By Mandi Bierly
Updated October 11, 2007 at 08:08 PM EDT

When something bad happens to one of your favorite celebrities, do your friends know to break the news to you gently? Do they phone or email to see how you’re handling it?

Here’s why I’m asking: Last week, I forwarded the press release I received about Isaac Hanson being diagnosed with pulmonary embolism to EW’s News & Notes department. Three minutes later, colleague Abby West responded with the following: “I’m so sorry, Mandi.”

Now that we know Isaac will make a full recovery, I can admit what I was thinking: 1) How many times did that poor woman sit through my in-defense-of-Hanson speech last summer? I fear double digits — she shares my affinity for $3 mango margaritas. 2) Why couldn’t she have been with me in Amsterdam in February 1996, when I was forced to call the gentleman at my hotel front desk to ask what the word flashing across the television, on top of a clip of Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain, meant? (I spelled the word for him: o-v-e-r-l-i-j-d-e-n. He spelled the translation for me: d-e-a-t-h.)

Honestly, I don’t know which is more special: that we all experience these kinds of Pop-Culture Heartaches — see also: that moment when your favorite band broke up, your favorite show got canceled, or your future husband married the person he was actually dating — or that our friends know us well enough to anticipate them. Take my die-hard Durannie pal Sheila, for example. In 1993, when we were working at Syracuse’s Daily Orange student newspaper, people actually fought over who would have to be the one to tell her that a Duran Duran (pictured) show in nearby Albany had been canceled.

addCredit(“Duran Duran: Heungman/Retna”)

“I remember what I was wearing: a black turtleneck top and aplum-colored skirt,” Sheila says, 14 years later. “I came upstairs intothe newsroom, and Kate took me by the arm and said, ‘I need you to sitdown.’ She just started very slowly. ‘Simon Le Bon tore a vocal cord,and the show for this weekend has been canceled.’ I thought people puther up to it. I was like, ‘Right. Thanks. Nice try.’ She was like, ‘No,I’m not joking.’ I was in such a mood. I didn’t want talk to anybody.Everyone walked on eggshells around me.”

Our college friend Tamara, who stopped by the DO office that night to check on Sheila, recalls the coddling at the time of her biggest PCH after first asking me, “Why do I always have an example for your f—ing PopWatch item?”.”October 1995. Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson break up,” she begins.”I’m obsessed with them as a couple — I’ve just spent some time tryingto find their house in London earlier in the year. I’ve read the newsalready, and now I’m in Spanish class. It’s a nice day, so the teacherdecides to sit out on the lawn. We don’t really look like a class, sowhen my roommate Christine passes by, she stops, grabs my hand, andsays, ‘I’ve just heard the news. I saw it in USA Today. Are you okay?’ First, I’m like, ‘I’m in Spanish class.’ Then, I’m like, ‘I’m gonna be okay… It’s gonna take some time.'”

Your turn.