penn
“You know my Mom. If it’s not broke, break it.” — Serena van der Woodsen, Gossip Girl


“Sabotage – a deliberate action aimed at weakening a polity or corporation through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is a saboteur. Saboteurs typically try to conceal their identities because of the consequences of their actions. Any unexplained adverse condition might be sabotage. Sabotage is sometimes called tampering, meddling, tinkering, malicious pranks, malicious hacking, a practical joke or the like to avoid needing to invoke legal and organizational requirements for addressing sabotage.”

Thank you, Wiki.

Welcome, Saboteurs! Sounds amusante, nest-ce-pas? Shaking fate up faster than a blender of Margaritas laced with oxycontin doing the Macarena. Sabotage: An uninvited toxic ingredient into a frenemy’s life, punctuated by the predatory pop of a Dom P cork. Plotters beware: There’s no boomerang like sabotage, and where it lands, no one knows.

Gotta love Gossip Girl. Take Blair Waldorf (seems like “Hilton” was already spoken for) and her “minions,” as she dubs them. They sit on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum, on assigned steps designated by Blair’s delegated stature. Garbed in teenage couture, they await her commands, and they love it.

Blair and her bff Serena van der Woodsen are best friends most of the time, until a man, a college goal, or just plain life, makes them turn on each other in paparazzi-ready attire; no hair pulling for the well-coiffed. Someone always gets caught, or confesses, then it’s a kiss bathed in kissy hypocrisy before the next sabotage jetés on stage, never daring to smear mascara — only reputations.

Sabotage may come in perfectly manicured Jungle Red nails (think The Women), but often it curtsies, blending into comme il faut. When my brother was four, my mother took us shopping at a children’s store that is no more. It was called Patrick’s, and its sign hung on the seemingly secure abode of the East 70’s and Madison Avenue. Patrick’s was a minuscule store.  My mother was in the back, when she turned round to see my brother leaving, hand in hand with a strange woman. In true maternal hysteria, she elbowed through the Florence Eismans and smocked dresses, in time to play tug of war with my brother and his mystery lady.

“What were you thinking?’ she asked my brother, half hugging him, while restraining herself from a less cuddly approach. “She was blonde and had on a red coat, just like you,” he explained, not even semi-sheepishly. It made sense to him. “What was your excuse?” she demanded of the lady in red. “I’m so used to having a child on my hand that I didn’t even think about it,” she replied, a non-apologetic reply, and walked out the well-polished door.

So many saboteurs…so little time.

Gossip Girl dubs these dalliances as “Upper-East Side,” but sabotage can morph, multiply, and go viral — just a limo ride away.

All in the family: A cousin of ours went through her sister-in-law’s address book, and flipped to a page of doctors. She dialed one, and then disguised her voice, as if anyone knew or cared.

“Is this Dr. Clark, the pediatrician?” she asked coyly.

“No, it’s Dr. Clark, the psychiatrist,” the nurse replied.

My cousin smirked in unabashed joy, and whispered the news wherever whispers blow.

Who cares, you may wonder? Probably no one who has a real life, but the three “e’s” encroach: ennui, envy, and everywhere.

My friend’s mother told one of her daughter’s new boyfriends that her daughter was a slut, and proceeded to give numbers and details; another friend’s gay cousin left millions to her ex-husband, while many a bff has hit on her friend’s husband. Trite, clichéd, but forever yours…unfaithfully.

What is it about sabotage that’s so tantalizing, especially when it’s wrapped in Porthault sheets, Harry Winston, and Dior? Is it the game itself, a sense of power, sheer competition, or boredom?

Whatever it may be, beware. It lurks in places you often feel secure on, a Porthault pillow stuffed with sabotage.

Remember these words fondly:


“The same person who bites the hand that feeds them,
often licks the boots their wearing.” — Anonymous (but of course.)

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