If You Must Know, a Pole Rammed Up Your Ass Would Make Me Happy
Nothing terribly interesting occured during my trip. It was the usual cornucopia of long flights, strange hotel rooms, exorbitant quantities of time with my coworkers, and excruciatingly long work days.
I did, however, get a chance to fulfill a particularly long-held fantasy of mine. To the disappointment of my readers, this one doesn't entail any tawdry or lustful behavior (insert collective sigh here), but much to my delight it does involve a soul-enriching act of feminist misanthropy. Now I know, I know -- unless you are a first year Women's Studies student, "soul enriching" and "feminist misanthropy" aren't words generally juxtaposed in the same sentence. But bear with me.
You see, during my trip I ran into one of those annoying men who, by the mere act of passing a woman on the street and casually glancing in her direction, can miraculously come to a groundless yet definitive conclusion about the state of her emotional health. I'm sure you're all familiar with them -- those ambling, dumb weirdos who walk by and, without prompting, exclaim something to the tune of, "Awwww, don't look so sad!" or, "Come now, why aren't you smiling?" regardless of whether or not there actually exists a look of malcontent on your face. I've been dogged by men like this my entire adult life, and I know I'm not alone. And while some may find harmless their "innocent" or "good-natured" comments, I find them problematic, not to mention annoying.
I call these men Mood Oglers because the directives they launch at random female strangers accomplish the exact same thing that the actions of their gruffer yet more honest brethren, the Whistlers and Honkers, do: namely, to objectify women. But while the obvious nature of the Whistlers' and Honkers' motivations renders them laughable, the Mood Oglers' more clandestine tactics are maddening. Their behavior implies that women owe all strangers of the opposite sex a wink and a smile because by virtue of their gender they are mere anesthetized decorative objects whose dispositions and facial expressions should be rightfully dictated by the men who just happen to be looking their way. Indeed, when a random male passerby tells a woman that the circumstances of her life can't possibly inspire anything other than the appearance of obliging congeniality, he ignores that woman's humanity -- a humanity that is both capable of experiencing the full spectrum of mortal emotion and that doesn't owe any stranger explanation, concession, or modification. In doing so, he casts her as nothing more than a pretty, cheerful, vapid doll. Never mind that just because she's not smiling doesn't mean she's unhappy. Never mind that the sad or angry expression on her face might be merited by an experience of pain or grief that isn't anyone else's business. Never mind that the Mood Ogler's ugly mug might, in fact, be responsible for her frown.
For years, I've put up with these creeps, and I've been polite. Of course, I've fantasized about putting them in their place by saying something like, "If you really must know, my dad just died," or "Well, I was in a good mood, but the last dumbass stranger who told me to smile got offended when I said 'fuck off,' and that made me angry." But instead, I've shrugged them away quietly, raising my eyebrows and twittering incoherently but compliantly or, on my less churlish days, offering feeble but deferential giggles or smiles.
However, as you might imagine, since my cancer has recurred my days of Mood Ogler charity are officially over. So when I was accosted during my trip by a strange man's grating plea to "Cheer up -- things can't possibly be that bad!" I had to impugn, "Actually, I'm dying of cancer, and your shiny, balding head and appalling halitosis aren't making the journey any easier, dickwad."
I think that if I pass away from this disease I will now be able to do so feeling content and fulfilled. Peaceful, even. Because I've finally achieved something remarkable -- something that will have a lasting effect on the world. That's one less Mood Ogler the sisterhood will have to abide. And in the absence of family legacy or profound artistic achievement, picking off these sniveling assholes is pretty darn satisfying. In fact, although my time on this earth may be abbreviated, I am locked and loaded like Rambo over here.
So attention all Mood Oglers: Just try me, dipshits, and you'll see that my trigger finger -- unlike the expression on my face -- is insanely, dare I say scarily, happy. Now YOU cheer the fuck up, okay?