I once saw an episode of Intervention where an alcoholic former beauty queen was heading over to her mother’s house for a family barbeque or some such. Before grabbing the door handle to leave, she stopped and said aloud, “I’m beautiful and happy, I’m beautiful and happy.”
She’d probably been doing it for years. Stopping by the door to put on her happy face and then coming home later to get wasted on Smirnoff and shove down any unpleasant feelings she might have. The sadness of that one moment burned a hole in my brain. How sad, to have to pretend to be okay when you actually drunkenly fell down in your side yard earlier.
The other day, I realized that I’d become her.
No, I didn’t get wasted on Smirnoff. I didn’t fall down in the side yard. I didn’t lose custody of my kids. I got tipsy on wine, bumped into the treadmill, and my cat gave me a very disapproving look. Half credit?
For the last few months, I’ve done a lot more “happy party face” than I’d like to admit. It started innocently enough, the gateway drug being “show up at goth night and don’t let anyone know he hurt you.” Show up and act like nothing’s wrong. Like “I’m Jackie Fucking Kennedy and you can’t hurt me.” Show up, because if you don’t, people think you’re hiding in your house, being all hurt and squishy and writing terrible poetry. No, no. If we’re drawing battle lines, you will not make me shy away from doing what I want to do. I will show up, look cute and dance my ass off.
Then, it snowballs.
If happy party face has to exist in the real world, where people are vicious dogs, what do you do on the internet? If people will take you down in flesh, they’ll really take you down in text. The internet was practically invented so people could flame each other from the safe distance of hundreds of miles.
“Usually, when something bothers me, I write about it…but I can’t do that now.”
“Because of rule #1, Jen. You don’t put your drama on Facebook. It is not done.”
I mean, nobody wants to read weeks’ worth of muddled, passive-aggressive bullshit that only means something to its owner. No one wants to read status updates of you cryptically whining about your now ex-best friend. It makes you look like a drama llama. We all know at least one of those. We all secretly wish they’d just go away.
What, then? Are you not allowed to have a rough week without people thinking you’re a drama queen? Are we all doomed to be expected to never have problems? Has the entire internet become one giant party where everybody has to pretend that everything is awesome all the time? Are we all doomed to spend our entire digital lives at some kind of hellish work mixer where there’s karaoke, a cash bar and your boss dancing like Elaine from Seinfeld?
“How are you?”
Sorry, no. If that’s what we’re all supposed to be doing, somebody just come over and shoot me right now. I am not living there. I’m not going to show up at your wedding and cry because my roof has been given one year to live and I really, seriously need a vacation. It’s your day and I can pretend my life is awesome for two hours. But, by God, I get to sort out my bullshit in my own blog. If you don’t want to hear the drama llama go “mehhhh!” in your face for a few paragraphs, you know where the back button is.
See, the thing I forgot when I was talking to Jen is that Happy Party Face is not what I DO in this blog. It never has been. I show up, tell you the fucking truth, and most of you can handle it. Some of you are just dying for someone to finally tell the truth because everybody else is so busy pretending their lives kick ass all the time. That’s my purpose and that’s what I do.
I may have to occasionally be Happy Party Face in real life. We all have to do that. But this is my outlet and I’ll do as I please. As we say on the internet, “kthxbai.”