Stupid Tuesday questions, Radio City Music Hall edition

So you all know I love awards shows, right?  That’s pretty well established by now?

As much as I’ve bloviated about the Oscars, however, it’s the Tony Awards to which I have an actual, real-life personal connection.

When I first moved to New York City, I got to be friends with a nurse at one of the hospitals where I was working.  This woman loved Broadway.  I mean looooooooved Broadway.  She saw everything and got autographs from everyone.  Her apartment was loaded with Broadway memorabilia.  I once stood outside the side door of a theater in the freezing cold with her so as to snag Lauren Bacall’s autograph for my mother.  (Not super friendly, that Lauren Bacall.)

Anyhow, she was on the invitation list for the Tony Awards every year.  And she invited me along with her and her friends the next year.  It would be something of an understatement to say I was crazy happy to go.

It was super space awesome to attend, even though that year it was hosted by Rosie O’Donnell and Nathan Lane and not my #1 celebrity crush Neil Patrick Harris.  While I didn’t technically meet many famous people (except Cherry Jones, whom I actually have met twice now and who is just incredibly nice even to total nobodies like me), I did get to mill around the same ballroom with them (and I rode up an escalator behind Marilu Henner!) and it was easily the most glamorous evening of my life and probably always will be.

So even though it makes me pine for New York City every time I watch, I always watch the Tony Awards.


That’s not the reason I always scan the list of nominees when they’re announced every year.  No, I always look at a particular category for a particular name.  And while I’m not proud to admit it, it makes me a little bit happy any year when that name isn’t there.

The reason I look for this person’s name is that it’s actually been on the list on at least one prior occasion.  He’s a former Tony winner in the particular category I check every year.  [Updated: I just checked, and it turns out he’s been nominated three times, with one win.]  And the reason I always indulge in a little bit of annual schadenfreude is that we dated briefly and he ended up dumping me via answering machine.  As I expressed in a follow-up e-mail to him, I was neither surprised nor especially upset at the break-up, and was pretty much on the same page, but it was maybe not the most courageous or gallant way of delivering the news.

I don’t actually wish him ill.  The break-up wasn’t acrimonious, and the relationship was brief and pleasant enough.  The year he won, I was even a little bit happy for him.  (It was long after we’d dated, and we’d long since lost touch.)  But it doesn’t break my heart when I don’t see his name on the list, either.

So that’s this week’s Question — what’s your own source of schadenfreude?  Out with it!  I know I’m not the only one who feels it.  (Heck there’s even a song all about it from a Tony-winning musical!)  Who will confess to feeling a frisson of not-entirely-admirable pleasure at the minor woes of others?  Please note — this is more along the lines of “I love to see the Dodgers lose” (I’m throwing you a bone with a sports reference, Kazzy, since I’m guessing the contents of this post might as well be in Farsi as far as you’re concerned) than “It makes me really happy to set fire to my old landlord’s properties.”  Sociopaths, please keep your answers to yourselves.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. I have to confess a certain degree of satisfaction whenever a “Bank on it!” prediction by Dick Morris is inevitably proven to be wrong. And not just wrong, but so incredibly wrong it’s like a guy at the craps table just knowing the next throw is going to come up 14.

  2. In ice hockey I always root against the Islanders, and I expect that anyone whose employer was taken over by Computer Associates does the same.

  3. For me its demolishing the other side in court, especially if they think that they made a really good argument and I can convince the judge otherwise by a simple, technical point.

  4. Most of my neighbors and friends are UMich fans. I don’t particularly hate Mich, but I enjoy their misery when they lose.

  5. Some times I wish that disappointing things would happen to people, but if/when they do I feel terrible. Like I’m partially responsible or something.

  6. We had a neighbor next door who decided to build a garage in January. Now this is Maine. At that time of year, the ground is frozen to a depth of about four feet.

    So he set up a plastic tent and brought in a jet heater to defrost the ground for pouring his concrete foundation. It ran non-stop for nearly a week. And then the infamous ice storm hit, and he lost his power for nearly two weeks. (We lost ours for a total of 45 min., offered shelter, warm baths, warm food; this is the oddities of how power lines are strung, that two houses right next to each other could have this happen.)

    By the time the power returned to our neighbors house, the ground was, once again, frozen solid. So the jet went back on; non-stop for two weeks. Can you imagine what it might be like, living next to a jet engine — less then 50 feet from your kitchen? Finally, the ground thawed, he poured the concrete pad for his new garage, and built it.

    Two years later, we had a couple of snowstorms that dumped several feet of wet, heavy snow each, one on top of the other; with the second storm followed by a day of rain that just soaked into the snow. Lots of old buildings collapsed. Lots of porches. And I woke, the day after the rain, to see my neighbors garage also collapsed.

    My great regret is that unlike the jet engines, I did not hear it.

      • I too enjoyed this.

        I’m ok with that because I’m evil.

  7. Too many to name in sports. They’ve probably gotten a bit mellower as I’ve matured and they’ll switch depend on my feelings at that particular time on a given team or player. But, oh yea, they’re there. Too many to name, really.

    Otherwise, I’m generally pretty live and let live. I don’t have any real life enemies. At least none that I know of. I had one ex who really burned me and who, for a time, I probably felt some of this towards, but that was usually indicative of me being in a worse place overall. Being able to let that go was hugely beneficial. Our paths don’t really cross anyway… we have some mutual friends but she lives in Minnesota or somewhere only terrible wenches…. err… I mean, somewhere far away.

    Generally, I’m not good at holding grudges. Except in sports.

  8. And I enjoyed Steve Garvey’s humiliation (going from Mr Clean-Cut to the defendant in two simultaneous paternity suits, and losing his blonde Barbie wife to Marvin fishing Hamlisch) way more than I probably should have.

  9. When I was in high school, there was a cheerleader who was wearing her little cheerleader outfit in the auditorium who was cold. She asked around for jackets (didn’t ask me, but I wouldn’t have shared anyway because I didn’t like her). But then she got a friend to ask around, and I liked the friend. So I gave the friend my jacket, who gave it to her. Cheerleader One then asked whose jacket it was. When she found out it was mine, she took it off, threw it on the ground, and yelled “Ewwwwww!” in disgust.

    Cheerleader One was very, very big into cheerleading. I took great pleasure when she was passed up for Head Cheerleader her senior year.

  10. 1. Anything that involves the Dallas Cowboys or Miami Dolphins failing (my great consolation as a Bills fan is that the last decade and a half has been only marginally less depressing for the Dolphins; this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that no one in Miami actually cares about sports. On the other hand, the fact that no one in Miami actually cares about sports makes their teams that much easier to hate).
    2. Anything that involves the Yankees or, increasingly, the Red Sox failing at anything. The Braves used to be on this list, especially in the John Rocker years, but I was no longer able to take joy in their failure after I learned Chipper Jones had named his daughter “Shea” because of his dominance at that stadium. It’s tough to root hard against a team of likable winners when your team has largely been composed of unlikable losers for the better part of the last 15 years.
    3. Various and sundry right wing talk radio hosts, though I’ll make an exception for Hugh Hewitt, as our own Tim Kowal has convinced me that Hewitt makes a very real effort at intellectual honesty that is actually quite impressive.
    4. Since there’s not many left wing talk radio hosts of note, my left wing equivalents are Michael Moore and Sean Penn. Oh, and Barbra Streisand. Especially Barbra Streisand.
    5. Scientologists and the “Church” of Scientology. No explanation needed.
    6. Above all others, Mayor Bloomberg.

    In terms of people I’ve actually interacted with, there are a number of instances where I’ve felt schadenfreude, but none in a way that is likely to recur; in other words, none where I’ve got any means or desire of keeping tabs on what they’re up to.

  11. I don’t follow sports at all, but if I ever get the chance to find out the Cowboys have lost a game (especially an important one), it makes me happy.

    When some loud-mouthed, anti-gay bigot gets outed from fooling around with the same sex, I always relish their pain. I also usually feel bad about that because there’s usually pain being felt by the family of the loud-mouth.

    I love, love, love seeing someone who was just road raging behind me get pulled over. I imagine everyone loves that, though.

  12. i used to enjoy the sports bar more, as it were, but american politics isn’t nearly as much fun. nyc has a lot more graft/insider baseball nonsense (it’s very local and provincial on the local, provincial level). i enjoyed it when spitzer got hung up on something he’d grandstanded on for years. plus weinergate was funny, it has that anti gay preacher caught with meth and funboys quality to it.

    but most of it tends to be more local graft, false charities, that kind of thing. not nearly as enjoyable. and though at one point it was fun arguing with nyc folk (by which i mean locals – the transplants tend to be more monochromatic) everyone’s either still on bush derangement syndrome or obama secret muslim syndrome and neither of those syndromes are my idea of a good time.

    • meant to add: my tolerance for oddballs and crazies (both the mentally ill kind and the merely eccentric kind) has decreased significantly over the years so random conversations with wackos in bars is now pretty far down on my list of “acceptable drinking time events”.

  13. Let’s see….the Yankees. Also the Flyers. And Duke.

    One of the biggest for me and also the most recent: A C-level exec from a former job of mine regularly made highly inappropriate comments in company meetings and one-on-one to younger female employees. The head of HR (female) not only turned a blind eye but also connived at his (and the rest of the management team’s) behavior. The exec was fired a few months ago and is still unemployed. Heh. I assume someone finally managed to get someone on the board to listen about the complaints.

  14. So this straight A student in my high school got on the bus and was in tears. Turns out she had gotten a B+ because she had failed to turn in some minor homework. She calculated her expected GPA with one B+ and how it might impact her ability to get into 1) Vasser, 2) Wellsey 3) Harvard and all I could think of was how I got a C in that class and was glad to get it.

    I enjoyed seeing her come down a peg, until I learned that her grade had been changed back to an A alledgedly because the teacher “found” the missing homework. This was after the parents had met with the teacher, the VP, and the Principal.

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