How We Deal With Life-Spoilers (Especially When Our Favorite Character Gets It)

Letter Design by Jesse Ragan

Letter Design by Jesse Ragan

You know how it goes when someone spoils the ending of a really good book.

I remember casually asking a friend of mine about the new Harry Potter that I hadn’t had the chance to read yet.

“How’s the book?”

“Dumbledore dies.”

Dumbledore dies. She could have said “Good”. “Surprising”. “Sad”. “Freaking heartbreaking, that’s how!”… or any other variant that did NOT include “Dumbledore dies”.

Naturally, the five stages of Harry-Potter-Spoiler-Rage were quick to rear their ugly heads like a Medusa-Professor Snape combo:

  1. Awe
  2. Hurt
  3. Deep visceral rage
  4. The need to force-feed her every one of the 607 pages… and then…
  5. The excruciating feeling of unbearable loss

The loss of a moment, a thrill, a feeling. It’s like I was deprived of the fundamental right to experience the death of Dumbledore first-hand.

Sure, it wouldn’t have been pleasant. I would’ve probably slammed the book shut and locked it in my desk drawer as punishment… but at least I would have “been there”. In the moment. Gasping for air. Wiping my tears with the sleeve of my pajama blouse. Making ugly crying faces that only Dumbledore himself could see from Wizard Heaven.

“You ruined it for me,” I yelled at her in a book-nerd meets drama-queen hissy fit.

That was my first real spoiler, but ever since I’ve had plenty more. I’ve also witnessed others being hit in the face with the spoilers of their life. And their reactions were pretty much the same as mine. Whether it was a movie spoiler, a TV show spoiler, or any sort of story-spoiler for that matter.

Except for life-spoilers. When someone gives you a life-spoiler, your chain of emotions suddenly takes a twist, bends to the side, and starts zigzagging like a headless chicken.

You’ve been there already.

You’ve just started dating this incredible human being and everything is as whimsical as a baby-elephant balloon party. Every get-together is filled with incredible conversations, surprises, and that tingling feeling that you’re finally “home”.

One night you’re cooking dinner together, falling irreversibly into intimacy, asking each-other a billion questions, listening to childhood stories, future plans, and “what if” scenarios.

And then you hear it. You hear the rip inside when the words come knocking you over:

“Oh, I’m never getting married.”

Life-spoiler. The soul-crushing version of “Dumbledore dies”. Curiously enough, you don’t feel like yelling:

“I wanted to find out for myself! You ruined the thrill for me!”

The five stages of spoiler-rage suddenly turn into one huge soup of sorrow, disappointment, and a pinch of self-loathing. For wanting what you’re never going to have.

“I’m not having kids”

“I want at least four children, two of each”

“I’m moving to the countryside, where there’s peace and quiet”

“I have cancer”

“I’m not divorcing my husband”

“My wife will stay at home and take care of the family”

“I’m going back home when I finish my studies”

There are millions of different life-spoilers out there and you’ve probably already had your fair share of them. You’ve most likely given some spoilers yourself and unconsciously forced someone to fake-smile through an entire evening after hearing your devastating confessions.

But here’s the weird thing about it. There’s a place where book-spoilers and life-spoilers meet and that’s after the confession has been made.

You know what’s going to happen. You know where the story goes. And yet, you don’t move on to the next one. You hold on to your real-life story just like you keep reading the new Harry Potter, even though you know that Dumbledore dies.

However, there’s one crucial difference.

When you keep reading the book, it’s for the pleasure of re-discovering your favorite author, for the journey on which the book takes you, for the sweet familiarity of her writing.

But when you hold on to that person, it’s because deep down you’re desperately hoping the story will change. That somehow, someday, it will turn left instead of right and a brand new magical journey will show up ahead of you.

You dream of a happy ending where Dumbledore doesn’t die. And if, God forbid, he does… it feels like a betrayal. How did he dare die on you? How could he do that to you? Especially after investing yourself in five books already, loving him since the first page you saw his name on?

“Dumbledore, you ruined it for me!”

Valentina Volcinschi is a full-time copywriter and a passionate full-hearted writer. She’d love to be Zen, but she’s totally Buzz. She calms herself down with a good dose of post-rock beats, a bucketful of ice cream, and the possibility of a whimsical parallel universe.