FYI.

This story is over 5 years old.

The Happiness Issue

My America

Happiness is knowing you are never more than twenty miles away from a Hooters.
December 1, 2003, 12:00am

I’m not sure if this fits. As I understand it, this issue deals with optimism or hope, or maybe it’s happiness. I don’t know, some sort of cheerleader bullshit like that. These days I am in increasingly short supply of anything resembling any of the above. I get a visceral reaction when I hear people laughing. I really do. Whether it’s the loud, derisive laugh of the well-oiled frat guys or their close cousins, the investment broker gang, or the kind of mocking laugh that Flava Flav has that makes you feel as lily- white as an angel’s wings, it drives me nuts. Another one that I can’t stand is the I’m-in-on-the-joke laugh that people who fancy themselves posh and educated in all things social and cultural love to let you hear. This is the laugh where you hear the joke, but because everyone around you might not be as erudite as you, you swallow your laugh (but only after you’ve made sure people heard you quietly “get it”). You get to listen to that one a lot at unfunny Woody Allen movies or foreign films where a character makes a reference to “Flaubert” and the asshole in front of you with the cashmere turtleneck is the only one chuckling to himself. And that’s the sound of “happiness”!

Alright though, that’s not what this is supposed to be about. I should really try and come up with things that make me happy. When bad people die is one. No, I’m not gonna write about that. My corner bar is something that makes me happy. I’ll write about that. But first I’m gonna go there.

Advertisement

Okay, I was just there (and I got to hear all my songs on the jukebox, which makes me happy), and as I sat frustrated (but with a buzz on—that makes me happy), with a virtually empty notebook in front of me containing a list of the things that make me happy (so far all I had were the words “New England Clam Chowder” written and scratched out several times, and the phrase, “Optimistic—Darkest before the Dawn!!!”), I got lucky. A girl came stumbling out of the bathroom and threw up on the floor. I got lucky because this set me on a completely different course of thinking. I realized that bursting out of the bathroom to throw up was a very backwards way of doing things (assuming she didn’t want to throw up in public and that’s why she went into the bathroom in the first place), and this made me think: “backwards.” Instead of trying to think of things that I am hopeful for or things that make me happy merely by their existence, I started to think in terms of being hopeful for what I’m not, or what won’t happen to me. Then the floodgates opened, and instead of a sludgy black tar of despair oozing forth, a rush of honey-infused, creamy goodness with hundred-dollar bills dipped in chocolate came screaming through my head. It was as if my soul had taken two hits of E and a much younger Nastassja Kinski was giving my brain a blowjob. Hooray!!

Before I go any further, let me put this in the context of right this very second. Pretty much since Dec. 12, 2000, I have been unable to inure myself from what is happening on the local, national and international level. I can no longer spend my days and nights in an increasingly blurry haze of getting fucked up and running around maybe trying to fuck cute girls all while trying to avoid getting the shit kicked out of me and/or arrested. No, no more. I can’t get past the omnipresent, dually depressing truths of the moment: 1) Just how bad things are about to become for almost everyone on the planet because of a handful of greedy, power-happy, heartless, rich beyond even the hackiest action-adventure spy movie villain motherfuckers ever committed to fiction who truly believe that they are doing God’s providence; and 2) How nobody seems to give a shit. At least not if it means interrupting their Sopranos time to actually do something about it. (i.e. at least educate themselves). Seriously, where does clam chowder fit into that equation? But as mentioned before, today is backwards day. Let’s take a look at why I should be happy in the aforementioned context.

Advertisement

OK, so we’re going to war, big deal. Put this in your bong and smoke it, assholes: I can’t be drafted. That’s a biggie on the list of things to make me happy. Not only am I too old, but I’ve yet to get lasik surgery AND have publicly wished for the assassination of George Bush. Only one of which makes me a candidate for the front. And because I wasn’t born poor, black or Hispanic, I am not currently enlisted. So while some poor sucker is out there taking one for the team as he kills malnourished children whose only crime was to have the unfortunate luck to be born into a country ruled by a despotic tyrant who won’t freely give powerful strangers unlimited access to its natural resources, I’ll be over here in the land of the free filming Scary Movie 3. (All of Islam can choke on our precious dick-jokes while they burn in an impure hell!!) OK, so that takes care of the coming war.

What about right here in the good ole US of A? What do I have to be happy about here? Well, for one thing I am not a single mother of three who just became one of the 150,000 people laid off this month. Nor am I one of her kids. I suppose I could always try to become the mistress of the CEO who laid me off. Maybe if I let him fly me to a conference in Dayton where he literally showers me with pearl necklaces, he’ll slip me some powdered-milk money for junior. But what if I’ve got a skin disease that wasn’t treated properly because I don’t have health insurance so now I’m ugly and… what am I talking about? I’m not poor! Ha ha, I almost forgot what this column was all about, sorry. See? I am happy that I won’t ever have to hope for the magnanimous and completely unbiased Jesus-happy handouts of whichever faith-based initiative has the balls to travel to my shithole in Appalachia, the Bronx, an Indian reservation or most of the South. Also, leave no child behind.

And guess what: Although it’s not for lack of trying, I’m still not a woman. So there’s tons of shit I won’t have to be worrying about in the coming years. And although I tan quite readily, I will never be mistaken for one of the billions of swarthy men running around the planet, so that should add a potential 40 years or so to my life expectancy. But perhaps one of the things that makes me happiest is the knowledge that I will never be so pathetic that I will joyously camp outside of a movie theater for weeks on end to wait in line for some fantasy nerd’s computerized wet dream that will be playing virtually nonstop for an entire season, while somehow justifying my not having the patience to wait in line for an excruciating, tortuous twenty minutes so that I could vote.

Okay, fuck it, this is about happiness. I’ll tell you what makes me happy—seeing my two kids, Skylar and Annabel-Lee, playing in the backyard with their black friend Franklin (Franklin was adopted by my good friends Aaron and Rachel Goldman. He’s Jewish now). Happiness is the absolute delight I get from hearing Skylar pronounce “spaghetti” as “pasghetti.” It’s the feeling I get from closing on the WorldStar account and beating that prick Dan Pennington in the monthly upshots at my firm Decker & Knowell (number-one firm in the tri-state area, bitches!). It’s knowing that I’m never more than twenty miles from a Hooters. It’s touching my wife’s face as I’m making love to her and thinking about anyone else but her. It’s saying, “Why yes, I did see the new J. Lo movie. Let’s talk about that for the next half-hour. I’ve got some strong opinions about her and Ben.” That, my friend, is true happiness… oh wait! Sorry, that’s for other people.

Peace out! The D-dog.

DAVID CROSS