Who, I?

I, too, have been accused of merriness. Not in those words exactly, as merry has been shoe-horned into such a small Xmas box of language that no one uses it but in relationship to the holidays and also to go-rounds. Otherwise – we tend to go with happy. I’ve heard many varieties of “You’re happy. You look happy. What a happy person.” Which is funny. Because I don’t usually feel that way. I may LOOK happy, indeed.

What I am, often, is friendly. And I hate to be called on that, too. Like when the folks with clipboards and causes call out to me on the street – usually it’s “Do you have a minute for gay rights or animals or children or the environment?” but at least once, someone called out, “You look friendly – come talk to me.”

I hated that. I wrote a whole thing about it – maybe even in this context, I can’t remember. But somehow it shook me. If there’s anyone I didn’t want to appear friendly to, it’s the folks on the street with clipboards. I want to look busy and unapproachable in that scenario. But. . .the friendliness snuck out, I thought. I felt called out – revealed. And I suddenly understood how that friendly person has so often gotten me into trouble. This was exactly what I was hoping to avoid with my friendly self – Trouble. And yet it got me there with some regularity.

I’m less friendly now, less merry, too. But the friendliness and merriness that remains is of a more honest sort. The sort I actually feel, instead of a mask to deter assailants.

And then today, the day I typed this, seven months later. One of those clipboard people called out, “You look friendly.” TODAY. AGAIN. I hate it.

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