Schadenfreude x 3

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Schadenfreude isn’t a word that usually comes up in my personal conversations, but it’s cropped up three times in the past few days, which deserves a post.

Sunday night, Ingrid called me: “Turn on the TV, your ex-husband is on 60 Minutes!” In the middle of serving dinner, I didn’t bother, then she called me back later to give me the blow-by-blow: his third wife has some weird form of depression (well, look who she married 😉 ) that required them to drill into her brain and attach some electrodes. Of course, three other people would subsequently call or email to tell me the same thing, thinking that I might have some sort of weird fascination with my ex, who is certifiably crazy, and his apparently somewhat disturbed wife. Ingrid made two comments to me that stuck with me: “You aren’t going to blog about this, are you?” (yeah, right) and “Well, you have to feel sorry for her.”

Actually, I don’t feel any such obligation. After I announced my intention to leave my ex but we were still living in the same house — and running a 40-person business together — we agreed that we would not see other people until we were out from under the same roof in order to try and preserve our sanity and the business. Within a few days, he made it pretty obvious that he wasn’t keeping to his part of the bargain, and even made it known who she was: Ms “I’m So Depressed” from 60 Minutes, no less, who he met at a Landmark course (also known as “nutbar central”). I left her a message explaining what he and I had agreed, appealing to any sense of goodness that she might have possessed, saying that it was going to be very hard to keep the company together under the circumstances. He came back to me the next day with a rant, claiming that I had threatened her, and the rest is history: with 51% ownership of the business, I decided to shut it down a few months later.

I have to say, I felt a frisson of satisfaction that after some years of fighting her depression by sleeping with married men and adopting babies from China, she’s still miserable. Uncharitable, I know, but I couldn’t help that brief moment of pleasure. I made the mistake of sharing it with Damir, who responded that the German’s have a word for that — schadenfreude, which means to derive pleasure from the misfortune of others (damn that European education!) — and that maybe I shouldn’t indulge in it. His comment made me think, and I managed to stop gloating and put the entire topic out of my mind.

The next day, I clicked through to a link on a friend’s site, and there is was — schadenfreude — although seemingly out of context, and now I can’t even find it there. My overactive imagination, perhaps?

Then on Tuesday, I read Rick Mercer’s blog, and there it was again, in reference to Conrad Black wanting to get his Canadian citizenship back again after rejecting us all in favour of becoming a Lord.

Okay, I get it. I’m stopping the schadenfreuding, already.

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