Sunday, December 13, 2009

Be happy

"You don't sound happy. You should be happy!"

This is a direct quote from my mother.

Apparently, I'm supposed to always sound happy, and if I don't, that means I'm not happy. I'm not quite sure how this computes, but in her mind, it does. So I get a lecture about being happy. And then she passes the phone to my father, who asks why I'm unhappy and what's wrong, and tells me that I should be happy.

There are so many problems with all this logic that I'm not even sure where to start. Sounding happy does not, repeat not, equal being happy. Trust me on this: I've put on the perky voice during times when I was so far from happy as to be practically comatose. I've sounded happy talking to people I'd like to set on fire.

What my parents are telling me, basically, is that I should fake it. That I should sound happy, because it makes them feel better-- regardless of how I'm feeling during the conversation. And, you know, if that's what they want? Come out and say it.

For the record, I'm in a fine mood today. I've gotten some stuff done, have puttered around the house, and am about to go to the gym. It's a nice day, if a bit gloomy. We were having a good conversation, but apparently, I wasn't up to the happy standard of their day.

(Tangentially, somewhere out there, there's a really good essay by someone (Kate Harding? Amanda Marcotte? Can't find it now) about how annoying it is, as a woman, to be told by complete strangers (generally men) to smile. That's about the level of annoyance I feel when one of my own parents tells me to sound happy.)

I'm continually amazed that I've reached this ripe old age of 40-something, and my parents still don't have the faintest idea who I am. I told a good friend once that my parents think my being politically liberal is a "phase." Her response was "Do they know you?"

(Frequent Citations is wise. And absolutely accurate.)

Anyway. I'm actually in a fine mood, despite how I may sound. Hope you all are, too.

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