Merriam Webster defines 'schadenfreude' as pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. According to Wikipedia, philosopher and sociologist Theodor Adorno defined schadenfreude as “largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is cognized as trivial and/or appropriate.”
I confess to enjoying schadenfreude in the case that the misfortune is reasonably harmless; you know, more along the lines of the suffering being equivalent to mild irritation. I get an even bigger thrill to know that I'm the one that unintentionally brought about the irritation in the first place. You know, like those comparisons of 'what he said' vs 'what she heard' or 'what they asked for' vs 'what they got'. That crap makes me giggle like I just huffed a helium balloon.
So it happens the nephew's 7th birthday was this weekend. He's my only nephew out of a boatload of girls, and the little dude appreciates guns, star wars, and the restorative powers of Lego blocks. No Hannah Montana or Jo Bros. for my little Jack Attack, no sirree. You gotta know that he appreciates that Aunt Rocky understands the almighty importance of military service, the street value of Nerf darts and digging holes in the backyard. He and I are buds, and sometimes partners in crime.
This year, when I asked my S-i-L what he might like for his birthday, she indicated he's starting to express an interest in digging up dinosaur bones and other archeology-like pursuits a la Indiana Jones. When I saw him last Sunday, I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he backed up Mom's observation by informing me that he just absolutely would not be able to go forward into his seventh year without a metal detector.
A metal detector?? Doesn't that cost like $200? As I heard someone say earlier today, "Can I get an extra large helping of WTF??" I'm compulsive if nothing else, though, so I set out on an obsessive quest to find an acceptable metal detector for a 7 y.o. that won't put too much of a dent in my pocketbook. I finally found the National Geographic Junior Metal Detector ($35 on Nat'l. Geographic's website, but only $15.97 at Target - woo hoo!!). Metal detector from Aunt Rocky? Check.
In my defense, I really expected the whole metal detector experience to be something along the lines of this:
You know, he and my brother could putter around the back yard finding rusty nails, the occasional old coin and learn about science.
Instead, here's what the metal detector experience has turned out to be:
Yep, the bro's house has pretty much turned into a satellite office of Homeland Security and NOBODY is immune from being checked. Dad got scanned during morning coffee. Mom went through a complete security screen when she came back from the grocery store. You don't even want to know the torment to which his three sisters were subject.
Sorry, but knowing that my brother is under house arrest to a kid with a beeping piece of plastic is soooo much more worthwhile than the contentment of thinking Jackie was getting an educational experience. THAT'S enjoying schadenfreude, folks.
10 hours ago