Friday, August 28, 2009

experimenting: perma-BAAA! & perma-boohoo

warning: rambles ahead. though really, what else is new?

I have this friend...let's call her Schmerin, to keep her identity safe. Long ago, people were often shocked to discover that Schmerin and I were friends, and they would say things like "You're FRIENDS with her? She HATES me!" But I knew she didn't hate them. This exchange occurred repeatedly. You know how most people default to reasonably friendly? As in, unless you have a reason to DISLIKE someone, you generally like them? Well, I realized that Schmerin defaulted to dislike, meaning unless she had a reason to like you, she seemed to dislike you. So the world (and by world I mean school) was full of people who thought Schmerin hated them when really she just had yet to interact with them enough to have a reason to like them. (Fret not; she later figured this out and adjusted her default position to something less socially awkward.)

Similarly, most of us have a neutral face or vibe that we send off when we aren't high on life or in the depths of despair. It's not awful, it's not thrilled, it's just NORMAL. Yesterday I met someone whose default position is high on life. Like, unless she has a reason to be down, she has an enormous frozen smile on at all times and shouts and claps her hands. She says her name happily, she says goodbye happily, she says "GREAT MEETING YOU!" the same way she would say "I WON THE LOTTERY!" or "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'RE GETTING MARRIED!" or "IT'S SO GREAT THERE'S PEACE ON EARTH."

I'm a happy person and many who know me may find ME overwhelming, so if I, the bombarder, am bombarded, that's really pretty impressive.

Sometimes I have this intuitive need to balance things out, i.e., if someone is a total bummer with permafrown and sigh, I end up louder/more animated/Tigger-esque in an effort to balance out their misery and get the room to a workable equilibrium. Similarly, if someone is smiling their brains out or bouncy or laughy or just generally sending off the stole-my-kids-ADD-meds-again vibe, I'll become the bummer just to even things out. So if you tone it down too many notches, I'll tone it up as many notches as necessary to bring the average in the room to a 5. Does anyeone else do that?

Anyway, this leads me to wonder what people who are THAT HAPPY all the time do when they ARE faced with a reason to be abnormally happy. You know? If you're using your "THEY CURED CANCER!" voice to say things like "CHICKEN IS ON SALE!", what do you use when they do, in fact, cure cancer? If you introduce yourself "HI! I'M AIMEE!!!" with the same voice you use for "YES! I WILL MARRY YOU AND THOUGHT YOU'D NEVER ASK!", how do you portray actual excitement as opposed to default excitement?

The opposite is also true, isn't it? If you are a total downer all the time (and we all know someone like this), monosyllabic in your responses with your eyelids at half-mast, what happens when something bad REALLY happens? You have nowhere to go from there, do you?

Anyway. All this is my way of saying that there is a part of me that just wants to poke bears with sticks, so to speak. Yesterday's frozen smile woman (I know this will shock you but she was teaching an aerobics class, further proving my suspicion than most aerobics teachers consume startling amounts of uppers) made me want to tell her something incredibly tragic just to see what she'd do. Is that bad?


ebv said...

Tell her that they proved aerobic exercise releases toxins from the muscles that have been proven to cause cancer.

Guarantee she will not be happy about that.

Or that your Mother just passed away in a freak cannibalistic accident.

Either way, I guess my vote is "DO IT!"

Erin said...

that friend sounds totally awesome.

i bet that schmerin no longer defaults to, "i don't like you until you prove it." i think that she defaults to, "you are a sex offender or at the very least a porn addict until you prove otherwise."

Dorothy said...

This post totally makes me think of my 11 year old cousin, Elle. She asked her mom if she could go on a walk to the temple. Her mom said it was too late but they could go on a walk down the street, and Elle was like, "OOOOOKKKKKAAAAYYYY!" with a huge smile and started jumping up and down. I really wish I could be that excited about everything. Or at least more htings.

Joel said...

Don't know if it is bad or wrong but it totally sounds like me. So I say poke away.

The Boob Nazi said...

I tend to believe the best about people until they prove me wrong.
Such as, if they're wearing high-waisted pants, they've proven me wrong before I even meet them.

Mrs. Clark said...

Whoa. I have no wise commentary for you.

Kiersten White said...

I love Schmerin. So, so much.

Anna said...

You kill me.
ps- there was a site missionary dinner tonight and you know you were missed AND you know that you missed the noodle salads, hugs and talk of the cart being driven in the grove....hahaha

b. said...

me neither...except to say this post made my sabbath morning.

Allison said...

Loved the entire post. I'm normally about a 7, but I married a 3.5, so I feel dragged down to a 5 most of the time. I guess it's not so bad. A Diet Coke and alone time usually fixes a case of the doldrums.