Schadenfreude — How Bout Those Boys?



200 east 87th Street Manhattan, 10028

Neighborhood: Upper East Side

The Dallas Cowboys losing — my number #1 Schadenfreude trigger.

As you get older the word hate drifts from your conversation. It’s a bad word, and a silly emotion to hang onto. Life’s too short.

If you’re lucky, you lose it all together. If you’re really lucky, you save it for one person, one particular thing, or in my case, one professional sports team.

If I hear the two words together, Dallas and Cowboys, my middle finger lifts to attention and points at the speaker. I immediately hate the person and think they’re stupid. If that person is wearing a Cowboy jacket, I pray they were overcharged. It always thrills me when they also have a bad haircut.

Schadenfreude heaven is the tangible pleasure I derive from hating the Anti-Christs from Dallas.

This morning, I swooned over the NFC East Division standings, particularly, first and second place

New York Giants 11-2
Dallas Cowboys 8-5

I stared at the standings the way a GI in a swampy World War II trench stared at his wallet-sized picture of Rita Hayworth in a nightie.

Some background, two memories.

First memory is the year the Giants went 2-12. I was pretty happy about it because… That’s right they won 2 of 14 games. BUT, they beat the Anti-Christs Cowboys 14-6, and also beat the Kansas City Chiefs 33-27, led by Hank Stram, who perfectly fit the response the kid in Annie Hall had for Joey Nickle, “What an Asshole.”

Second memory. Robby Zimmel was an obsessive Dallas Cowboy fan. I’d be down the park in June suffering abuse over how terrible the Yankees were, and Zimmel would come down the park and start busting my chops over the Giants stinking, a month before training camp opened, temporarily wiping out my hallucinations that the Giants were getting better. I was always close to putting a garbage can over his head. I went in a different direction.

As good as the Cowboys were in the 70s and 80s they only won the championship twice, and got knocked out of the playoffs every other year.

On the day your team gets knocked out of the playoffs, no matter how well you did during the regular season, you feel horrible. Your world ends, it’s hard to eat, music sounds lousy and it’s raining in your soul. It’s the perfect time to send that person a post.

Every year, the Dallas Cowboys got knocked out the playoffs I went to St.Joseph’s rectory and bought a fancy $5 Mass Card. Not the cheap $2 card, the fancy card, the one with a glittering Jesus or Mary on the front. In case you don’t know what a Mass Card is, here’s a definition.

Mass Card

Roman Catholic Church — A card sent to a bereaved person or family indicating that the sender has arranged for a Mass to be said in memory of the deceased.

There was always a lady at the rectory desk, who was really proud of her penmanship, dying to write in the name of the deceased. If I told her, she’d never sell me the card, which was remarkable considering how many money raising scams the Church ran. The conversation went like this.

Lady: “Son, the name of the deceased?”

Me: “Can’t tell you. Mom didn’t spell it for me. She told me to get the card and we’d learn the spelling at the funeral home and after we find out, I’ll come back and tell you so you can put the name in for the Mass.”

I’d get the card and put all of my calligraphy skill into spelling out the name of the deceased.

Dallas Cowboys

May they rest in peace.

Every year, I mailed it to Zimmel, happily spending the extra postage on the fat card. My only regret, I wasn’t there when Zimmel opened it.


Thomas Pryor’s tales burrow through Manhattan’s Yorkville neighborhood in the 1960s. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Mr. Bellers Neighborhood, A Prairie Home Companion and Underground Voices Magazine. He can be contacted at

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