• Paula Tiberius

Lady Negativity

I lied. I’m not really going to tell you about a minor improvement. Instead I am going to talk about an evil temptress named Negativity. I don’t want to like her, but I’m drawn to her. She’s so funny and interesting and self-effacing and cool. She doesn’t care what people think of her because she’s already beat them to any punchline they might consider throwing at her. And she gives as good as she gets. She tells cruel jokes and draws people in with her hilarious and mean accuracy. She knows the dirty little secret of the human race: We love negativity.

I was jogging around the reservoir yesterday (okay I was walking fast) and this little old lady passed by who had one of those surreal shrunken apple doll faces with perfectly applied lipstick and liquid eyeliner. A very Los Angeles old lady. She looked at me and smiled and I thought, Wow, what a freaky lookin’ lady. Then this guy who’d been walking behind me for a while came up on my left to pass me and he said, “Was that lady straight out of Munchkinland or what?” Then he laughed and I laughed too, not because it was a good joke, but because I always laugh when strangers talk to me.

But then I suddenly felt guilty and oddly protective of the freaky old lady, like who was this guy to put her down? He had an orange tan and a flat ass! So I said, “I think she looks pretty cool.” As the words were leaving my lips, I knew he was not the audience for them, but I didn’t care. Sure enough, he gave me this look like, Cool? No, the Munchkin lady is not cool. But he didn’t say that. He said, “Yeah, she’s all right. Listen, we’ll all look bad one day.” This, to me, was even weirder than what I’d said. She’s all right; we’ll all look bad one day. The first clause he doesn’t really believe, obviously, since he already implied she looks bad.  The second he may believe, but really, he should keep his negative generalizations to himself. I don’t intend to look “bad” one day. Do most people? Does he feel he’s progressing toward “badness” with every passing moment, every additional wrinkle?

I was totally ripping on this guy in my head as I watched his flat (presumably orange) ass walking ahead of me. Then I thought, Damn! Tricked again! Lady Negativity had gotten to me anyway. Even as I was so gallantly defending the freaky old lady, I was nicknaming this guy Flat Orange in my head, already going on a tangent wondering why that phrase sounded so familiar. Blood orange? Agent orange? Anyway, the point is that a simple exchange on a jogging trail can become a minefield of negativity. There are so many layers to it that I get confused wondering if I’ve gained any points with the universe or not?

Probably not, but that’s so negative!

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