Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Glum

_____Portrait of the Artist as a Sullen Dweeb_____

Our bodies know it, if we don't. For any given life, we only have so many real smiles for the camera. After that, the smiles crack; that's where the empty gets in. Better, then, to ration ourselves. Pace ourselves. Be resourceful. Throw some plastic smiles in there. Filler smiles. Spread the good ones out a little.

When we're young, the supply of joy looks endless. We gawk at the rows of shimmering 2-liters, brimming up and vacuum-sealed.

And so we live as if there's not any ration; as if the happy will never run out. The first time we shake a rattle or pass gas, we wide-eyed babies blow a bottle at a time. And why not? It bubbles up like oil. Spurts like a broken pipe.

But God help a smiley baby. I look at them with such agitation. I feel like the Jabberwocky for even wanting just one less smile, just a little more colic. But is it a crime to wish we could still be happy in old age? What if the smile-fields run out by 2030? What will we say to our grandchildren then? Are we humans actually defined by our inability to ration joy?

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