In the 2004 Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q the song "Schadenfreude" parodies the language instruction songs of Sesame Street. The song sung by characters Gary Coleman and Nicky, describes schadenfreude as "German for 'happiness at the misfortune of others'". In the song, schadenfreude is also described as "making me feel glad that I'm not you" and "people taking pleasure in your pain". The characters use examples like "D'ja ever clap when a waitress falls and drops a tray of glasses?" and "Don'tcha feel all warm and cozy, watching people out in the rain?" as being schadenfreude.
So basically, it got me thinking (months after I saw the show) about a 'friend' of mine who essentially disappeared once I was happily married. She was already married for a few years (although the reason she gave for getting married was to 'beat you and [fill in current boyfriend's name] to it') and had a couple kids by this time. The last voicemail message she left at my house was turning down an invitation to something at my house, while not even acknowledging that the invitation had said my new name, and so did my answering machine.
I talked to her on the phone once after that - a couple years later, actually. She acted all excited to talk to me, but after catching up, she resisted any attempt to make plans. She has another child now, and I'd suggested getting together for lunch with both of our kids, or having a playdate, or whatever. She was totally vague about it and nothing happened. No loss from my side.
I wonder how much more she helped me to wallow in misery and whining about being single back in the day. She only wanted to live vicariously through my exploits and feel better about her being at a different stage in life, while only joining me for single people stuff, and never inviting me around her family or stuff with her other no-longer-single friends.
I used to think she was being considerate and not pointing out our differences, but now I'm pretty sure she just didn't want me to see her in any less-than-ideal light. Every household can be perfect, if you only hear the perfect stuff.