Tuesday, February 2, 2010
"SCHADENFREUDE": the pleasure or satisfaction derived from the misfortunes of others.
I wrote to my friend Patty, "I never heard of this word a year ago and now I am seeing it everywhere!" I asked my friend Alice about the correct German pronunciation.
Now, Patty and I trade "Schadenfreude" stories. My favorite:
I had never attended class reunions because I still had bitterness from my school experiences. The movie "Mean Girls" could have been written about one of my classmates. My husband finally convinced me to go to one of my class reunions as we always has such a good time at his own class reunions.
What I learned from attending my class reunion was that the more people change, the more they stay the same. In school, one of my classmates was a particularly snobbish, mean-spirited, person that I will refer to as "Mean Girl" in this article. As a grownup she was even worse as she remained just as snobbish and mean-spirited and yet proselytized about her religious beliefs.
At the reunion which was held at Deer Creek Park, I was standing under a tree, as I am allergic to the sun. Another classmate, Don, gestured toward "Mean Girl" and said to me, "You must know her husband as he works at the same place you do." I told Don, "There are 18,000 people there, so I probably don't know him." Don went over to them and then all three came over to where I was standing and "Mean Girl" said, "Oh, we saw you over here under the tree so I thought you were worried about the sun changing your hair color." (I guess that was her idea of charitable Christian humor.) Don said, to "Mean Girl's" husband, "I was telling Phyllis that you also worked at Rockwell." [ In school, I was Phyllis, as Sue is my middle-name] He asked where I worked and I said, "In the FIF". He asked for whom I worked and I answered, "Al Smith--but at at work, I'm Sue Raypole." He asked, "You're THE Sue Raypole?" "Mean Girl" immediately responded with, "What does that mean--THE Sue Raypole?" "Mean Girl's" husband replied, "She practically runs the whole FIF!" "Mean Girl" struck a confident pose, and tossed her hair and said to me, "Well, he's an ENGINEER, and he also works for Smitty." "Mean Girl's husband said, "That's a different Smith; she's a Manager; she reports to the Vice President AL Smith; I report to C.W. Smith; she's equal to my boss." "Mean Girl" said, "Well, lah-di-dah, isn't Phyllis special?" I laughed at her and said, "But we pronounce it special, NOT "spay-shul", unless, of course, we're referring to something being spatial" and I spelled it out s-p-a-t-i-a-l. "Mean Girl" was very angry because I had laughed at her, corrected her, and most importantly, outranked her husband at work. She turned away from us in a snit while her husband, Don and I had a fantastic conversation.
SCHADENFREUDE! Twenty-five years of bitterness wiped away! Laughter is the great equalizer.
When we completed the contract at Rockwell, I moved on to BMY in Marysville. "Mean Girl's" husband had worked at Rockwell for a long time, but was too young to retire. When I attended a funeral for another classmate's mother "Mean Girl" was also there. "Mean Girl" walked up to me and asked if I could help her husband get a job where I worked. I got in my purse and took out one of my business cards and told her to have her husband call me. "Mean Girl's" husband called me the very next day and although I could not use him at BMY, I was able to help him by being a reference. In our lives, we probably have to make only a few "moral decisions". I wasn't being NOBLE: I just thought of how much the guy had suffered being married to such a thoroughly nasty person.
Now I actually look forward to class reunions, but at the last two reunions "Mean Girl" has conspicuously avoided me, but her husband and I always have great conversations.