Dana Stanley

Forgetting Lollipops

ďA great big hug for your sweet tooth.Ē As he sits and drinks his coffee he wonders why
thatís an appropriate slogan for the cup-jacket. Even though a hug would
be nice, it doesnít change the fact that coffee isnít sweet. Heís
sitting on a bench between the Art Museum of Philadelphia and some man
with more IOU's then Mary Poppins' favorite nonsense word.  Itís after
his normal working hours of nine to five and his wife thinks that heís
just working late. Reality being that he considers ďover timeĒ as alone
time. Knowing that the only thing waiting for him at home is a strange
relationship of regretted love, this is his time to think and his time
to run - even though he knows that there is absolutely nowhere to go.
He has been with his wife for over ten years and married for six
months. Yet, the second they were married a switch went off (on?). She
resented him for changing careers, for not giving her a big wedding,
and for slurping his soup at dinner. 
        That should give you a pretty good idea of the crap I used to write. From
junior year of high school up until this very moment I desperately
wanted to write fiction about as many characters as I could. If you
read my journal (which I donít know why you would), you would see
ďWoman #1Ē, ďMan #2Ē, and so on. Following the title would be a short
description of what I thought their lives were like. Yes, I know;
everyone people watches. But usually the person watching tries to give
the Joe Shmo eating at the mall food court or the Plain Jane waiting in
line at the post office the best life possible. Most people would
overlook their stained work shirt or abnormally large nostrils. People
donít realize how optimistic their first impressions really are. I, on
the other hand, would give Joe and Jane deeply rooted issues as quick
as I could touch pen to paper. 
        Bald? He has low self-esteem and kisses hookers more often then
his wife. Louis Vuitton? Prada?! Sheís bound to get dumped by her
boyfriend any second. Ah, pessimism: my little excuse for ďnot being
naive and just understanding how terrible this world really is.Ē Then I
woke up one morning only to realize that everyone had gone on vacation
and I was still stuck at the airport. I had my caramel macchiato in
hand, yes; but that didnít change the fact that I was alone. Everyone
was sporting their new bathing suit in Bali while I was losing my
passport in the bathroom and feeling, wellÖbitter. Unlike my
splenda-infested coffee. Everyone knows that itís easier to be nasty
then nice. Everyone knows that itís easier to flip people off then to
smile. It just took me about twenty years to finally understand it. If
that last statement makes you think Iím forty years old, Iím sorry. 
         Perhaps the battle between optimists and pessimists begins at a young age. Not
ten, not five. Even before. Why do you think some babies cry so much?
They are the ones that have a feeling Ė in their little widdle guts Ė
that something is just wrong, and it will always be wrong. Its not
colic; itís recognition! Then there are the other handful of babies
that are freakishly well behaved. Upon hearing compliments of their
childís behavior, the parents say through their ear-to-ear grin, ďOh, I
just donít know why heís so good. Itís a miracle for us. Really, it
is.Ē Warning to parents: your child is showing the early signs of
optimism. This could be a sign of nativity, denial, and a 91% chance of
ending up a dental hygienist. Hell really breaks lose when the little
runts enter into the school system. Itís very subtle, though. An
excellent test is to tell a little girl that she looks like a princess.
If she runs away embarrassed, itís a healthy beginning to years of
accepted compliments. In the future, she may just agree with you that
the world isnít so bad. Yes, Iím pretty, but you donít need to point it
out to me. Life is good, sure, but you don't have to keep
"Margaritaville" on loop. If she screams, ďDonít call me a princess! Iím not, Iím not!Ē then thatís not a great sign. She and the first little girl will most likely hate each other in ten to fifteen years.
If the little girl vocally agrees with you that yes, she is prettyÖjust
slap her in the face. 
        I guess someone could say that it's unhealthy to be so cynical.
At least that's what everyones always told me. By living your life as
a defeatist, are you setting yourself up to be inevitably debacled? We
can never be sure. I would love for someone - anyone - to be able to
tell me how you can breathe while thinking that the whole universe is
full of butterflies and puppies. Frankly, I've always thought that I
would rather be Mrs. Scrooge and miserable, than some twit that thinks:
"Maybe Bambi's mom didn't die. Maybe she just was scared of being a young mom and decided to run away
in order to give her son a better future." It seems like all the
successful ones are the few that have a certain empty confidence.
Similar to "liquid confidence", just completely unrelated to alcohol.
Yet similarly, they are just...well, fluff. Not really having any basis
for their unabashed personality, they effortlessly rise to the top. One
day they're on the Honor Roll, the next their accepting awards that
they don't really know the purpose of. Some may think it's because they
are smart enough to triumph. I say it's because they're dumb enough not
to fail. Don Marquis (don't worry, I know nothing about him either
except for the fact that he's dead) once said, "A pessimist is a person
who has had to listen to too many optimists." And I couldn't agree with
him more. I wish I could avoid sounding like a jerk, but frankly, they
annoy me.  
        Dear pessimists, 
        We must prevail! There is a thing called karma, you see, and it
has been hiding under your bed right next to the invisible monsters.
Acting as your secret weapon that you've known nothing about, it will
eventually show you that these unsuspecting optimists eventually wake
up and smell the coffee. I confess this could be sugarcoating their
inevitable situation. Because instead of coming in the form of coffee
it will most likely be in the loss of a loved one, a failure in a
contest, or divorce papers. Disclaimer: this is only a hunch. No one's
feelings were hurt in the making of this essay. If karma exists, then
there is the ying and yang to consider, along with the law of physics:
any action has an equal and opposite reaction. And everyone knows you
can't argue with physics unless you're the creator of "The Matrix". We
(yes, you too) will eventually come to the strange realization that
life, well; isn't so bad. 
        Its depressing, I know. 
        To recognize that innumerable people can forget the little
things so quickly is despairing. Don't get in a huff - I'm including
myself in the "many". We've forgotten about the lollipops. We've
forgotten how to appreciate the diners, photography, and letters of old
friends before e-mail took over the world. David Bowie and the Pink
Panther (the old ones). Black tea and the piano. Realizing something
that we've known all along. The voices of a choir and the play "Cats".
Attempting to be independent and then failing...miserably. White
curtains, The Great Gatsby, and antique maps. All of us have
over-looked the chandeliers, gingerbread, and charcoal drawings.
Forgotten our infatuation with make-up and hairspray, or our sheer hate
for make-up and hairspray. Competing with ourselves while others think
we're threatened. The smell of money, strawberry ice cream, and that
feeling you get when you get a new stamp in your passport. Or for some,
dreaming about getting a first stamp in your passport. Our memories of
being little and everything being simple have been obliterated.
        Well, I want that back. I want the red juice boxes, gel pens,
and Lincoln Logs. Is the glass half empty, or is it half full? Maybe it
depends on what we keep in our glass. 


All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Dana Stanley.
Published on e-Stories.org on 02/03/2009.


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