Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude is a German term meaning, “taking pleasure in the misery or suffering of another.” Schadenfreude explains why, at the time of Christ, the Romans took pleasure in watching gladiators gored to death by lions. It explains why in the mid-twentieth century, America was enamored with the antics of the Three Stooges, who constantly hurt each other. Schadenfreude explains why, today, curious onlookers gather at an automobile accident; often the more serious the crash, the bigger the crowd.

Sitting at the counter, watching the sidewalk action behind me in the overhead mirror, I am experiencing Schadenfreude. I watch a young man, perhaps seventeen, walk past the diner. His pants are so large and low-hanging he will surely trip over the cuffs and fall. I watch this socially inept individual with what has to be be a warped self-image, work his way down the street – through life – as I might watch him fall and injure himself. This kid is a Stooge driving into a light pole. He’s hurting himself but only the onlookers seem to know it.

I dated a woman whose son wore his pants oversized and hanging off his butt. That was more than ten years ago. Today’s young man on the sidewalk is wearing them even bigger and lower. Where will the pants be in ten more years? Down around the ankles? Or maybe completely off, removed, and pulled along behind on the sidewalk with a leash? 

The waitress looks at me suspiciously, “Why are you smiling?”

“Schadenfreude,” I answer. “No, not on the menu!”

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2 Comments on “Schadenfreude”

  1. paolo. Says:

    Unfortunately my friend, droopy drawers have a much more sinister implication than you waiting for the goof to trip and have a crack-up. This “fashion” comes from street gangs and popularized by ‘gangsta rap’. Yo! – in prison, where many gangstas learned their trades, belts and shoe laces are not allowed for obvious reasons. So once out, the ex-cons do not wear them with pride. Of course, like any fashion misstatement, con-wannabes copy the bad examples.

    Say what you want about the old gangs – the Mafia (if it ever existed) but one thing’s for sure, the boys knew how to dress.

  2. delwin17 Says:

    Kids today do some strange things. Congratulations all three of us have turned into our fathers. 60% of todays kids between 16 and 17 don’t have jobs and aren’t looking for them it was announced on a news channel just last night. Fortunately drugs are still illegal so they can still survive off the rich kids whose parents give them big allowances. And the ones that work so they can brag they only smoke Hydroponic. They HAVE to look cool to their freinds, not us. They will go hungry if eating means they have to be seen with a lunchbox or paper bag lunch. They will spend all day all summer working out on surfboards or skateboards or swimming but they will just sit at home if it means they have to be seen riding a bicycle. They will drop out of school if they have to be seen walking there. But when they finaly figure out they can’t get any without an autombile they’ll finally do anything it takes to get insurance. Actually we need to bring back the draft. Remember the draft? People that SHOULD HAVE BEEN working cleaning up in fish canning factories went to school and became todays leaders to avoid the draft. The draft was the great motivator and filler of colleges.


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