Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Opposite of Schadenfreude

We all know that dank and nasty feeling, schadenfreude,  a gleeful emotional hiss of laughter at someone else's misfortune.  A satisfying sensation that panders to our vanity, and our own misguided view of personal justice. 

The other day, as a read a retraction of the Clinton and the swarm of bees story, I noticed they were quoting Ayelet Waldman, "journalist," who was apparently on the tarmac with Ms. Clinton.    Waldman and I go way back, ever since I fingered one of her published mommy mysteries on a table at Vroman's.  How had she swung that?  I was a mommy, I was a mystery writer, what false step had I taken?   There, on the book jacket, was what I had missed.  Harvard Law School attorney, married to Michael Chabon.

If you don't know him, Michael Chabon, at 23,  was a literary wunderkind.  Twenty odd years later he still makes novels pop, and  in addition is a screenwriter.  Remember the Spiderman with Tobey Maguire? So perhaps, in addition to Waldman's literary talent, she had a connection or two.

Since that fateful afternoon, I have lurked in Waldman's life, shocked to read of her bipolar diagnosis, been amused her tweets regarding her lust for her hubby, informed by her essays on mental illness, motherhood, and marriage.  And now, close enough to Clinton in Malawi to be a source.   I asked my own husband (neither novelist nor screenwriter) what was the opposite of schadenfreude?

He smiled and said, "That's easy.  Old-fashioned envy."


  1. I must have missed this story. Your husband is a wise man.

  2. Waldman is definitely well-connected. I know her mommy writings, which I find bracing honest but sometimes a little unsettling. I don't know her fiction. I hadn't heard about her bipolar diagnosis but it doesn't surprise me all that much.