To paraphrase a very old joke, I still don't quite know why my mother didn't make me a mornuntiaphiliac. Perhaps she didn't have enough wool, so I got a purple tank top instead.
To explain, my mum always used to be an inveterate mornuntiaphiliac - that is, someone who delights in announcing a death. Passing on news of a passing on, you might say. Indeed, she was a supreme mistress of this particularly dark art. Her skill with the extended, tortuously tantalizing, almost labyrinthine lead in, sometimes lasting several minutes and always culminating in the, by then, totally expected but somehow nevertheless shocking revelation of a friend's mortality, was second to none. As a party piece, it wasn't quite up there with playing underwater accordion or telling gags in Swedish, but, nevertheless, it formed a crucial part of my growing-up years.
So I got to wondering: Why didn't she pass this trait down to me? Perhaps, then, we all have our own Schadenfreude palette (that is, the desire to gloat and find happiness in the misfortunes of others).
Having thought about it, I instantly began to notice the said traits amongst friends, relatives and, indeed, total strangers.
So I decided to collect them. To admit to some of them, yes, possibly, but mainly to collate and christen them - each ambrosial bliss, each nectarious relish, each ravishing indulgence.
While in my youth there may certainly have been some self-preserving resistance to mornuntiaphilia, (see above) I am pretty sure that one of my earliest childhood recollections is of a turpaphiliac neighbor (the one who delights in the less than beautiful nature of a friends offspring) who took one look at me - despite being the shape of a space hopper now, back then I think I was already lanky while still in a cot - and said, "Lovely pram. Is that the Silver Cross Viceroy?" It may be a trick of the memory.
Going out only at night, then, I began to work at the local opera house and quickly became a benedixophiliac (one who delights in baiting a posh person). I will certainly admit to eboracophilia (see below) since birth. Now? Now I am but a verophiliac, (one who delights in being right) libresophile (one who delights in taking the free trial product and canceling within the period) with petrusophiliac (delight in namedropping) tendencies - but my deepest darkest joy, my most schaden of freudes, has got to be nothesohilia (delight in using new technology).
Here, however, are a bunch of philial friends to beware of:
Tim Lihoreau is the author of Schadenfreude: The Little Book of Black Delights [Elliott & Thompson, $14.95].