Happy is as happy does | HumorOutcasts

Happy is as happy does

March 16, 2015
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happymealTo borrow from the old maxim “pretty is as pretty does,” “happy is as happy does.” It’s something my dear departed mother would have said in a fit of pique and usually when I was acting out of sorts. But there’s a common sense to this slogan that’s hard to refute.

I’m not feeling sorry for myself–mind you–but I lack anything even remotely resembling a fan club. If I count the mail man, my close friends number around three, and although I have enough acquaintances to populate a small country, none would lift a finger to get me a front row Oscar Night seat, even if my life depended on it.

If I may be so bold to ask, who’s the last person in your life to make you happy? Was it the guy who presented you with a first prize blue ribbon for your bodacious schnauzer? Was it the library assistant who advised you to return your overdue items next week during “forgiveness” time? Or was it the svelte model on QVC hawking emerald pendants that you just had to have or die trying? Okay, you’re right. That was me.

But it really doesn’t take that much to make me happy, or so I like to tell my husband. A diamond ring, a trip to Nice, anything along those lines usually works. In fact I’ve been known to smile at just the thought of someone complimenting me on wearing the same socks. Some days I’ll just pull up a lawn chair in front of our brackish green swimming pool and daydream about all the wonderful things that could happen that day. Like a teen with pierced nostrils and a green stripe in her hair could conceivably NOT give me the finger for beating her out on the last parking space in front of Burger King. Or maybe I could get on the CVS drug counter queue and learn that yes, my doctor really did call in the prescription and, yes, the pharmacist really did fill it and yes, I only had to wait two measly days for the insurance to cover it.

It’s the little things like that that make me happy. Even if some of them only take place in my day dreams. Because the more I dream, the more I prepare myself for those serendipitous moments when the planets are in perfect alignment and I get no more than two caller-ID public interest calls in a brilliantly-dry 105 degree Arizona afternoon. Those rare moments can make me break out in a wicked smile. It’s the type of happy event that keeps giving because I get to experience it all over again at dinner. My husband will lean coyly toward the butter dish and, while scarfing a forkful of meatloaf, touch on the subject of PIA (pain in the ass) phone calls. Then I can relive all over again the bountiful joys of reporting that only one unsolicited marketer tried to sell me some swampland today but I was able to deflect that assault by hitting back with the simple catch phrase “Ebola quarantine.”

The other day, though, my mother’s prophecy nearly came true. I was standing on the cashier line again (this time at Office Max) and a middle-aged angel in polyester duds beamed at me and said the magical words “you can go ahead of me.” Well, for a moment I was so amazed at her altruism and self-sacrifice that I couldn’t speak, much less move. So I simply waved my hand, gesturing her to go in front of me. I wasn’t going to be out-niced by this local yokel! But she stood her ground and insisted I heft my purchases onto the counter and be gone. I was cornered, outfoxed and outsmarted. I couldn’t do anything but smile and hope next time I’d be the one to win.

Janice Arenofsky

I write humor, but also serious essays, features and profiles, usually for national venues. I'm a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. I live in Arizona, where it's hot, hot, hot (but very dry of course), and I have eight dogs and a cat. Oh yes, a husband, too.

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