This is my favorite word. Pronounced, [ shaad’n fròydə ], it is defined as enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others. Believe it or not, this is the kindest definition I could find. There were a lot of other definitions that included words like malicious, smug and gloating, but I felt those to be a bit harsh.
I have a habit of laughing at something on impulse before I know exactly what is going on. For example, sometimes when people fall, it looks really funny. I’m not talking about a little humorous, but a really hilarious tumble. What I find funny is the actual fall. I’m not laughing at the pain that person may be in, the embarrassment they probably feel or the humiliation of trying to regain their composure. It’s just that complete out of control look of a person that gets to me. It may be why it always puts a smile on my face when I see Woody from the Toy Story movies run. His limbs are all crazy and seemingly uncontrollable, but his head and body are fairly stationary. It’s unnatural and subsequently, I find it funny.
My schadenfreude sickness does not discriminate. Nor race, nor sex, nor age will save you from my laughter. Case in point, please enjoy the following:
That is my son. My flesh and blood. He face planted himself right into the sand and all you hear from me is laughter. Was I concerned that he was hurt? Sure, but I couldn’t help myself. It just comes out of me! And for the record, Rory was fine. He didn’t even cry. Having tough kids only encourages me to laugh first and ask questions later.
Another frequent victim of my inappropriateness is my husband. He’s going to be mad about this, but he trips on occasion. The house we used to live in had a lot of steps and every once and awhile, I would hear a loud thump, some scrambling and then a continuation up the stairs. I usually didn’t get to witness these stumbles, but the sound alone was enough to send me into some uncontrollable hysterics. I also laugh when he steps on the kids’ toys. He is somewhat dramatic when it comes to hurting himself. A little too much Peter Griffin, if you know what I mean.
Now, I’m not saying I’m the most graceful, far from it. In fact, I have fallen, tripped and injured myself more times than I care to admit, but I try to laugh at myself or at the very least, blame someone else for tripping me. The fact of the matter is, I try to find humor as often as I can and unfortunately, it may come in the form of your misfortune. I guess you can take this as a warning and maybe you can also look at it as a preemptive apology because as hard as I have tried to contain my gut reactions, it just seems to be getting worse. Shows like Tosh.0 and my new favorite, An Idiot Abroad, only fuel the schadenfreude flame. I can at least say that I’m not profiting from it.