Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Schadenfreude...god bless you

Schadenfreude-The dictionary definition of this German word is satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune. We all know common examples of this. You rejoice in George W. Bush falling on his face politically rather then worrying about the thing he fell on his face about. You cheer more loudly for the Yankee’s being knocked out of the playoffs then you did for the Red Sox winning the World Series. You smile contentedly at Mel Gibson’s indiscretions rather then thinking back to the pleasure his movies have brought you. It is a very common occurrence. People are jealous by their very nature of those they perceive as doing better then them and feeling they don’t deserve it as much as you do. But schadenfreude occurs on a regular basis in all our lives more then we realize.

Let’s face it, we’ve all had a friend who had a job where they made a lot more then we did and certainly couldn’t have worked as hard as us. When you hear they got downsized you are there for them but you have that tiny little smirk in your subconscious. For me a lot of times it was, as I got older, at the gym, looking at some kid trying to lift a certain amount of weight and failing. This brought me more joy then the actuality of my own dwindling strength. Maybe it’s the person who’s always wanted to get married and pretending to be happy for their friend that is getting married only to feel a little better when things fall apart and your friend is once again just as lonely and miserable as you are.

So, what does this have to do with me? Well, I think I’m pretty atypical in my bouts of minor schadenfreude. Mine typically has to do with, what else, women. I suffer from the 2 most common guy forms

1) Duckyitis- this was made famous by Ducky in “Pretty in Pink”. It’s when you have a friend you have a crush of some sort on and your whole time you’ve known them you felt they were missing the best thing for them; you! You feign happiness for them when they are seeing someone even thought you KNOW it won’t last (coz they’re not good enough for him/her) and when they break up you’re supportive and hate seeing your friend sad but that small ray of hope that maybe this time he/she will see the light is like a fist pump inside your heart

2) You’ll never do better then me- This is more along the lines when someone you dated and still like and get along with starts seeing someone else or is trying to move on and nothing works and you’re happy that they are just as miserable as you tho on the outside you’re sympathetic and caring. Again, the prevailing thought is maybe, just maybe, he/she will come running back to me this time!

I guess I wanna know if this makes me a bad person? Am I the only one who thinks like this? Should I always be 100% happy for people and never be self-serving and selfish if only in my head? Maybe it’s not schadenfreude but it’s close cousins jealousy and envy.

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