Nobody likes to hear bad news, but it seems there are people out there who kind of enjoy relaying bad news and have their own unique way of doing so.
Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about the bad news that drastically alters someone’s life like the death of a beloved relative, a house burning down, finding out you’ve been robbed, finding out you’ve been robbed and the robber then burned down your house or the discontinuation of the McRib or Shamrock shake at McDonalds.
This bad news is actual news that’s bad locally to globally. It’s something you would eventually hear on the news, and has befallen people you may be several degrees or several years separated from. That’s the news some people can’t wait to share with you.
The first person in my life to do this is my mom, but with her, it’s almost like the worst game of “Guess Who” ever.
For a fictional example:
“Mark, do you remember that kid who was on your soccer team?
“I remember most of them.”
“No, this kid was kind of tall, had brown hair…”
“I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
“Yes you do. You two were friends on the team, he came over here once for your birthday party…”
“Umm...not ringing the bell.”
“You know him! His name started with a “D” like Danny or Donny or Dante or--”
“Wait. You mean Dylan?”
“Yes! That’s it!”
“Yeah, I remember him.”
“Well, he died yesterday. Turned to dust by an alien ray gun. Nasty way to go.”
I have to admit, that exchange looks funnier on paper than relaying it on a therapist’s couch.
Anyway, it seems that my wife, Amber, has picked up that particular baton from my mother. Amber, however, doesn’t play guessing games — she passes it right along to me, but at a slow burn. Then again, she works in the medical field so it’s more of a bandage slowly being peeled off the skin.
Let’s use the example of my fictional dead soccer-playing companion.
“Oh, guess what,” she normally starts. This is a trick question because she launches right into the story without waiting for an answer.
“You know that guy who knew who you played soccer with, Dylan? So, his fiancee’ posted on Facebook that he didn’t come home from his job at the bank, and she tried everyone, she called his parents, his friends, the police, and nobody could find him. Well, I guess the Martians got him, zapped him when he was crossing the street during Monday’s invasion. All hail Leader Zort, by the way. Yeah, nothing left except a pile of ash, a watch and some dental work. Oh, here comes our waiter; are you in the mood for an appetizer or no?”
With Amber, it’s not just deaths, but she tells me about break ups, crimes, infidelities, what fictional character is being canceled any given week and people’s general bad behavior.
At first, I thought it was just me. I thought maybe I attracted such news like I attract bed bugs and spare remote controls to unknown devices, but I was out with Amber and my brother-in-law, and Amber started telling a story when my brother-in-law said, “Oh, here comes Amber with her depressing news!”
So, why is it some women are the ones who are breaking these bits of news? You’d figure it would be more ingrained in our DNA that the opposite would be true.
Think about the cavemen out hunting and gathering while the cavewomen are home, cave-keeping and raising cavekids.
“How was hunt, dear?” she asks her mate, and I’m translating because the actual text would be something like “Blah fragh goop de-hrgb, dear?”
“Got bad news,” the male says. “You know Lugh from three caves down? He didn’t make it...the mastodon got him.”
“Oh no! Shalg must be a wreck! I’ll go over and see her.”
“No need. I claimed her as my second wife. She’s outside the cave carving up the mastodon.”
I know that sounds sexist, but keep in mind that was roughly a million years ago--give or take a few hundred thousand years. If you want to cancel the history of the caveman next for being problematic, then good luck with that, but don’t tell me about it.
I’m sure my wife is going to sit down to dinner one week and say, “Guess what? Now they’re trying to cancel the caveman!”
According to Hofmann is written by staff reporter Mark Hofmann of Rostraver Township. His books, “Good Mourning! A Guide to Biting the Big One...and Dying, Too” and “Stupid Brain,” are available on Amazon.com. He co-hosts the “Locally Yours” radio show on WMBS 590 AM every Friday.