Sunday, 9 September 2007

"Irrational bad moods" published Sept 9

There just aren’t enough bad moods in the world any longer. It used to be that you could wake up hating the world and people would leave you be. They’d describe you as being a bit “under the weather” or having “got up on the wrong side of the bed.” They would work around you, leaving you to sort out whatever demons were fighting it out in your head, bring you cups of tea and wait patiently for the storm clouds to clear. Before the age of “feel good” radio, television and magazines it was okay to be a bit down. No one ever put their hands on their hips and said: “cheer up!” or “don’t you think it’s time you had closure?”
Today, when you start the day glaring at your nine-year-old daughter who hops into bed, grabs the newspaper and reads out the weather in Rome (23 degrees), Paris (23 degrees) and Mecca (43 degrees!!!), you are forced to feel guilty about your irrational bad mood. How could you possibly be irritated by your darling daughter reading to you as she does every morning? Perhaps it has something to do with her kicking you, dropping her toast crumbs, elbowing you into the corner and spilling your cup of tea. That exact sequence of events happens every morning and you don’t mind. Too bad. I just want to be grumpy for once.
The modern day requirement to be consistently cheerful is one I’m able to fill most of the time. I’m generally quite an upbeat, wine glass three quarters full type of person who likes to see the good in everyone and everything. Which makes it all the more special when a bad mood does strike. It’s new, it’s exciting and absorbing, like a wild affair with a very bad boy without the sex. But deep down you know it’s not right, so you have to find the reason for it, deal with it, and attempt to please everyone by getting happy again.
For women our first thought is PMT. And 90 percent of the time that’s the culprit especially if you’ve been dropping things and crying. If not, then something has happened that has annoyed you like realising all the Auckland mayoral candidates are ridiculous or someone at the newspaper you work for ran the same column you wrote two weeks in a row. Perhaps it’s the weather? Those relentlessly grey, wet days just will not end at this time of the year. And if it’s none of those things then one must come to the realisation that you are just being a self indulgent cantankerous old bag. And you have no choice but to embrace, indulge and enjoy.
As the day progresses you dismiss your adult children’s conversations with curt phrases such as “get over yourself,” “whatever” and “are you home for dinner?” You remind your husband that a) he already kissed you goodbye and no he can’t have another b) no you don’t want a foot massage and c) life does not revolve around what’s for dinner.
Then some old person rings up to talk to your husband about something and you yell at them because they got confused and had the audacity to say in a rather loud voice, as old people do: “Who are you? I don’t want you. You’re not the person I rang to talk to!” Later you hope like hell they didn’t hear the words “rude” and “prick” which accompanied the phone as it was thrown across the room.
Then you turn down a job just because you can. Not because you didn’t have the time, the ability or the inclination. You just felt like it. So there. Later your friend reminds you that you’ll never pay off the mortgage with that attitude. You hope like hell she’s forgiven you for using the words “rude” and “prick” in the same sentence.
And then it’s over. Just like that. Nothing a quick lunch and a few glasses of wine at SPQR can’t fix. Miraculously you rejoin the land of the contented as you find yourself complimenting your daughter’s outfit, laughing at your other daughter’s joke, singing to yourself as you cook dinner and giving your husband a kiss just because you felt like it.
And you realise that irrationally bad moods are possibly sent to us for a reason.

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