Well read-head: Antidotes to people who spoil your day
Recently, an oily looking salesman in a shopping mall unexpectedly grabbed my hand and starting rubbing some cream into it.
He had a mono brow and a lank, black ponytail at the nape of his neck.
‘Oh, very dry hands,’ he declared triumphantly as he massaged in the cream.
‘Um, what is that?’ I asked.
I’d been a million miles away when he’d slithered up and coiled himself around me. I felt a bit caught by surprise.
The salesman mentioned something about the Dead Sea and unfortunately took my question as a sign I was interested.
He started trying to pull me over to a sink and some sort of scrub.
‘I don’t have time,’ I said shaking my hand free.
‘It won’t take long,’ he persisted. ‘Come on!’
‘No thanks,’ I replied with an apologetic smile and began to walk away.
Something then happened which deflated my mood.
When the salesman saw that he couldn’t sell me anything, his demeanour instantly changed from over-friendly attentiveness to utter contempt. He gave me the most irritated, dismissive look imaginable.
His lip curled and he rolled his eyes. As I caught the escalator up to where I was meeting friends for lunch, I noticed to my surprise that my eyes were pricking with tears of irritation and anger.
Why had this salesman, who really was completely insignificant, had such an impact on my mood?
It’s odd how sometimes the smallest things can ruin our day and affect our sense of well-being; an aggressive salesman, a rude motorist, a snappy colleague.
They’re not important in the big picture but they make an impact nonetheless. On this occasion, the greasy salesman caught me when I was already a bit blue. He made me feel small in the way that only beauty practitioners can, whether it be about dry hands, blemishes, frizzy hair or whatever else.
I was also upset because even though I’d not invited this man to barge into my day, I’d behaved politely. Yet he had not treated me with courtesy. I’d upheld my end of the social contract; he had not.
Luckily, mood can unexpectedly swing back up again too.
All sorts of things can lift the spirits: a pretty tree, a friend with funny one-liners, an unexpected card in the mail, a colleague handing around some chocolates, an hilarious video on you tube, a dog with a wagging tail, walking into a room that smells of baking, a glass of wine.
I don’t mean to go all Pollyanna on you, but I thought that for this fortnight’s Well-readhead, I’d pick 10 things to hopefully make you feel good and make up for any minor irritations the day brings.
- I’ve been a fan of the Australian writer, comedian and film encyclopaedia, Tony Martin since his days on The Late Show. He has a website full of unusual and interesting articles called The Scrivener’s Fancy. I highly recommend it.
- What makes something funny? And how do comedians think up jokes? Charlie Brooker puzzles it out in The Guardian.
- The show Mad Men has been a huge hit. If you’re a fan of the program or its 50s look, check out HBO’s clever new promotional website. You can make an avatar of yourself in Mad Men style.
- If your mother keeps a photo of you with braces and a perm on the mantelpiece, you may find some solace here.
- Nearly 13 million people have watched these ridiculously cute otters holding hands. Make sure you keep watching until the end.
- If cute otters make you feel nauseous, you need a dose of F*** you Penguin, where they tell cute otters what’s what. I know I’ve linked to this website before, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
- If poking fun at cute animals appeals to you, then poking fun at badly dressed celebrities may appeal even more. If so, take a look at Go Fug Yourself.
- One of the books on the Booker Prize long list this year is ‘Me Cheetah’ by James Lever. It follows the story of Cheeta the Chimp and his adventures during the golden years of Hollywood. Everything I’ve read about it says it is absolutely hilarious. My local bookshop told me it’s not available in Australia yet, but the first chapter is published online as an extract.
- Talladega Nights is a Will Ferrell film that sends up Nascar culture in the US. Almost every line in this scene, in which Will Ferrell says grace, had me in hysterics.
- When Alison Byrnes was a teenager, she wrote a fan letter to the film writer and director, John Hughes, who died last week. Improbably, he wrote back and they became pen pals for a couple of years. Alison wrote a blog about their correspondence and it’s really great. The story has since been picked up by The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio.
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