Today, a friend and I were discussing Mean Girls and I said I would re-publish an article I had published in 2010:
"SCHADENFREUDE": the pleasure or satisfaction derived from the misfortunes of others.
I had never attended class reunions because I still had great bitterness from my school experiences. My husband finally convinced me to attend one of my class reunions as we always have a good time at his own class reunions. I was always surprised by his lack of bitterness, but he is the kind of person not to bear grudges.
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 a worse person than she had been in school 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, was talking to me and Gerald,and he gestured toward "Mean Girl" and said, "You must know her husband Jerry 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, Phyllis,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.) I was Phyllis in school, but was always called Sue in my family and I used Sue at work.
Don said, to "Mean Girl's" husband, "I was telling Phyllis that you also worked at Rockwell." Jerry asked where I worked at Rockwell and I answered, "In the FIF." Jerry asked for whom I worked and I answered, "Al Smith--but, Jerry, at work--I'm known as Sue Raypole." Obviously surprised, he asked, "You're THE Sue Raypole?" "Mean Girl" immediately responded with the question, "What do you mean by THE Sue Raypole?" Jerry replied, "She runs the whole FIF!" "Mean Girl" immediately struck a confident pose, tossed her hair, and said to me, "Well, Jerry's an ENGINEER, and he also works for Smitty." Jerry 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 our little Phyllis SO special?"
Then 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. It was clearly evident that "Mean Girl" was very angry, probably because I had laughed at her, corrected her, and, of course, most importantly, because I outranked her husband at work. She turned away from us in a snit while Jerry, Don, and I continued with an enjoyable conversation. "Mean Girl" never spoke to me again that day and she and Jerry left shortly afterward.
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 the mother of another classmate, "Mean Girl" was also there. "Mean Girl" walked up to me and without any attempt of small talk, asked if I could help Jerry get a job where I worked. I asked how she knew where I was working. She said that Jerry had told her he'd heard where I'd gone. I opened my purse, took out a business card, and told her to have Jerry to call me. Jerry called me and although we had no position for him at BMY, I was able to help him by being a reference.
My husband said, "Wow! I can't believe you were able to overcome your animosity." I told him, "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."
Since then I actually look forward to class reunions, but at the last two reunions "Mean Girl" conspicuously avoided me, but Jerry and I always have great conversations.