I have spent this morning giggling.
I didn’t really mean to but the man sitting at the table next to me was laughing. And laughing is contagious and so first I smiled, then I giggled a little, and then I started laughing too.
I know this man.
He never laughs. He glares.
We have a vague social connection, ex-husbands and ex-wives, and have had the odd Sunday lunch together. He’s always been a grouch.
I couldn’t resist. I went over to his table and said:-
In twenty years I have never known you to laugh.
You know what, Violet, he said. I’m happy. I am actually finally exceptionally happy.
We both stopped laughing at that moment.
It’s taken him like a lifetime to be happy.
What’s your secret, I asked?
I had to change or I would have died, he replied. I needed everything to be just fine.
He explained how he had always been that negative person. The food was never good enough, the company sucked, wine could’ve been better, the country was fucked, he found the bad in everything. He was depressed and miserable and one day he realised he didn’t want to be that person anymore.
I suspect he also went for therapy and may well be taking drugs, but good for him if he is.
What about you, he asked? You always seem happy.
I laugh a lot, I said.
I think I do what he never used to do. I take joy in food, friendships, coffee and the weather except when it is really bloody cold. I love the smell of freshly baked bread, wearing a new frock, the wind in my hair, the moon, the everything.
I hardly ever glare. But I also use laughter as a cover up.
When someone asks me how I am, like he did, I should not say ‘everything is just fine.’
I should say:
I get scared, I worry about money, my dog is old, the man I was dating turned out to be a cunt, I’m struggling to trust men, I think I’ve put on a kilo, my nail broke, what’s going to happen with this country, the shower door needs fixing, I hate grocery shopping, I’m finding it really hard to…
Maybe not all at once!
We need to find a balance. Between the glares and the giggles.
To find a way of everything really being just fine.
Because the opposite is too scary to contemplate.