Friday, May 16, 2008

The Green-eyed Monster

by Jo Robertson

Remember the scene from Othello where Iago admonishes Othello, “Beware the green-eyed monster, my lord?" The scene is so chilling because of the subtext. Iago warns his lord to be careful of being jealous over Desdemona’s supposed attraction to Michael Cassio while fostering the very seeds of jealousy that bring about the newly-married couple’s destruction.

Othello strangles his innocent wife because he believes she’s been unfaithful to him, has in fact lain with many men and plied her wares like a strumpet.

This is an extreme case, of course. Jealousy.

Such an ugly word.

And yet an emotion inherent in the human condition. Who among us has not been envious of a neighbor's new house furnishings, boat, or car?

What woman hasn't wished for a pair of Jimmy Choos or Minola Blahniks a la Sex and the City? What man hasn't coveted the sleek Jaguar or pricey vacation home of a business associate?

It begins in our very infancy, doesn’t it? The child plays with a friend and snatches a toy from him. Or refuses to share a favored item with a visitor. Then it progresses through elementary school. Johnny got a higher grade on his math test. No fair! Grace wrote a better essay. She must’ve copied it. Jake won the science fair project. I bet his dad helped him.

Such a small-minded and mean-spirited emotion, but who hasn’t felt a little spark of craving for what someone else owns? The twinge of envy for what someone else accomplished?

My daughters Kennan and Megan were both cheerleaders in junior high a number of years ago. The try-outs were held secretly while we mothers waited outside the gym for what seemed endless hours for the results.

Kennan was already a seventh-grade cheerleader and her position was secure, but her younger sister Megan was auditioning for a spot on the team for next year. I hadn’t realized how much emotional investment I’d put into this activity. For myself, cheerleading left a nasty-tasting memory of my high school days where cliques and Greek-letter sororities and fraternities and yes, cheerleaders, excluded klutzy girls like me.

Okay, that's not me at the right, but isn't Corinna, our budding cheerleader, darling? Blatant grandmother moment!

At the cheerleader try-outs, I was so afraid I'd have to face the wash of disappointment on my younger daughter’s face. Both girls are tall now, around 5’11” each, but then, while Kennan had started to gain her height, Megan was a short wisp of a thing, just right for the top spot on the cheer pyramid.

Thank goodness, Megan (left with daughter Sydney) made the team!

When the girls came out to tell me the good news, however, I carefully watched the expression on Kennan’s face. She was more excited than her sister. The shared joy of Megan being on the cheerleading team with her was like a Madonna’s light on her face. I’d never seen such an expression of sheer joy for another person’s accomplishment.

Yet another competition involved my senior daughter Shannon who was a member of the high school drill team. As an incoming freshman, Kennan had just made the squad and both girls attended a United Spirit Association summer camp at the nearby university.

During the last session of the week, the girls perform a drill-down, in which the 100 or so girls are gradually eliminated from competition until one all-round outstanding performer is chosen and titled USA Miss Super Sensational. The competition is fierce.

The drill-down began and gradually each girl was eliminated until only ten remained, among them both of my daughters – the senior Shannon and the incoming freshman Kennan.

I held my breath, not dreaming either could win.

Wouldn’t it be better for their relationship if both were eliminated right now? How would one react if she won and the other didn’t?

How would Shannon feel if her younger sister outshone her after three years of hard work on the drill team?

The contestants’ number dwindled to five, and then three. Three girls remained and my daughters were two of them. The final music sequence began. The girls continued their routine.

I fixed my eyes on Shannon, the eldest, because I knew Kennan would have no expectation of winning as a new-comer and a mere thirteen-year-old at that.

Finally, the last girl was chosen.

It was Kennan (left with son Ezra).

I stared at Shannon (right with daughter Corinna).

I didn’t dare take my eyes off her. It was as if everything I’d ever taught her, everything she’d ever learned about love and generosity and caring rested on this single moment.

The expression on her face was so genuine, so full of pride for her sister, so UN-envious and real that I started crying. Not because Kennan had won – she was the latest Miss Super Sensational – but because her older sister was a woman of such grace and compassion.

These are moments when a parent learns from her child.

Jealousy is an ugly emotion. Envy is destructive. Coveting is fruitless. We all know that, but all of us have probably experienced it in some way, either as the recipient of envy or the one who is envious.

What is your experience with envy or jealousy? Have you or a loved one ever given way to the emotion or risen above it?

Have you been the target of such an emotion? How do you feel about people who succumb to it or overcome it?


Jennifer Y. said...


jo robertson said...

Hehehehehe, Jennifer Y. And did you notice that YOU also won Brenda's book? Congratulations, you're on a roll, girl!

Jennifer Y. said...

Thank you!! I did lucky day, huh?

As for the question, I have been the target of envy or jealousy a time or two and I do admit to feeling it myself on an occassion. But I get over it pretty quickly. It helps to remember what I do have to be grateful for when I start envying others.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Jennifer, congratulations! TWICE over. The rooster will have some new reading material at your house. I know he's read CTC three times now. He wants a change!

Jo, wonderful post. And I cheered for your daughters - what remarkable young women they are. My observation of jealousy is that it does a lot more damage to the person feeling the jealousy than the object of the jealousy. Altogether an evil emotion!

Trish Milburn said...

Wouldn't the world be a better place without jealousy? Unfortunately, it's a basic human emotion we can't totally escape.

Congrats on nabbing the rooster, Jennifer. Guess he has to start traveling again. That bird is going to have a lot of frequent flyer miles.

jo robertson said...

That's a key point, Jennifer, being grateful for what we DO have rather than what we don't.

Sometimes it's so easy to think other people's lives are perfect, that they have it easier than we do.

Gillian Layne said...

Nice job, Jennifer Y. Could I be . . . jealous? ;)

If you just acknowledge the first twinges of jealousy, envy, whatever you want to call it, and allow yourself to say "Oh, hey, that is awesome, and I wish it was me!" then it fades quickly.

Jo, your daughters sound wonderful, you must be so proud!

Helen said...

Congrats Jennifer have fun with him

Great post Jo and I love the family pics aren't children and grandchildren the best.
As I posted a month or so ago one of my daughters told us she was having a baby (we are so excited) her siblings are very excited as well then a week after Brooke told us her news Rebecca our eldest told us she was having a baby as well (we are doubly excited) I did think that Brooke may have had her nose out of joint but I am glad to say she didn't and all are excited Rebecca is due 12/12 and Brooke 13/12 I am going to have a wonderfu Chrissy this year.

I am sure that everyone gets envious at times I am often wishing I could retire like some of my friends but I don't think I show it in the wrong ways happy for them sad for me.

Have Fun

jo robertson said...

As I said, I constantly seem to be learning from my daughters. They're pretty amazing women and sometimes I'm sure someone switched them in the hospital.

I've sure felt petty and jealous emotions. I think we writers are very vulnerable. We work hard year after year and sometimes don't see the results we'd like as soon as we'd like.

That's one of the great things about the Banditas -- this positive energy and genuine caring for the success, not only of each other, but our readers who are writers too!

Okay, too serious here. Somebody tell a joke!

jo robertson said...

I agree, Anna, envy is a very self-destructive emotion and one of the hardest to teach children, I think.

I mean, look at the human species. As Bones would say, the human race survived because of their selfishness. The cave men who shared all starved LOL!

jo robertson said...

Wise words, Gillian! Sometimes just acknowledging that we're human and we have these feelings, even if they're not so noble, helps dissipate them.

Fortunately, our family is not very materialistic. LOL, comes with having seven children. No one expected to have much of anything.

My boys, however, were quite competitive in sports and grades. The youngest especially felt he had to be as smart and athletic as the older ones.

Does anyone find a higher level of envy, competition or jealousy among boys than girls?

jo robertson said...

Trish, I know it's a corny song, but "From a Distance" always makes me feel like joining hands with the whole human race. Goofy, huh?

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Jo, I'm not sure if you're right about the cavemen who shared all dying out. I think people working together for a common goal is the only way we'll survive and the only way we've ever survived. There's obviously some evolutionary advantage to the unselfish gene or it would have died out with all those cavemen you're consigning to extinction.

jo robertson said...

Helen, congratulations on the imminent coming of new babies in your family. What a joy and a blessing! Now I could REALLY get jealous of that!

What's with sisters, anyway? My daughters keep having babies at the same time. I think they get together and plan it. In 1999, we had FOUR grandbabies born!

Gillian Layne said...

Dear Lord, Jo, I have three girls in the house, and if the level of competitiveness was any higher I'd have to . . .er. . . start drinking? (swatting the cats away from my margarita...;) )

If they express ANY interest in separate pursuits, I highly encourage it. But as this is a small town, they're usually thrown together. Such is life.

jo robertson said...

Right, Anna. I was thinking how the anthropologists say the males of the species are very focused and intent (think watching football or chasing prey with a club) and women are able to read body cues and language so well because of having infants.

Definitely pooling resources and learning from one another in a community-like atmosphere helped us evolve faster.

I wonder if there has to be the right balance between selfishness and self-LESS-ness?

Are there times when it's okay to be a little selfish? Huh, young moms, what do you think?

jo robertson said...

OMG, Gillian, how funny. Do you only have three daughters? No sons?

I sure don't mean to imply my daughters were all wonderful. They had their moments, believe me! At one point the three of them shared the same bedroom and a tiny little bathroom. Talk about drama -- and HAIR!! My gosh, there combined hair nearly took over the universe!

Gillian Layne said...

Ok, I'm seriously jealous about everyone's baby snuggling. See, I am very specific about my envy. I don't want to have or raise any more, and dear heavens, my own girls are waaayyyyy too young to have them, but I do love to cuddle and rock someone else's little darlings. :)

jo robertson said...

And that would be THEIR hair -- shame on the English teacher!

jo robertson said...

Oooh, Gillian, just talking about it is making me baby hungry.

So, uh, do the fellows get this way too? Huh, grandpas? P226?

Gillian Layne said...

Yes, three girls only. The older two are at the midnight opening of "Narnia/Prince Caspian" and so I'm keeping myself awake until I have to go pick them up.

I'm such a push-over.

flchen1 said...

Oooh, indeed, Jennifer Y! Congrats on the GR, too!

I've definitely felt jealousy before, but I agree that focusing on what I DO have to be thankful for really helps. And so true, Anna--being jealous is somewhat crippling (as is being angry, bitter, unforgiving, and some of those other hard-to-handle emotions). It kind of leaves you tied up while the person you're jealous of can blithely continue on her merry way. Well, maybe it isn't always so easy for her either, and I think that being jealous can blind us to that--the jealousy can be sort of narrow in view.

Anyway, I'm rambling now--going to stop! Lovely photos, Jo!! And even more lovely daughters!

jo robertson said...

I know what you mean about girls, Gillian. Mine could get me to do a lot of stuff. But their dad -- he was Mr. Push-over. Still is.

jo robertson said...

Not rambling at all flchen1. Sometimes I just like to take the bull by the horns and confront someone who's hurt me, unwittingly or not.

One year our neighbors (they were at least a hundred years old) hammered NAILS in the fence that joined our properties. My boys, then seven and eight, loved to walk the fence barefooted (you can tell I'm not the overprotective kind of mom).

My husband was furious, but I thought, hey, they're OLD. So I baked bread and took a bag of walnuts from our trees. They were so thrilled and brought us veggies from their garden all year. And we never heard another word, nor saw another nail. I KNOW . . .

jo robertson said...

Okay, ya'll it's after eleven on the west coast, my husband's asleep, and I'm going to sneak out for a Dairy Queen banana cream pie blitz. SHHHHHHH!!!!

I became addicted to these things when I visited North Carolina last month. Evil, evil North Carolina.

I'll be right back. Shhhhh.

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, I'm definitely jealous of the nosh-up you're about to have! But I think it's a fairly harmless emotion. Well, maybe not. Hand over that pie, Bandita!

Helen said...

One of my sisters and I did the same thing to our parents we had our babies 6 months apart so my parents had 6 granchildren between 1979 and 1984, but they are a joy.

My kids were never competitve with each other although they played a lot of sports and we have lots of trophies here at home and they often argued over who had the most or the biggest and still do sometimes but in fun.

As parents I really think we always tried to instill in our children to be very thankful of what we had and to remember that there were lots of people worse off and that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Have Fun

Helen said...

I'd like some of that pie as well Jo enjoy it!!

Have Fun

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Jennifer.

There's always going to be someone who's prettier, smarter and richer than you. It's easy to succumb to jealousy and envy, but it doesn't make you feel better or change anything so why bother. It takes a while before you grow up and realize that you need to learn to be satisfied or appreciate the things and people in your life.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...


Jo-Mama, does this mean you've given up that toasted coconut ice cream concoction you always get at Chevy's?!?! I can't believe it.

My brother's 4 daughters were pretty competitive, but not now that they are grown up. Same as my sister and me. DEADLY sibling rivalry (though I'll give you 3 guesses as to who usually won...)!

Right now I'm jealous of anyone who has cool weather. Last I looked it was still 80 degrees outside and it's almost midnight! ARGH!


jo robertson said...

Anna, it's all about KARMA!!

One word for the Dairy Queen -- CLOSED!! I'm sooooo jealous!

jo robertson said...

Honestly, Helen, I got the whole birds and bees thing, but my daughters are not playing by the same rules. How do they KNOW to have their babies at the same time? Really, there has to be some male cooperation there, right?

jo robertson said...

Ah, Jane, YES. It's too bad that some of us grow up more slowly than others. Age is a great equalizer, though, isn't it?

Christine Wells said...

Jo, you have such beautiful progeny, inside and out. I can't blame you for being inordinately proud.

I agree with Foanna, Jealousy can only be destructive. The good thing about authors is we're not really in competition with each other so much. Books aren't like washing powder. Someone who buys Donna's book isn't going to say, oh, I've got a book now. I don't need to buy Christine's. Success in this business is so abstract and arbitrary, no good can come of being jealous about it. And who has the time anyway?

Christine Wells said...

Yay, Jennifer Y! You haven't had the bird for a while. Treat him well, now, won't you?

jo robertson said...

No, AC, not giving up on the Chevy's ice cream concoctions, although I only have those when I lunch with my critique partner. Who, you say? Heheheehe.

We've had frightfully hot weather here (high of 97 today), so AC and I are very jealous of all of you in colder climes.

Yeah, yeah, as Helen said, the grass is always greener.

What's the Land of Oz like weather-wise?

jo robertson said...

'Tis midnight in hot, hot California, so I'll sign off for the night. But I expect to hear some confessions about envy and jealousy from you tomorrow. Surely I'm not the only sinner in the group, right?

Here's my dark secret. I had worked really hard for five years of high school (grades 8-12) to get close to the top of my graduating class. I didn't expect to be valedictorian or salutatorian, but I did expect to be in the top digits.

My senior year, along came Miss Sassy, Smarty Pants, who had just tranferred from another school out of state and took MY spot in the graduating class. Bumped me right out of the competition.

I was so disappointed. And green with envy. And MAD. How dare she? Trouble was, she was a really, really nice girl and deserved the award.

See why I think my daughters got switched in the hospital?

Christine Wells said...

Jo, it's beautiful weather in Oz. Cool nights and mild days. Perfecto! Soon it will get too chilly for this cold frog, though. I envy you the hot, hot summer. Not looking forward to all the kiddy colds in winter.

PJ said...

Good Morning All! Jennifer, congrats on the GR and your win!

Ooooh, Jo. I had that toasted coconut ice cream at Chevy's when I was in NYC last fall. OMG, it was so good! It's a darn good thing there are no Chevy's where I live. lol

PJ said...

I think all of us fall prey to the green eyed demon every now and then. We wouldn't be human if we didn't. The important thing is how we respond to the little monster. I have twinges of envy every now and then but, for the most part, I'm very happy with what I have and don't begrudge others if they have more. I think that is mostly due to my maternal grandma's positive influence growing up and the negative influence of my mom, who was a very jealous person. Her actions taught me at a young age the destructive power of jealousy.

I was feeling envious of those of you will be attending RWA in San Francisco this summer. I'd love to be there! But before that envy could escalate into full blown jealousy I reminded myself that the next two years, RWA will be within easy driving distance for me and - POOF - envy exited stage right. That's always been the key for me, reminding myself of the many blessings of my life, and there are many, and learning at my grandma's knee to be genuinely happy for the blessings others receive.

PJ said...

Jo, you and your hubby are to be commended for raising three women who are obviously beautiful on the inside, where it counts.

Caren Crane said...

Congrats, Jennifer!! Enjoy the rooster and the book. I'm only a wee bit jealous. *g*

Actually, I'm not too envious of most people. The worst of it is when some incredibly talented author friend of mine makes her first sale or signs with an agent. I'm always terribly happy for her, but sad for me. It's not really jealousy so much as regret and disappointment.

I do sometimes envy women who post how handy their husbands are and how they do these incredible things around the house and yard. My husband is wonderful, but he doesn't really do that stuff. His talents lie in other areas altogether. Having grown up with incredibly competent handymen, I find it frustrating. So, some jealousy there (but I chose him, so my fault!).

My girls are 18 months apart and tend to be in the same activities A LOT. I encourage diversity for them , but with only marginal success. For the most part, my older daughter comes out on top. But the younger never seems to expect to be as good as her sister, so it is usually okay. Still, I feel terrible for her every time! The few times she is ranked higher, for any reason at all, I feel such triumph. But really, I think it means more to me than to her. They are always thrilled for each other. Such nice girls!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

To the best of my knowledge I have never been on the receiving end of jealously. I have been jealous of other though ::hanging head in shame:: Over the years I have learned quite well that the grass is not always greener on the other side. I have my own blessings and I count them on a regular basis.

Buffie said...

Awww, Jo, I don't even know your daughter and your tale brought me to tears. That just proves what a great parent you are and that you raised your children in the right way.

Carol said...

Hi jennifer Y.
Well done, the GR has been
triping all over this week…Hey!

I used to clean house for a lady once,
She was stunning to look at,
Tall, lithe, shiny dark hair, flawless olive complexion, used to wear gorgeous clothes,ruby or jade green, looked fabulous.
A midwife married to a doctor,
3 great kids,
Social status, big house, 4wd.
Really she had everything material anyone would want.
…including me cleaning her house!

But she had a jealous nature.

Don’t get me wrong, I really liked her.
But she would tell me all sorts of stories about her friends, how they had this or that,
did this or that,
Her kids missed out on this or that because of who they were!
(not because they didn’t make the grade in the team/ballet)

Later they moved so the kids could go to better private schools.

I am so pleased I wasn’t born with the jealous gene!

It can cripple someone’s life, blind them to the truth
And they are never satisfied with what they already have.

Cheers Carol

Kirsten said...

Great stories about your daughters (and adorable grandchild!) Jo. No wonder you're so proud of them!

I'm with Caren on this--it isn't so much that I get jealous of what someone else has in a way that I begrudge them having it, it's just that I regret not having it for myself (there's a difference, right?). Before I sold, I definitely got a little tweak when I'd read about some first sale in the RWR and I so desperately wanted it for myself that I would be devastated that someone else got what I WANTED.

But I have to say I've never felt that about the Banditas. I get awed and terrified that my book will be out there in the same universe with theirs, but never jealous. Banditas deserve ever ounce of success they get!

As for my biological sister (as opposed to my Bandita sisters)...oooo, I have a huge complex when it comes to my big sis. Not envy, just insecurity. My mom was very deliberate about steering us toward different activities. For me, it was horses. For my sister, ballet. And thank goodness we weren't interested in the same sports. Because she's taller, skinnier, prettier, more coordinated, disciplined, and smarter than I am. So it wouldn't have gone well for me if we'd competed! ;-)

Joan said...

Jennifer. I am SO jealous you snagged the GR :-)

I'm sure I've been victim of jealous feelings in my teen years...few of us escaped that.

My most recent though came the year I finaled in the GH. I heard 'through the grapevine' that a very dear friend had vetoed getting me a congratulatory gift because "we don't want to rub it in other peoples faces".


Went through me like a knife. Left me stunned and hurting. And because I let it get to me I came THIS close to letting the opportunity to bond with the Banditas slip away. THIS CLOSE.

I shiver to think about it.

Now, up your window and look toward KY. It is COLD here!

Cheri2628 said...

Jealousy is a common emotion that all of us fall prey to once in a while, but often you will hear on the news of extreme jealousy that has tragic consequences.

But in romantic fiction, I think a little jealousy is a good thing. Sometimes a little bite from the green-eyed monster is enough to reveal the hero/heroine's true feelings.

doglady said...

Double whammy, Jennifer! Way to go! We are all jealous!

Jo, you have raised some truly lovely ladies and your grandbaby is a DOLL!Your daughters' ability to take pleasure in each other's successes will be such a boon to them for the rest of their lives. Everyone needs someone on their sidelines cheering them on!

My best friend in grad school was a 6 foot tall gorgeous blond with a heavenly lyric soprano voice. We did not often audition for the same roles, but it did happen on occasion. I can honestly say we were genuinely happy as long as one of us got the part! Now if someone outside our studio got the role we were not happy! People fully expected us to be at each other's throats and it never happened. We admired each other's talent and helped each other learn roles.

Now at the Mozarteum and in the opera company all bets were off. Auditions were cut throat and filled with rivalry.

Like my buddy, Gillian, said - you aren't human if you don't have that moment of "Why not me?" It is perfectly understandable. The key is not to wallow in it. A very wise Bandita told me that if they are buying someone else's book, they are still buying! And you could be next! I totally agree!

jo robertson said...

LOL at your comment about not buying another book if you already have one, Christine. I was thinking of PJ's earlier in the week comment about having a TBR room!

It's pointless to be jealous of something that will NEVER go out of style and has plenty to go around.

So glad you're having lurverly weather in Oz. It didn't cool off here much last night and I awoke at 6:45 to the blare of our all-house fan, trying to cool the inside down from 77 degrees. Arrrgggghhh, another hot day!

Still, I remind myself that I've been in St. George, Utah, at midnight and over 100 degree weather.

jo robertson said...

I meant to ask last night, Anna, is a "nosh up" a decadently, delicious dessert? Or just a whaling good time?

jo robertson said...

I KNOW, PJ, there should be a warning on that Chevy's dessert:

Consumption may cause serious defects to your thighs!

jo robertson said...

PJ, how fortunate you were to have such a wise, caring grandmother to influence you.

Thank you, everyone, for the nice compliments on my daughters.

Actually, they're not THAT good :-D. There's too much of their spunky mom in them. Which is a good thing. I like my friends, like my heroines, to be sassy, smart, and a little bit flawed, which makes them endearing to me.

A little perfection can go a long way!

jo robertson said...

Oh, Caren, thank you! I was beginning to think I was the only one who experienced that duality of emotions when a friend has a sale!

I always ask myself, "Would I take this award/sale/gift away from that person and give it to myself?" Of course not! But sometimes it'd be GRAND if you both should share in the same thrill of achievement.

But I really believed in that old adage of making lemonade out of lemons.

Your daughters sound every bit as nice as their mum. Isn't that just the best thrill?

On the handyman front, I married a man who'd rather hire someone to do a job than do it himself. It used to bother me because my dad could fix anything, but I'm used to it now.

Besides, I can't complain too much about a man who does the grocery shopping!

jo robertson said...

Diana, I've had those momentary flirts with jealousy too. I think we wouldn't be human if we didn't feel those emotions, but handling them your way certainly keeps envy from ruining your day.

Which I refuse to do. Nothing can ruin my day. It's a rule in this household!

jo robertson said...

No, no, no, no, Buffie, as AC and I say on a regular basis. We mums don't take credit for our children's successes so we don't have to take blame for their mistakes.

And believe me, with seven children there are plenty of mistakes. We like to call them learning experiences. Although the learning curve for some is mighty steep.

jo robertson said...

Thanks for sharing that story, Carol. It's just so sad when someone thinks like that. Utterly crippling and destructive, and sadly, will likely be passed on to her children.

I can't afford emotionally to be around people who are super negative. It just leaches something out of the core of me that I don't like.

Give me them happy folks. That's why I like hanging in the Lair!

jo robertson said...

Oooh, Kirsten, I love how you expressed that difference between jealousy and regret, or maybe it's longing?

I didn't even get a twinge of desperately wanting something until my own CP Aunty Cindy sold. I was so thrilled for her, ecstatic, in fact, but I had hoped we would sell at the same time and I was disappointed for myself at the same time I was excited for her.

I do believe my time will come, but I'm a little edgier about it now, you know?

I don't want to take anything away from another person, but I want to share in the joy too!

jo robertson said...

Oh, Joan, I feel your pain. I remember well the mind-numbing happiness of getting that Golden Heart call. So sad that others can't join fully in your joy.

I truly think everyone was happy for me. At least, if they weren't, I was blissfully ignorant!

So glad you were the better woman. I don't know how we would've gotten along without you.

Uh, are you rubbing that cold in AC's face? We're starting to swelter here.

jo robertson said...

BTW, if you have a minute, pop on over to the Casablanca Authors blogspot and ready our own Aunty Cindy's post.

It's at

jo robertson said...

Good point, Cheri2628. I especially like it when the heroine is able to flare up those jealous emotions in the hero.

Jealousy in those romantic situations is a very telling sign, isn't it? Often the hero is unaware or unwilling to admit to his feelings until he perceives a rival.

The old caveman marking his territory. Maybe we humans aren't as civilized as we like to think LOL.

jo robertson said...

Ah, Pam (aka doglady) how true! I remember which Bandita made that wise comment too!

And I can't even imagine the competition of the music industry, particularly opera. My paltry little voice and fragile ego would not have survived that test.

shannon said...

My husband and I were talking about this very subject just yesterday! We have friends who we really like a lot but they have this big flaw... they are extremely envious people. I don't mean that envy that sounds like this; "Wow! Your backyard is so beautiful... I'm jealous." I mean the kind that goes like this...
Last year, after Mark finished a 10 week sabbatical he returned to work to find out he was being laid off. I had just lost MY job that summer as well, so that left us income-free and a little nervous, to say the least. Mark's employer gave him 2 months to find another job, within the company if he chose, and he got a paycheck during this time, but didn't have to go into the office. Just before Christmas and a few weeks before this 2 month period would end and he would receive his severence and lose all his benefits, he found a really great job within the company. So consequently he got to have a wonderful, stress-free holiday, was able to leave an extremely stressful job that was literally gonna kill him, I am sure, and got to start a new, fresh position at the same company keeping all his amazing benefits. When I told my friends this news, that Mark found this job, my friend's reaction was to say, "Oh you are kidding me. SO basically what you are saying is that Mark got 6 months of paid time off? Sigh... Whatever... I am gonna go tell my husband. He is gonna be so mad." I was stunned speechless. Can you believe that?! This is the kind of person that is so jealous of other people that she can't even be happy for her good friend when he is no longer unemployed and facing possible financial turmoil. So... my feelings about envy is that they are natural feelings to have. To want what someone else has, be it a nice home, great job, beautiful, perfect children (that would be ME. Hee hee) or a great relationship with one's spouse. But when those feelings of envy lead a person to begrudge others happiness and success then that is dangerous and may cost him his own potential for happiness.

doglady said...

I was fortunate enough to discover fairly early on that each of us is responsible for our own happiness. When I see someone who is truly happy I see that person as a resource. "You always seem so happy. How do you do that?" If I find something in their answer that I can use in my own life I am GRATEFUL, not envious. I am no Little Mary Sunshine. I have my days. And sure, I'm human. I have those "Darn! I wanted to win that!" or "Man, I came so close!" moments all the time. The key is to give it a minute and then say "They did so well. How can I do that well?" And you know what? The solution is in me devoting my energy to becoming better, not wasting it because someone else succeeded. I try very hard to learn from successful, happy people and you can't do that when you are envious.

jo robertson said...

Ya'll be sure to read Shannon's comment (even though it's a little long, baby girl, hee hee) and you'll see why I think she's so amazing.

I remember that incident well. The job Shannon lost was . . . well, let's just say VERY profitable . . . and then Mark was deployed. That's extremely stressful on a young family, but you handled it with grace and charm, even that snarky would-be friend. Shall I come punch her out for you?

Just kidding. See how she keeps me in line?

Glad you got through Shannon.

Joan said...

Uh, are you rubbing that cold in AC's face? We're starting to swelter here.

Not at all! I'm offering to share the damp, chilling atmosphere of the South!

I just had to turn my furnace on!

Joanie T typing with frostbit fingers

jo robertson said...

Ooh, I want frostbit fingers, Joan. See, I'm never satisfied with what I have.

What do the rest of you do to tamp down those gnawing specks of jealousy?

jo robertson said...

Here's a story that's a case in point on jealousy. It's called "Alligator River." This is the R-rated version.

MISSY wants to go across a river inhabited by man-eating alligators to see her boyfriend JOHN, who's deathly ill. FRED operates a boat and says he'll take her across if she sleeps with him. Missy appeals to her friend ERNEST for help, but he says he can't get involved.

She goes back to Fred, agrees to his terms, and sleeps with him. When John finds out what his girlfriend's done, he won't have anything to do with her.

She's brokenhearted and cries to another friend TOM about what happened. Tom promptly beats the hell out of Fred, the boat owner.

Question: which of the above characters is the MOST reprehensible? Which is the least?

Was John's jealousy justified or was he unable to appreciate Missy's great sacrifice for him?

This idea comes from the old Values Clarification program. Does anyone remember it?

peggy said...

yes i felt the green eyed monster
a time or two.i guess its something you have to learn raise above .

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Joanie, frostbite sounds WONDERFUL about now!

off to check plane fares to Louisville...

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Cheri, a little jealousy in a romance novel is great as long as it doesn't turn into something obsessive. Occasionally I'll read a book about a REALLY jealous hero who doesn't come to terms with that feeling and wonder what sort of life the heroine is going to have in the long term. I've known people who are obsessively jealous and it's like a disease. Scary!

Anna Campbell said...

But Pam, does that moment of "Why not me?" count as jealousy? Surely in some circumstances, it's just the natural reaction. I've certainly had those moments, but I've never wanted to rip the other person's achievement/reward out of their hands and clasp it to my heaving bosom. I can remember getting the, "I wish it was me," feeling when good friends sold. But it didn't stop me being incredibly happy for them and knowing they deserved every moment of their success. I also firmly believe that you can never tell what's going on with a person 100% from the outside. The person you may be jealous of could have terrible troubles you just don't know about. You know, the walk a mile in her shoes line and then make a judgement thing really says something to me.

I've had friends who perpetually believed the grass was greener on the other side and it meant they were never satisfied with anything they had, no matter how wonderful it was. Often they'd work and work and get to the other side - only to find it wasn't so much more fantastic anyway. But of course, there's always another side to wish for, isn't there? Hmm, I'm starting to ramble here. Must stop!

Joan, that no gift thing was JUST WRONG!!!! Finalling in the Golden Heart is a huge achievement and anyone who truly loves you should have rejoiced for you. You'd worked hard and persistently for that final and you got it - your friends should have been celebrating!

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, a nosh-up is a feast. You clearly need to read more Enid Blyton!

And I second Christine's comment about the weather. If anyone is ever thinking of visiting Oz, I'd highly recommend the autumn. At least in Queensland. It's warm during the day (mid-20s Celsius) and cool enough at night that you can snuggle under the blankets. Clear, clear skies. Just perfect.

Pat Cochran said...

We are not perfect. That ol' green-
eyed monster lives in all of us to
some degree! He escapes and makes
himself known every now and then,
it's up to us to beat him back! I
just keep trying to keep him at bay!

Pat Cochran

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

What a great post, Jo. I agree with you though on what happened to Joanie T. That no present thing? WRONG!! Kind of like saying, I'm not going to give you this vaccine because, even tho' they don't have the illness, I don't have enough to give to everyone. Uh-huh. Reaaaaaal bright.

I'm in the midst of a situation with the green eyed monster with a long time acquaintance. She can't seem to get past being envious of my sale to be happy for me. Its very sad. She keeps saying, "let's go to lunch and celebrate" then cancels. Or "oh, I have a little card for you" which is never sent or she can't 'find' it when she sees me.

I've suffered my own share of moments where I've thought "why not me???" or "damn it, I like my story SO much better" to understand it. I guess the difference is that like so many who've commented already, I get past it. Then I start looking at WHY not me? Is the story not polished enough? Did the guy I wanted to date (way back when) prefer brunettes? Grins. Or was it just the wrong audience for my story.

Sometimes, if it's me feeling the jealousy, it's work I need to do, so I learn. I can't "hate" the jealousy because it brought up something for me to heal. But I work on it fast because it can turn on you and make you miserable, can't it? (Been there!)

Turned my way it just hurts my feelings terribly, like Joanie's example. I learn from that too, though. Who's a real friend and who's not.

Shannon, had to shake my head over that one. Wow.

limecello said...

Wow - this was a great post. Haha, Congratulations Jen on grabbing the first post. And that's so nice, how your daughters acted - and to you, Jo, for bringing them up so well!
I think all of us have felt jealous, or been the target of it. The important thing is to not let it consume you - oh jealousy. It can poison a person.

Joan said...

The friend who was so hesitant to offer a congratulatory gift did celebrate with me. I just smiled and accepted it but it was painful. It took me a long time to get over it...truly over it.

We've both grown since then and she does not know that I know of her comment/veto. Thanks to my CP who reiterated to me "You've earned it, you've worked hard, be proud!" contantly I did let it go and found my Banditas.

Thank God

p226 said...

I can't really ever remember being deeply jealous. Except over a girl. Long ago. That sucked. I grew up dirt poor, so people having more and better material possessions than me was just par for the course. Jealosy seemed pointless if so-n-so had a nicer bike than mine. I didn't care. I cobbled my bikes together out of spare parts from $5.00 yard-sale purchases.

I mean, sure, I see a 911 turbo tooling down the road, and think "Damn that's nice. wish I had one." But real jealousy? Naw.

But that one girl... long ago... she made me INSANE. And it was mutual. We gave each other plenty of reason for jealousy. Hahah, it was a great learning experience though. Drove me to the conclusion that jealousy has no reward. Really. It doesn't. And it's a different creature than ambition.

jo robertson said...

I know, Anna. Those stories of obsessive heroes turn me off. They remind me too much of contemporary stalkers.

Which was one of the themes of this week's BONES, right? I won't spoil the ending, but what a cliff-hanging episode before the finale.

jo robertson said...

Wait, Anna, you have a heaving bosom??

I liked how Shannon said it -- it's okay to wish it was YOU, but not okay to hate that it was HER.

I had a "wish it was me" moment today when AC forwarded her ARC front and back cover. OH. My. Hell! It's soooo gorgeous.

But I'd NEVER want to take it from her.

jo robertson said...

Like Pat and Peggy said, we have to fight back the monster if it threatens to overcome us.

LOL, I imagine someone like Vrai Anna with a big ole hockey stick whalin' on that green-eyed demon!

jo robertson said...

Oh, Jeanne, wise young woman! I think it's okay to take a brief moment of self-pity, a little, "dammit, that shoulda been me," but learning from our experiences is what life's about.

Bottom line is I don't want to be the kind of person who harbors those ugly feelings. I wouldn't want to be my own friend if I did. And I like being my friend, uh, okay, I'll stop.

jo robertson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jo robertson said...

As you say, limecello, POISON, or at least a sharp little garotte (did I spell that right p226?).

Othello strangled his wife even though it broke his heart to do so (only Shakespeare can make up this broad-sweeping tragedy). God, I love that scene where he strangles her. I always want to stand up in the theatre and yell, "No, don't! She's innocent!"

jo robertson said...

You're a better person than I am, Joanie. I'm not sure I could forgive her. Some things cut too deeply.

jo robertson said...

Hey, p226, I was waiting for a man to weigh in. I'd guess that kind of jealousy (over a woman, I mean) would be the driving force for many men.

I've never been jealous over another girl about a man. Hmmm, my husband dated some drop-dead gorgeous women and I always wondered why when he settled down he picked me.

But I figured as the Judge Judy says, beauty fades but dumb is forever. Not that I'm saying the girls he dated were witless . . . even if they were blonde.

jo robertson said...

I grew up poor too, p226, and I think that gives you a little advantage. I never expected anyone to give me anything, not clothes or bikes, cars or college. I fully expected to pay my own way in life.

I'm always surprised at kids who think their parents should give them everything.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Ah, Jo, what a thoughtful post and yeah on raising girls that could put love of sister over love of self!

Currently I live in the land of appearances at any cost, (aka over spend and over borrow just to look like you have great wealth). Many a time I wanted the super new house with the vaulted ceilings, the wainscoating, the Ethan Allen furniture that people in our town have. But I also wanted NOT to spend on my credit cards or take out second mortgages.

So, I swallowed my envy and when the bank told us we qualified for a loan twice as much as we knew we could afford, we took out a loan only for the modest ranch house within our budge. Ten years later, with the economy the way it is....well I have to confess I'm glad we didn't give in to the green-eyed monster and try to over extend!

Suzanne Welsh said...

By the way, I do confess to also having a twinge of envy for those who have publishing contracts. BUT, I'm also thrilled for them, Banditas and Texas friends alike. As much as I want to be a NY publishing house contracted author, I'll be joyous for my friends and wait my turn.

Professional jealousy is a destructive thing, and the thing that suffers? My own creativity and that I won't tolerate out of myself!!

jo robertson said...

And I can verify that Suz is one of the most generous, praising people I know (no wonder she's a nurse!). She was kind to me before I even knew her.

I'm just saying . . .

jo robertson said...

Smart move on the equity mortgage, Suz. Lots of people here in California are losing their homes and it's so sad.

There's really no such thing as keeping up with the Joneses.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Oh Jo, now you've got me blushing!! Fanning face.

And in case y'all didn't know Jo won the Suspense category for GH in 06! We'd just met a few days before, but I was glad someone I knew won!!

p226 said...

Hey, p226, I was waiting for a man to weigh in. I'd guess that kind of jealousy (over a woman, I mean) would be the driving force for many men.

Men it would be my counsel to avoid jealous men (and women) like the freakin' plague. Jealous men are deadly men. I've known guys like this. They'd just as soon kill a woman as see her with another man. And surprisingly enough, they feel there's nothing at all wrong with it. As in, "if she cheats, she deserves killin'." There's nothing romantic about it. It's pure possession of an object.

Some level of jealousy is probably real and healthy. But I've just seen some really bad stuff come of jealousy. Especially from jealous guys.

I could tell a chilling story. But I won't.

p226 said...

Hey, as an afterthought (and means to derail conversation from the chilling story I'm withholding) how do you guys use jealousy in your writing? I mean, real-world romantic jealousy seems to come in two flavors. There's the sorta-light hearted nagging kind of jealousy. Then there's the dangerous possessive jealousy. Do you guys use either/both of those in your writing?

-- Curious

robynl said...

jealousy is horrible; one time in a small town I became friends with this new woman and we spent many afternoons together. There was this other lady who I knew b/c she was a customer of mine. The first lady somehow became green with jealousy and proceeds to tell the other lady that I was spreading rumors about her and her dh not getting along and that they were going to get a divorce. My goodness, what a mess and I was horrified. The second lady wouldn't listen to me when I apologized and blamed me. I knew nothing of her and her dh's relationship.

jo robertson said...

LOL, Suz, see you're always singing someone else's praises! It meant so much to me that I knew someone that night since none of my family was there. And now two years later, we're Banditas!

What a journey!

jo robertson said...

P226, I'm sure someone could give a better answer than me, but I think you're right.

Lots of romantic comedies revolve around the idea of misplaced or mistaken jealousy. After all, we have these great hunks at our fingertips (so to speak) and it's fun to have them fight over our heroine.

The possessive kind of jealous is a little trickier to write, I think. Would you ladies agree?

With possessiveness, you have to walk a fine line. Was it Austen who talked about someone's happiness being all wrapped up in a single person and how bewitching that was?

Romantically, that's a great notion -- we all like the idea of someone so in love with the heroine that he'd forsake everything for it.

But the reality is that could be a little freaky. I admire the writers who achieve that balance well.

jo robertson said...

Did ya'll miss the Alligator River story or did you not want to play LOL?

I'll give you a leg up by naming the characters' so-called transgressions (for lack of a better word):

Missy -- obviously sex with someone she doesn't love

Fred -- the boat operator is a blackmailer, a smarmy fellow

Ernest -- the first friend is indifferent to his friend Missy's pain

John -- the boyfriend is so jealous that he despises his girlfriend Missy even though the "mistake" or "sin" she made was for him

Tom -- who beat up the boat owner, is a violent bully

So who's the worst person?

p226 said...

Romantically, that's a great notion -- we all like the idea of someone so in love with the heroine that he'd forsake everything for it.

I think that's disconnected from jealousy. At least the type I'm talking about. In fact, I think that's at polar opposition to the concept. That indicates willing sacrifice. Guys I know/knew that are truly jealous, wouldn't understand such a concept in the slightest because their "woman" is merely a possession to them. And what's weird is, their wives/girlfriends willingly live with such an environment.

And guys aren't the only ones capable of such jealousy. I have friends whose wives are as bad, if not worse than any guy I've known. I think jealousy's a sickness. And unchecked, creeps deep into a person's soul and takes root. And it causes so much unhappiness. It's sad. And at times scary.

Gillian Layne said...

Well, I went back and read your story.

I liked Tom immediately, which doesn't speak well of my latent violent tendencies, does it? Quite frankly, I wish he'd pounded the boyfriend as well. Fred's pretty straightforward about his blackmail. He's slimy, but in an upfront way. I'm Ok with that. Ernest I just don't care about.

So John's the worst. Or Missy's pretty stupid not to realize her boyfriend was such a loser. Hard call.

This was fun! You guys should do more of these. Unless, of course, it reveals I have serious judgment issues....;)

Pat Cochran said...

Honey and I are agreed that Missy is the most reprehensible - she started
the whole situation. We also think
she didn't give enough time to
finding another solution to getting across the river.

Pat Cochran

Helen said...

I think the answers are

The worst Missy

The Least Fred
not really sure why but those are my answers

And as for the weather in NSW beautiful I love autumn my favourite season the days are mild about 20 to 22 celsius the nights are nice and cold great weather for snuggling in bed with a good man a doona and a fantastic book.
Have Fun

jo robertson said...

Agree, p226, that kind of jealousy is frightening and a little sick. Men and women have come too far to be considered possessions of the opposite sex.

jo robertson said...

Thanks to Helen, Pat and DH, and Gillian for playing "Alligator River."

It may be interesting for you to know that my seniors overwhelmingly agree with the choice of Missy as the most reprehensible person in the group.

They see her as a tart all the way and even if I change the parameters -- make it impossible for her to find another solution, make sure her boyfriend is dying -- they still think she's the worst.

Anna Campbell said...

How interesting, Jo. I must say my blame falls on the friend who could have helped but couldn't be bothered.

Cassondra said...

JO, sorry I'm late to this. Wonderful subject.

This is interesting. Am I the only one who thinks Earnest is the worst scum on Earth?

Well, I do. Demanding something like that from a woman who's trying to get to the other side of a river when he has the means to help her. People who see targets of opportunity and use them for their own benefit and harm others in such a way lack integrity and character and I would feed him to the alligators, then Missy could cross the river on his boat and the whole scenario would be different.

Second most reprehensible is the friend who couldn't be bothered.

Third most reprehensible is Missy, for not asking Tom to help her when the first friend would not.

Actually I kind of dislike these sorts of puzzles because it means I, as a fallible human, must stand in judgement of others' choices, and I think from experience that this in itself is unhealthy. Better to see what others do as their choices--the best ones they can make at the time--learn from them if I can but not pass judgement. And yet, as an exercise it's interesting.

P226--to directly answer your question, yes, a lot of us use that jealousy in our writing all the time. There are sick stalkers, jealous ex-lovers and spouses, and on occasion, the date with someone else (often set up by an outsider who can see the situation with broader perspective) which causes the committment phobic hero to "sh*t or get off the pot" because he realizes what he might lose when he sees the heroine with someone else (someone she really doesn't care for of course but is going out with to please her friend yadda yadda) and says "okay it's time. I didn't know I felt this deeply for her but I obviously do."

Jo this was a wonderful blog. Deep and thought provoking. I hate jealousy and it's a game I don't play. I haven't been jealous much as an adult As a teenager I felt it and hated the feeling and so tried to learn healthy ways around it. Fortunately I have never had to deal with it in my married life. I hope I never do. And as to my friends and their accomplishments, I kind of sometimes worry that it will never BE me, but even if it never is, I wouldn't take that from them. I get to share in their joy without the subsequent responsibilities of fulfilling the contract! ;0)

And it's often very painful to be the object of jealousy. I haven't been that very often that I'm aware of, but when I have, it's been nasty. It's always been other women--never men--who were jealous of me for one reason or another. Very sad. NOt much good way out of it.