We will do almost anything to be happy. Think about it. We will even be miserable.
We will take jobs we hate that make us more money because presumably money can buy us happiness. I know they say it can’t, but no one believes that.
And we will starve ourselves on miserable diets or run five miles in the Mobile heat or inject food poisoning into our foreheads hoping we will look just a little better and/or younger.
Because if we look good, we will be happier, right? The answer is yes.
And we are constantly trying to project this image of happiness, healthiness and success. Look no further than Instagram to confirm our need for the carefully curated images of our wonderful lives.
This constant pursuit of perfection (or the appearance of such) holds true almost 100 percent of the time. But there are a couple of circumstances where it doesn’t. When we want something kind of bad to happen. Not terrible, mind you. Just a touch of badness.
The first is illness.
I am not talking about terminal illness or any diagnosis that changes your life forever. You know you are going to live, but you just have a bad cold and feel like total poo — that kind of illness.
For some reason when we contract such an illness, we feel as though we need to speak as if we are actually dying. (And some people are way more dramatic with this than others). But you know the voice I am talking about. The one you use to call in sick to work. It’s quiet and very breathy and may involve a cough or two and some light moaning and sighing and a few nonsense words, followed by an apology for not making any sense because you are so ill. It is as if you are one sip of water away from dying.
And it’s such total BS. Giggle. We can all talk just fine, but somehow our brains make us believe a sinus infection has rendered us completely incapable of putting multisyllabic words together.
And then we slowly drag ourselves to the doc-in-the-box. Probably put on wrinkly clothes and walk in really slowly because we are just so infirmed we can’t really function normally. And though we couldn’t sit upright at home we are able to in the waiting room, where we are also asked to do such strenuous things as present our insurance cards and fill out our medical history. Lady, can’t you see I can barely speak or dress myself. Do you really think I know if I have a family history of glaucoma?
But then they finally call us back to the “room,” and this is where the weirdness happens.
The nurse comes in to take your vitals and your temperature and you know, you are secretly hoping it is anywhere above 99 but something like 101 or 102 would be better. Because if not, your “sick voice” and completely disheveled appearance will suddenly make you look pretty ridiculous, even though in your mind you do truly believe you are very ill. Then the doctor comes in and says “No fever and your strep and flu tests came back negative. Probably just a sinus or upper respiratory infection.”
Noooooooo! But doctor, you don’t understand. I barely had enough strength to call in sick to work this morning. I would have never have worn this 20-year-old T-shirt with multiple holes in it or this ball cap covering my greasy, unwashed hair unless I was certain I was going to test positive for something that is mildly worse than a sinus infection. You simply must run these tests again! I can’t be expected to start talking normal again by the end of the day.
Any parent knows kids do this too. “I feel so, so bad, Mom,” they will mumble in their own sick voice. And then you stick the thermometer under their tongue. It beeps at 98.1 and you are like, “No fever, you are fine. Get dressed for school.” And then their voice immediately changes and complaining about what’s available for breakfast ensues.
I used to think this bizarre behavior was reserved for minor illness, but I have come to realize for those of us living along the Gulf Coast, we do this same thing with hurricanes.
I went to the grocery store on Saturday, and you would have thought Ida was on the same path as Hurricane Frederic. The lines were insane and people were buying up water, bread and batteries as if we were going to be without power for weeks. And yes, I know our friends in New Orleans are going to be exactly that, and these storms can shift suddenly. But still, for a storm that was consistently projected to come in west of New Orleans by all of the models — even the ones that are usually contrary — it was a little ridiculous. And the gas stations were the same way! I’m beginning to think NOAA is being paid off by the grocery and oil lobbies.
But I am not going to lie. I also bought some candles, stuff to make soup, hot dogs and vodka (my hurricane preparedness kit).
And while I was chatting with people on the landfall days, I began to realize some, if not most, were a little disappointed we didn’t get more from Ida.
Obviously, no one wants a direct hit or any loss of life. But as one friend said, “I was hoping for just a little more wind. I feel guilty eating all of my hurricane snacks now.”
I felt the same way about all the cookies I ate only because it was a “natural disaster.” I was also kind of hoping the power would go out too — just for a couple of hours — so I could justify the candle purchases. And I wanted to know what “cashmere woods” smelled like. I couldn’t possibly light them without a power outage. That would be crazy.
Yes, this is truly insane.
Why do we (kind of) want slight fevers and minor tropical disturbances? It’s weird. But it has to be the same form of mental illness, right? And there are a bunch of us around here suffering from it.
Thankfully, we are not alone though.
Clearly the TV weather people suffer from this same sickness. Though in fairness, I get it. No one wants to watch a live shot of a minor rainstorm, and they have a job to do.
But you have to love the reporters out in the elements who act like they can barely stand — the wind is about to literally blow them away. And then, of course, someone casually walks behind them with a drink in their hand, their umbrella straw still in place. Giggle. When are they going to learn on this one? (I hope never because it’s wonderful every single time.)
I also felt like one Weather Channel correspondent was almost apologizing for not having more wind and rain in her live shot. “It doesn’t look bad here now, but it will. It’s just a matter of time!”
Are you hoping for that, Steph? Yes, you are.
It’s OK. I am kind of hoping to make instant coffee on a camping stove that will definitely taste terrible in the morning too.
But don’t tell anyone. They would think I was crazy.
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