Pricey celebrity clubs and a little bit of schadenfreude

Okay, I'm filing this under "reasons I'm glad I'm not really wealthy and famous"...

Schadenfreude is one of my favorite words. It's German for "the pleasure that you get from the misfortune of others." As much as we'd all like to deny it, everyone experiences a little schadenfreude from time to time. The joy is, of course, multiplied when the miserable thing happens to someone who is much richer and more famous than you are or will ever be. Schadenfreude is the little bit of smug delight that you get when staring into a picture of Paris Hilton in an orange jumpsuit or Lindsay Lohan wandering, sweaty-faced and drunk, across the pages of every tabloid in the country. Lest you start to get down on yourself (or me!) for this pleasure, keep in mind that it more or less provides Lindsay and Paris with careers. Neither has done much creative work of note for the past few months (or, in the case of Paris, ever). However, there they are, taking up a huge space in the public consciousness.

My latest bit of celebrity schadenfreude came today when I read about an outbreak of hepatitis A at Socialista, a high-end celebrity hangout in New York's West Village. Apparently, one of the waiters was recently diagnosed with the disease. The fact that hep-A is passed by fecal-oral contact, combined with the fact that the place lacked sufficient hand-washing facilities, makes it likely that the illness has spread from the original waiter. Now, here's the beauty part: the waiter (who I'm nicknaming "typhoid Julian") recently worked a big celebrity birthday party. Demi Moore (one of my least favorite celebrities) threw a bash for Ashton Kutcher (another of my least-favorite celebrities). The guest list included Ivanka Trump, Gwyneth Paltrow, Liv Tyler, Madonna, and numerous other glitterati.

Everyone who attended the party is strongly encouraged to get a hepatitis vaccination (which are offered, free of charge, by New York City). Hepatitis A is rarely lethal, and it doesn't cause permanent liver damage. In fact, with a few weeks of rest and alcohol avoidance, the disease should clear up. I'm happy about this, too; as much as these celebrities annoy me, I don't want any of them to be killed. I don't mind a little bit of inconvenience, though.

For the first time, I'm feeling really happy about the fact that I'm neither famous enough nor rich enough to fully enjoy New York's stunning nightlife!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and co-author of Military Lessons of the Gulf War and A Chronology of the Cold War at Sea.

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