For those not familiar, it means something along the lines of “glee at another’s misfortune.” Only Germans would create a word so underhandedly mean, so deliciously evil. (Sorry to all my German friends, you know it’s true!) I personally think you can also capture the same spirit with the German phrase, “Oh…. wie schade.” (Accompanied by an overly sympathetic look and much head-shaking). Which means, “Oh, what a shame.” When you mean quite the opposite.
I am calling these poor specimens above, which are thankfully NOT in my yard, my schadenfreude shrubs. I drive past them every day and indulge in wrong thoughts. Something like… I have a lot of dead ish in my yard, but nothing that ugly. Wie schade! I relish a small evil-minded joy at not having the ugliest plants in the neighborhood, which these suffering bushes surely must be. They look like they came through a forest fire. Pull them out already!
A funny thing happened when I was trying to document this dried-out misery. I’d been driving by these bushes for weeks and laughing at them, thinking I needed to chronicle their crappiness. One day, I finally pulled over to do so and a short little guy with a weedwacker suddenly popped out of the kind-of hidden driveway at that exact moment. And of course looked at me all hard, like what the hell are you doing? (Of course, in Fitchburg that faux hard look is rather common.)
I jumped back in my car. Uh, later. I was able to get the pic later in the day, when the remiss gardener had gone back inside. (I drive by this yard a lot.) I have to admit, I felt a little guilty after seeing him with the weedwacker, though, since he was obviously out trying to make some difference amidst the ruins. Poor guy.
It’s weird, because the neighboring houses have similar bushes and they don’t look like this. Maybe this guy’s a Cooler too. Probably some other blogger is out shooting my moldy Bee Balm right now and shaking her head, wondering why I don’t just cut it back. Or do whatever a knowledgeable gardener should be doing. Wie schade.