Life On The Brightside
Picture a large oak wardrobe . . . one of the largest pieces of furniture in my friend’s bedroom set.
It had beautiful inlaid designs of maple and wormwood on the doors, ornate claw feet, and a decorative scroll on the top edge. And my friend wanted it in the upstairs bedroom. A group of us had volunteered to help her move into her new house and since I’m a self-proclaimed expert in estimating size and spatial orientation, I was sure we could get the piece up the stairs.
These were not the ordinary, straight-up-one-flight stairs. No—there was a landing and a ninety-degree turn in the middle. Not having a tape measure handy, I whipped off my belt and held it up to the wardrobe and then to the stairwell and announced, “It will fit!” Three of us grabbed a corner and made it up the first few steps, only to get stuck on the landing. No matter which way we turned it, leaned it, or maneuvered it, we just couldn’t get that wardrobe past the landing. We finally gave up and moved the wardrobe into the garage.
My friend said, “Thank you for being such a Pollyanna.” It’s true. I do tend to always look on the bright side. But that was the first time I can ever remember being thanked for it.
In high school, I was called Pollyanna as an insult. They threw in “Goodie Two Shoes” and “Brown Noser” for good measure. Back then, I didn’t know what a Pollyanna was. I must have missed that assigned reading—I bet it was on the summer reading list. And I never read the summer reading list . . . I had better things to do outdoors. When they called me Pollyanna, I pictured Pippi Longstocking. I did read that book, and I kind of liked being compared to her.
Anyway, a group of us were talking about how to forge a pass and skip school to go to the mall, to which I suggested, “Why don’t we just stay in class and go to the mall after school?” That suggestion landed with a thud and landed me the title of “Do Gooder” for the rest of the year.
Trying to be optimistic and cheerful is still something I do. I’ve been known to tell my kids, “Happiness is a choice.” Leave it to Psychology Today magazine to label Pollyannaism as an undesirable trait. They call it the “Pollyanna Principle.” The article offers the example of the Miss USA pageant contestant who says she wants world peace, claiming that those with this condition tend to be out of touch with reality.
Humph! I think there are many people who are much more out of touch with reality.
Today, the personality trait everyone is talking about is the Karen phenomenon. It’s a pejorative term reserved for older white women.
One bad day should not label a person forever. Maybe Karen was up all night with a sick child, or was just fired from her job of six years for no reason other than being over 50. It’s hard to be polite after something like that! Add to that the fact that customer service is not what it used to be. You can blame it on COVID and masks if you want, but many of the clerks and assistants who are supposed to be there to help you just don’t . . . and don’t care.
Taking all of that into consideration, I can see why women get upset and say the “wrong” things. I say, give them the benefit of the doubt before you hurl an insult or toss them into the Karen bin. Try putting yourself in their shoes.
Oops, there I go again! Some habits are hard to break. I’m still a Pollyanna.