How To Avoid Happiness

smiley

Once in a grocery store in Brooklyn the cashier seemed sad and preoccupied. When I asked her how she was doing, the story came out that she’d felt a lump and was about to go see the doctor.

She then reached over and pulled my hand onto the side of her breast and said, “It’s here, over here.”

It was winter and she was wearing a thick sweater, so I couldn’t feel anything. I don’t remember what I said, but I’m sure I was sympathetic.

george-segal-hand-on-breast

Several weeks later, I asked her how she was and I think she answered  distractedly that she was fine, seemingly forgetting that I had felt her up just a few weeks ago and she had practically been crying in my arms. I saw her periodically over the next year whenever I needed coffee or pickles or vast quantities of beer, and everything seemed to have returned to “normal.”

A more humorous encounter involved an older woman crossing the street with me one afternoon. I don’t know how we got into the topic of marriage, but her husband was dead, she was good with it (she lived in a 55 and older *active* senior building) and she summarized marriage this way: “I was a maid, a cook, a slave, and a hooker.”

maid

In a completely different situation, how I got on the bad side of Mrs. Bacchus, the elderly woman who lived in our old apartment building, is still a mystery.

She was like a human version of a parrot. Evidently, if a couple buys a parrot, the parrot will generally end up bonding with either one or the other, but not both. So it’ll only talk to one, accept snacks from one, sit only on one’s shoulder, and spend the rest of its life ignoring the other half of the couple.

parrot love

Mrs. Bacchus made it perfectly clear that she was a human parrot when my husband was emptying her trash for her one day (she was always asking him for favors) and she passed along some unexpected advice: “You need to get a better wife.”

53-534356_old-lady-clip-art-grumpy-old-woman-clipart

The only problem was, I hadn’t bought her, and neither had my spouse, but yet somehow the weird, unpleasant bonding had happened anyway.

There was a missed opportunity at Smart & Final going on a year ago. A woman in a Rascal came racing up to me out of the baking aisle saying, “What’s going on? Isn’t it crazy?”

I was like, “What’s crazy?”

“Everything!”

“You mean…politics? Or just in general?”

“In general! But politics too. Oh, don’t get me started!” And then she added, “Trump’ll get re-elected.”

Assuming she was saying this in a doom and gloom manner, like an Oracle of Negativity powered by Rascal, I said, “Oh, God, I hope not.”

There followed a long, pregnant pause…after which she said slowly, like something had just occurred to her (which it obviously had), “Oh….you don’t like him.” And then, “Why don’t you like him?”

I was like, “Why? Do you like him?”

“Yes, of course!”

this is air

She answered me impatiently, as if I had just asked, “Are we breathing air?”

Looking back, I realize I should have stayed there, probing,  performing an impromptu autopsy of her psyche, but I was in a hurry and wasn’t in the mood to explain that I would dislike anyone  who ran for president because they were jealous of Gwen Stefani’s salary on “The Voice”.

better gwen

Strange how so many of my encounters occur at the grocery store, and usually always with women.

Do I keep forgetting items and have to shop constantly, and do women always outnumber men three to one at Ralphs and Pavilions? If so, that would just confirm that 1., Mrs. Bacchus was right on target recognizing me as a bad wife and 2., the woman whose marriage consisted of furniture polish and unwanted sex was also correct in that women’s work is never done.

better lazyPop Art Tired Housewife Washing Dishes at the Kitchen. Vector illustration

I was walking through the Ralph’s parking lot a week ago and a woman passing me by said, “Are you happy?”

Immediately I was like, oh, my God, here we go. I smiled and said, “No.”

She pointed at my shirt and said, “It says ‘Happy.’”

I had, indeed, forgotten that I’d thrown on my black T-shirt that had the word “Happy” written across it in white letters.

“You’re not happy?” She seemed fairly confrontational. “Your shirt says ‘Happy,’” she reminded me again.

“I guess I’m trying to convince myself,” I said.

happy

And that was true. I remember seeing the shirt in the store and thinking, “Ha. Hilarious.” Maybe through osmosis happiness would melt through the material and leak into my skin. Maybe its aura would douse my personality in a bath of beauty and joy.

Woman underwater-floating

That Happy shirt is kinda old now, though, and I don’t think that way anymore. I feel like happiness is overrated. It’s too fleeting, like trying to catch the wind. Being satisfied is better. Satisfaction is achievable, and durable, like a sturdy pair of comfortable jeans. I’m sure this is old news to a lot of people.

My lady encounters all have one thing in common, though (besides being weird): the search for happiness and the reasons why it’s so hard, in a moment, in a lifetime, in part of a lifetime, in an afternoon, to attain it. And even harder to keep it.

With satisfaction, everything might be different. It could act as an ethereal ballast for serotonin rushes and mercurial emotions.

People might bounce back faster from health scares and the world might not seem any crazier than usual and insulting someone’s wife probably wouldn’t be their first go-to and they might not care as much if they were a whore for their partner, and they’d just laugh and flip off the parrot every time it refused to acknowledge their existence.

evilparrot

So…a satisfying Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate it.

Pleasant, peaceful, satisfying holidays to you.

And most definitely have a potentially promising, hopeful, encouraging, favorable, enlightening, optimistic, revitalizing and satisfying 2021.

swimmer sunset

25 thoughts on “How To Avoid Happiness

  1. I’ve fallen into a couple of tricky political conversations by not picking up on the tone. Usually at work, though, and usually with older people who are perfectly willing to follow me around the gym to continue the discussion I’m trying to extract myself from!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh god, yeah, that was what happened with the Rascal lady. But we BOTH assumed things about each other that were incorrect. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who was wrong, lol. It’s also hard to disengage from people who seem like they’re lonely, like your gym folk. I feel like a cad whenever I give them the brush-off, haha….

      Liked by 1 person

    • Park Slope, right before it started getting all yuppified. My husband grew up in what he calls the armpit of Brooklyn–East New York. That’s where we met. (Not in the armpit. In Park Slope, where he was escaping the armpit, lol).
      I always loved that those avenues were named after the alphabet.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Gracias, Widders! Yeah, she’d probably be facing a #MeToo charge today from someone else.
      I was caught off guard, for sure, but it didn’t bother me at all. She was REALLY scared.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved the parrot angles.
    Your post made me think of a moment experienced a month or so ago. Heading out in the car, I had a ‘Proust revelation’, where a beam of sunshine on a stretch of road reminded me of being 23 or 24, took me right back there, in my body. The most wonderful feeling of excited happiness, at being young with a day of impossibly delicious possibility ahead.
    And now, decades on…..yeah, satisfaction does it every time. 😊😊
    And that’s OK.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yeah, it really does, doesn’t it. I’ve been in those moments you speak of, too. “Delicious possibility” is a perfect, beautiful way to express the feeling. Perfect, Kev.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great read as always. Love the way you always live up to your blogs title.
    Hope you keep finding these superb stories to tell. Looks like the strangers of your home town are gonna keep helping you with that.

    One liners I loved.
    “I was a maid, a cook, a slave, and a hooker.”
    She was like a human version of a parrot.
    Are you happy? “I guess I’m trying to convince myself,” I said. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hehehe. Thanks, Mikey. I appreciate it!
    I do tend to have interesting encounters with people. When I was younger, I was a magnet for people who I wouldn’t exactly call crazy, but very questionable mentally. A whole other slew of stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, so much that I could respond to. I’ve always had the impression that Park Slope would be a nice and trendy spot to check out. Yes, it’s ugly to be jealous of how much money Gwen Stefani makes. And she earns it and provides something real and tangible, right? decent entertainment. Happy t-shrits! I love all sorts of t-shirts and often forget that people are responding to whatever clever saying or artwork is on whatever shirt I happen to be wearing. Happiness. Aren’t we supposed to be in the pursuit of such an ideal? Satisfaction. That almost seems a level up from happiness. You could be mindlessly happy or something like that. Content. Now, that seems more a level down from both happy and satisfied. Just content. Have a content new year. Be content. Hey, that would be better than what we’ve gotten from a good portion of this year. But things change. We’ve got Biden-Harris. I’m satisfied and happy about that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Park Slope USED to be nice. It’s unaffordable now, just like everywhere else. Much of Brooklyn, a place people held in contempt at one time, is as expensive as Manhattan now. But if one CAN afford it…yeah, it’s a nice place.
    Content is good too. I agree!
    I do feel content satisfaction about the election. And many other things.

    Like

  8. Haha. I’d be your neighbor right next door on some similarly named avenue, trust me!
    Yes, safe and well, definitely not happy, but glad you sound good. Take care and hang in there !

    Like

  9. I guess people can be unpredictable, and capricious, and come with the weirdest things, but one thing it’s common, most people are ruled by their thoughts, and their minds are like a wild horse, not a trained one, and you happen to catch them at the moment their horse is running wild, and lacks objectivity, and therefore the situation turns awkward, specially when you are in a total different frame of mind.
    And as the saying goes: “Each mind is a different World.”

    Best wishes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Absolutely. Thanks for that observation, B.H.
    And I’m one of the worst offenders; it’s a struggle to find (and maintain) a strong center.

    Like

  11. I know I’m coming to this late, but I’m really glad I got here. One of the best–no, probably THE best–post’s I’ve read.
    Brava!
    (I can’t believe the cashier…I mean, I’m glad she’s alright, but…YIKES…I hope she, at least, let you cruise on a coffee or a muffin or better yet, a 12-pack and some Advil.)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yeah, a free can of coffee would have been really nice. Or at least dinner and a movie, lol
    Thanks, Pam. I appreciate your kind words !

    Like

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