This month’s #blogbattle prompt is Gloom.
Derek Gloom let go of the ball bearing to start his Newton’s cradle. Each time the ball hit the next one, the ball glowed with a smiley face. Every day started that way with Derek setting the infinity toy in motion. Every day Derek’s face lit up as the first smiley face appeared. Only today his face refused to move.
Derek Gloom had risen slowly like a unproved loaf to the post of Assistant Lecturer in Meliorism, the philosophy of happiness. Meliorism formed a core component of the Emoting Department at Little Tittweaking’s University of Plegmatism. His course covered modules including Neo-classical Grinning, The Joke’s on Shakespeare, Jane Austin and Bodice Splitting and the ever popular Top Marx! Chuckling Communists.
He’d got used to sharing a stage with Bonnie Upbeat, Professor of Misberalism, famous for her enormous tome on How Defeatism Shaped Democracy and arguing against her case. In Derek’s opinion it was all part of the fun even if Bonnie was inclined to flush her head down the toilet after each one of their debates even if her arguments won over the audience. Indeed it often seemed to Derek as he danced a solo jive outside the ladies while he waited for Bonnie’s mood to improve to merely suicidal so he could buy her a drink that the more rapturous the applause for her doomsaying the longer the subsequent flushing and the greater her need to completely saturate her sorrows.
And why was Derek less than his perky self today? In part it was the disconcerting and possibly unique experience of a smiling Bonnie standing on the other side of his desk.
‘You seen the paper?’
Straight to the point, thought Derek. Of course he had. ‘No. Something chipper and uplifting?’
‘Oh no. Not at all,’ said a clearly delighted Bonnie. ‘Seems the police in Positivity have been at it again. Beating up some innocent for not showing enough teeth when smiling. It’s trending.’ She fumbled with her phone and pulled up her Twitter feed.
Derek knew it. The #MeTooth meme was everywhere. And now people were dragging up their experiences of being told to ‘cheer up’ and ‘a smile never hurt anyone’ and how it had left them confused and alienated.
‘It’s a problem that society hasn’t had the courage to address, this unconscious happiness that’s been holding back and hounding depressives for years.’
‘That’s going a bit far, Bonnie.’
‘That’s exactly the problem, Derek. You need to check your perky privileges. You’ve been unwittingly imposing your optimism on everyone. Those studies, you know the ones that say laughter is good for you, you’ll live longer? They’re now going to revisit them. The Bile’s Better than Banter faction is getting a lot of funding right now.’ She turned for the door. ‘This is going to be so much fun. I will absolutely hate it.’
Derek allowed his gaze move to his screen where the email sat. From the Dean to Derek, inviting him to a short meeting to discuss how he was going to handle the complaints from his students – that he had encouraged them, made them feel empowered and good about themselves.
Derek Gloom stood and let his face settle into its default expression – utter bliss. Bring it on, thought Derek. If he was going to go down, he was going down smiling.