Derek and the Dogs of Defeatism #blogbattle

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.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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21 Responses to Derek and the Dogs of Defeatism #blogbattle

  1. I appreciate the spelling of his name

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I appreciate the spelling of his name

    Liked by 1 person

  3. noelleg44 says:

    You’ve captured academia so well!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A smile is a frown beaten out of someone. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. JT Twissel says:

    The MeTooth movement – hahaha!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Gary says:

    Ahh, the conundrum of fewer muscles to smile than frown springs forth. Alas the urban myth displaced as it seems at least 10 muscles are required to smile and a mere 6 to frown… I’m sure this is factored into university calculations and faculty grant awards. Not that this is at all relevant to Derrick apart from less facial exercise than perhaps he thinks upon the motion of the infinity machine.

    It’s been many a long moon since I was out and about on here Geoff, hope alls as well as ever…even if that’s a scrape in current global climes

    Liked by 1 person

  7. aebranson says:

    You’re guilty of making me smile at the end of this story. 🙂 Love the mirror to today’s society and the academia that poisons it. It seems to be ‘opposite day’ every day in Derek’s world. Another job well done, which hopefully won’t depress you….

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: #BlogBattle Stories: Gloom | BlogBattle

  9. Speaking from outside of Academia, but a solid lifelong believer in Grumpiness is Honesty, this was a treat to read.
    The satirical, and yet still laugh-out loud humour as the themes bounce back and forth between the two opposing comic forces was a wild-ride with the aid of a incisive prism on the social trend to effect moods…..
    Oh heck I’ve slipped into Broadsheet Literary Critic mode…Sorry ’bout that.
    Back to stability..
    A very clever and fun read!

    Liked by 1 person

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