I Am Not Your Wonder Puppy

il_fullxfull.275458010World, you seem to be laboring under a misconception. You believe that, because I am a young woman, it is my duty to be winsome. Because I have an easy laugh and giant blue eyes, I am to be cheerful always. There is a problem here, however: I am not a robot. I am a person, who—as a consequence of her personhood—has feelings on the darker side of the spectrum.

Take, for example, when I am driving in the Whole Foods parking lot. It’s after work, everyone is in a hurry, and we all want to pick up our gluten free fudge frogs and get the hell out. So, when it’s my turn at the stop sign and you, frizzy-haired woman in an SUV, just go without stopping, I’m going to get a little upset. I may even frantically gesticulate at you, so you know You Have Wronged Me. I will not pull a gun on you. I will not even flick you off or call you a twitface. BUT I WILL RANT, IF I WANT TO. It is not your place, oh breaker of sacred driving covenants, to flash a peace sign at me and smile pedantically. It is your place to wave apologetically or ignore me.

I am allowed to be angry, when you endanger the safety of both me and my shiny new Volvo. Flashing the peace sign does not teach me to control my emotions, but only further enrages them. You do not get to devalue my feelings, just because they make you uncomfortable. I do not have an anger issue, I have an issue with people not paying attention to the rules of the road! You, my dear dumplingkins, are the one who screwed up. In the real world, I get to feel real emotions about that and display them within reason. If you find that other drivers yell at you so much that you’ve developed a condescending reaction to it, perhaps you should consider the pattern more carefully.

Similarly, TSA officer/construction worker/men in the next car, it’s not your job to tell me to smile. I will smile, if I’m happy. I will smile, if I think something is funny. I will not smile, simply because you demand it of me. It is not my job, as a young woman, to go about looking sunny and agreeable for you. Sometimes, I’m having a bad day. Sometimes, I’m deep in thought about whether or not Justin Timberlake chemically straightens his hair. It does not make me feel happier, when you insist I smile. It only makes me want to beat you silly with my copy of The Feminine Mystique.

People don’t go around smiling all the time, unless there is something clinically wrong with them. Our facial muscles would be exhausted! If you want to see a woman constantly smile, look at a photograph. Out in the real world, women show emotion based on how they feel. We do not exist for your viewing pleasure.

So, World, please back off. You don’t get to tell me how to feel. I, like you, react to the stimuli around me. Sometimes, that reaction will be a cheerful wave, but sometimes it will be furrowed brows and a wagging finger. This is how people work. Even pretty, blonde female people. If you want something that is always happy to see you, buy a puppy. They’re adorable and compliant!

I am not.

– Grace


38 thoughts on “I Am Not Your Wonder Puppy

  1. I dislike Michael Buble for this exact reason. He seems all silly and smiley and wholesome, like a constantly cheerful puppy. I want to scream at him, “JUST SWEAR, GOD DAMN YOU!”

    • Yes! His voice may be good, but he seems spectacularly uninteresting as a person. I like my people with some rough edges…like, you know, real people.

  2. I’ve always hated that, too! I currently find it the most repulsive when some of my teenage students walk around telling each other (and me!) to smile. No! I think they feel like they are being “mature” for handing out these “smile” encouragements. Mostly they are being annoying.

  3. I feel the same way exactly. Always want to punch someone in the face when they tell me to smile. I smile a lot. I love to smile. But only when I feel like it.
    Amen, sister!

  4. PREACH. I couldn’t agree more — sometimes I’m just tired/overwhelmed/homesick/inexplicably cranky, and I feel like I shouldn’t have to be faux-perky so I can placate random strangers. (Granted, I do it anyways, and then I just become crankier.) Also, the Whole Foods parking lot — anywhere in the U.S., at least — is almost certainly the seventh ring of hell. I’m sure of it.

    • Lillian, all to often, I indulge the annoying strangers as well. Inevitably, someone will tell me to smile and I’ll actually smile. Then, naturally, I curse both them and myself under my breath for the next five minutes.

      Also, yes. Yes, it is. Even in Austin, where it was born and bred, Whole Foods parking lots are horrible. We have this big fancy store downtown, but it’s surrounded by one way streets and there is only one way into the parking lot. Ergo, it takes twice as long to get to and park, than it does to get your fudge frogs. *grumble*

  5. Some older men here in Britain have the annoying habit of coming up to women on the street and say “cheer up love, it may never happen”. I always have to stop myself from bludgeoning them to death with the nearest object. Stupid, patronizing arseholes, Grrrr. Rant over. 🙂

    • Oh, my God. You know, I’ve seen that on television, but never thought it was an actual a thing. I would CUT A HOMIE. That is the most condescending, awful linguistic trend ever.

  6. “Cheer up, love, it might never happen.”

    Most annoying thing to hear ever. Firstly, why the hell should I?. Secondly I’m not your love. Thirdly, how do you know that my family didn’t all die in a fire/plane crash/freak accident involving a table lamp last week? “It might never happen?” – maybe it already has and that’s why I’m not lighting up the world! [Growls]

    • Seriously. Worst phrase ever! I would explode, if someone said that to me. You’re completely right – horrible things happen all the time. How do these people know that one didn’t just happen to us? Asshats.

      • Omygoodness, yes. I’ve heard this a billion times – cheer up love, it might never happen. In fact, an older gentleman said it to a young woman in the bus the other day. She looked really devastated about something so when he said it, I winced because it seemed like soooo the wrong thing to say. And if looks could kill, he would have brutally murdered right there on that bus.

  7. OMG! My biggest pet peeve is when men, because it is *always* men, tell me to smile. I am not on this earth to make them feel better by walking down the street smiling. The last time one of those obnoxious sidewalk getting signatures for the elder/children/gay persons told me to smile, I whipped around and screamed at him, “That is the RUDEST thing I have heard all day. Do not [obscenity] tell me to smile. What if my grandmother had just died?!”

    Best sidewalk encounter with a signature person ever.

    Usually they try to clothesline me or hug me. To which I come ever so close to yelling assault. (I do not like the aggressiveness of these signature people if you couldn’t tell, I don’t feel like being assaulted for a good cause because the person is taller and wider than I am and thinks that by spreading their arms to trap me I’m going to talk to them and sign their petition out of fear? Yah, no. I’m not afraid of them or the using the legal system to stop people from grabbing at me who shouldn’t be grabbing at me.)

    • Jami, you’re my hero. That is, hands down, the most appropriate and amazing reaction to “Smile!” I’ve ever heard. Next time, I hope I have the presence of mind to follow suit. Also, if a stranger on the street tried to hug me, I would flip my shit. That is completely inappropriate and, yes, bordering on assault. You don’t get to touch people without permission! First rule of the world.

      • Exactly.

        And, after putting out there into the universe the whole smile incident, I can’t even think of a time it has happened since. Of course it’s been winter and cold here, with summer right around the corner….

        The other night some woman was trying to get me to stop and I don’t know, rob me, who knows, and I ignored her so she said, “I hope your baby dies.” To which I replied, (under my breath, because CRAZY person) “Well, I do too. Not really wanting to be preggers right now.” Ah, the joys of an urban environment.

        ….sorry, a leetle off tangent there.

  8. Goodness I recognize myself so much in this. I am, myself, a petite blond with dark blue eyes and people expect me to be both silly and happy. Neither applies! In a way it’s horrible that you experience the same problem, but it’s also nice to not be alone.

    • Nyx, I’m similarly glad to not be alone. There does seem to be something about being a blonde that intimates we’re happy, charming, and dim-witted. I can be happy and I can be charming, but those are not my permanent states. Hair color does not, and has never, accurately defined a person. I do not exist to bring to lightness and joy to others. That is not something I signed up for.

      • Indeed! And then people get surprised. I also constantly get comments about my size. Now my standard response is, when somebody points out I am small, that it doesn’t matter because I have a big personality. And with regards to describing my personality I say I am stubborn, determined and opinionated. The thing is that before I began working I was a happier person, but my personality has become increasingly less… cute… the more people have expected that trait in me.

  9. Firstly, love your blog! Always a great read 🙂

    Secondly, I work in the customer service field (I have for the last 15 years) therefor I am required to be perky, polite, happy and smiling all of the time. Even when the other person is yelling at me, being rude or making my life a living hell. I have found over the years, that the more I smile and act happy in these situations (even while thoughts of murder are racing through my mind), the angrier and more irate the other person will become. This is the only pay back I can issue without risking my job, and keeps me sane until I can blow off some steam later on.

    This being said, if it’s my day off and I’m out braving the Costco parking lot (the equivalent of Whole Foods in eastern Canada) and a stranger tells me to smile or cheer up, I will drop kick them in the head. No lie. I have to be polite to complete strangers at work, I am not required to do the same on my own time. I am a brown eyed brunette (a la Zooey Deschanel) and If I am not in a good mood, or do not feel like smiling, there must be a legit reason. Mind your own bees wax people.

  10. Pingback: I Am Not Your Wonder Puppy | frannyz22

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