A fly’s life doesn’t have much to recommend it. After all, fine dining for flies involves stuff you scrape off your shoes, and they only live about 24 hours. Nonetheless, the other day I wished I were a fly…on the wall.
A small group of people was standing around talking as I walked by. I did not know them. As I passed, I heard one of them mention a name I DID know. It was not a common last name like Smith or Jones. It was distinctive. In a town of approx 30,000, it’s hard to mistake a distinctive name like that.
To preserve anonymity, let’s say the name was Googenschlaker. (Props to my mom. For my whole life, her go-to name for an unknown person was Anastasia Googenschlaker.)
The reason my ears perked up was because Anastasia Googenschlaker* is someone I do not like.
I am a relatively nice person. Ask anyone who knows me. Kind to animals, children and old people, I try to live by the Golden Rule.
But Anastasia (as we are calling her) is one of the few people on this earth I dislike. Rather intensely.
I wondered what they were saying. Normally I would resort to a time-honored information-gathering technique like faking an untied shoe. Stop, drop and eavesdrop. (For those who are under 25, eavesdropping is the real-life equivalent of creeping someone’s Facebook page.) But I had already walked past them before the name registered.
I risked a glance over my shoulder to reassess the group. Nope – didn’t know them. Were they co-workers? Friends? Enemies? Were they talking about Anastasia or another family member?
Not my business, but I burned to know. Did the bank foreclose on the Googenschlaker’s home? Had Anastasia gained 80 pounds? Was she arrested for stealing the church building funds? Did her husband leave her for a 20-year old floozy? Could be any one of a hundred possible calamities!
OK, I’m not proud of this side of me. But it’s a slimy, sleazy little bit of human nature that we all share. Who doesn’t delight in the misfortunes of people we don’t like? (Nothing too bad, though, like ill health.) We curse if they enjoy good fortune. You definitely don’t want somebody you hate winning the lottery or getting on Oprah’s Favorite Things show.
I’m not actively wishing that something bad happens to Anastasia Googenschlaker (this is an alias). But if it does, I want to know about it.
I guess I’ll never know why an unknown group of people was discussing an unknown Googenschlaker. And that’s ok. I’m not going to lower myself to fantasizing about their misfortunes, even though I know that’s what Anastasia would do in my place.
Besides, if it’s really juicy, it will be in the newspaper eventually. I’ll keep my eyes open.
* Not her real name.