I’ve got a bone to pick with you
It’s a funny phrase, is it not? Kind of vague. Non sensical.
It’s a phrase that shakes me each time I hear it. It may be because what usually follows is a product of one of my (many) wrongdoings. A fault of mine that I have burdened upon others. Even worse; something that requires a conversation in regards to it. A reminder. Picking clean their bones of contempt towards me.
I was at my late granddad’s once, a lifetime ago, in his kitchen. It was a modest little room, a simple set-up with an open view into the humble back garden. As well as this, there was a chest of drawers that stood (somewhat obtrusively) in between the kitchen and back garden door. Thinking back, it was a pointless thing to have in such a small room, it didn’t even hold your typical kitchen utensils like cutlery or pans. Its obvious role was what many identify as a ‘man drawer’ – littered with mounds of seemingly useless items. Dead batteries, keys from previous addresses, blunt needles, frayed thread. And a lowly, unimpressive screwdriver. A faded red plastic handle encasing the bottom of a thick, rusting metal head. It held no merit or accolade in its proficiency, but for some reason, I grabbed it from the dull container, inspected it, and did something I can neither explain nor justify.
With its sharp, flat head, I drove the screwdriver into the top of the drawer, thoughtlessly scratching into it; leaving a splintered gash in the otherwise innocent wooden structure. Thinking nothing of this minor vandalism in my juvenile absent-mindedness, I returned the tool of my destruction to its place and headed back upstairs, leaving the wound open for all to see.
Some time later, I was in my room doing whatever my 11 year old self did (no doubt reading some Pokémon magazines), when I heard a call for my name. I didn’t immediately respond or reply to the voice for the simple reason that it was completely unrecognisable. It was far too heated and irately loud to even come out of my kind-hearted granddad’s mouth, yet when I walked out to the hallway and saw him looking at me with a blistering glare at the bottom of the stairs, it all became confusingly apparent.
“I’ve got a bone to pick with you.”
Though I was metres above him at the top of the staircase, I felt two feet tall. His sour look of disappointment reduced me to nothing but a confused little boy. Only as he began walking away did I head anxiously downstairs.
I don’t remember the details of the conversation that followed, except that I had damaged something of his, and for what? I guess I’ll never know. What I do know is that he spoke to me more sternly and intently than he ever had done in my life. He, the silly, fun granddad who never seemed to show a care in the world for anything and always was seen with a smile on his face, had changed. No more was he just the host of my temporary accommodation, he was an authority figure, and I had upset him.
I never wanted to see him like that again, and I didn’t. That may have even been the last time that I went to that house before he passed away. In some ways, I’m glad that I did what I did that day, I’d like to think that that silly wooden drawer still stands there in that house. The house that I one day left and never returned to. It’s almost comforting to think that my mark has been left there. The mark that will forever be an exhibit of a time long passed.