Have you ever wondered why everyone is so happy all of a sudden?
Nothing’s changed. I mean, not really. A new politican has been elected, a different team won the grand final, The Late Show with Miguel Espantopajaro got replaced with Late Drinks with Chi Chi, but nothing has really changed. There are still people out of work. There are still criminals stealing and beating and killing. There are still abuses behind closed doors; still people dying unnoticed.
And yet, everyone is suddenly going around smiling, waving to each other across the street, touching their hat with a how-do-you-do, offering a kind word or a hand of support. People are suddenly happy.
Maybe they’re putting something in the water.
I’m happy too, of course, but there’s a good reason for that. Rachel Gambosi, the sweetest person I’ve ever met, and my new going-steady. I mean, it’s new that we’re going steady, not that she’s replacing somebody. My last girlfriend was 20 years ago.
“The Bitch”, I call her, although I suppose I shouldn’t. She showed me the calamitous evil that could be wrought by women, and I never really recovered from having my illusions of angelic nurturers shattered so comprehensively. Twenty years of misery and dejection, carnival-mirrored in and swamped by the despair and suspicion of society.
Like this guy, giving me a dirty look and shifting to the side, looking like he’s ready to fight or flee. At lease someone isn’t drinking the happy juice being pumped through the council tap. I turn my back to him, a passing woman turns her back to me, and I wonder if happiness happens by area code, if I’ve walked out of Happyburg into Despairville.
I keep walking, shoulders hunched against the viciousness and opprobrium of this vile place.
Mind you, even Despairville would be full of joy and light if Rachel came visiting, even just a jaunty walk to the greengrocers for some in-season dragonfruit. She just has that effect on people. Whenever I’m with her my despair shatters, and it’s like I’m sunbathing in beauty and tenderness. It’s like she sweats MDMA.
“And a good day to you too, ma’am.”
The response to the old lady’s greeting comes automatically, a boy’s response to his venerable grandmother. The young woman with her smiles sweetly then looks away, blushing. I’m not sure why.
I’m passing a greengrocer’s and have a sudden inexplicable hankering for dragonfruit, so I pop inside, have an amiable conversation with the counter-guy and man-in-tweed-coat about the value of purple onions compared to white ones, toss a few coins and pop out again.
Nothing has changed, but suddenly everyone is happy again. Maybe it’s got something to do with property values.
By: James Pearce
Photo by Donna Cymeck