Quit clobbering me with happiness!

The other day, we went to a festival with exhibits from countries all around the world. We went, not because we are a particularly cosmopolitan family, but for the same reason we go to the apple butter festival: it was free. Being the most provincial family member, I’d probably skip all such festivals in favor of watching football from the couch if I didn’t have a wife handy to stress the importance of free events, but that’s another story.

At the festival I won a prize for transferring three M&Ms from one dish to another with chop sticks, within the span of 15 seconds. I had hoped the prize would be more M&Ms, because my great triumph had left me peckish. But the guy in charge of prizes reached under the table and from there produced happiness, which he handed to me.

It was a folded, red piece of paper, cut into the shape of the Chinese word for happiness. This is what the guy said; for all I know it could be the Chinese word for sucker, but I am placing my faith in happiness. Unfolding the paper produced a duplicate image of the word, bringing me double happiness, or perhaps making me sucker twice over.

As one who values happiness, and is also a bad ass with chop sticks, I carefully kept my folded paper safe for the remainder of the event. Though other handouts might get crumpled in the glove box of the baby stroller, I guarded my special paper and got it home safely.

At which point, our four-year-old got hold of it. I was watching highlights from the lost day of football games when he showed up with my happiness in his hands. He opened it up and put it over his face, peering through some of the holes. “Look, it’s a mask,” he said.

Boy wearing happiness mask

Hiding behind the veil of happiness. There is no mouth hole for him to speak through, so maybe this represents a few minutes of parental happiness after all.

I did not remind him that his history with masks is not a happy one. Rather, I said that it was not a mask and asked him to be careful, as it took uncommon skill to win such a prize.

“Okay,” he said as he refolded it. “What happens when you hit somebody with it?” He began whacking me over the head with my own happiness.

“Stop it,” I commanded. “You’re going to break my happiness.”

“I can’t break it; it’s paper. But I bet I can rip it.”

I gave him a look that communicated ideas completely opposed to happiness. He returned a clever look that said my happiness was growing tiresome to him anyway. He attempted to toss it down upon the coffee table, but it floated off course and landed beneath the table. As long as it was out of his destructive hands, I was satisfied.

I got lost in my highlights and forgot about my happiness. As far as I know, my happiness is back where it was born: underneath a table. If you are searching for happiness, that might be a good place to look.

Searching under coffee table

Searching for my happiness. It has to be under here with all of our other toys.


15 comments on “Quit clobbering me with happiness!

  1. Ned's Blog says:

    Love this piece on so many levels (parent, man, frustrated origami maker). Your observation of not knowing that the mask really meant “happiness” or maybe something else reminded me of a TV show I saw where the guy got a tattoo of a Chinese symbol on his arm that was supposed to mean “Tiger.” An oriental delivery guy comes in, sees it and starts laughing. When asked why, he tells him the symbol means “Little Bitch.” I’m sure your mask means “Happiness,” though 🙂 Thanks for the laugh!

  2. Too funny. I’m wiping the happy tears from my face as I type.

    This reminded me so much of my oldest daughter, Shandelle. She came home one day with a Japanese symbol tattooed on her arm. I said, “What the hell is that?” She said, “It’s my name.” I said, “Do you really think Shandelle is in the Japanese language?” I have teased her on numerous occasions about what her tattoo probably says.

    Thanks so much for the much needed laughter.

    • What? Shandelle is not a common Japanese name? Funny. The boy also had some people at the festival write his name in different languages. I wouldn’t let him get a tattoo because I don’t think they really understood him when he told them his name. We’ll have to wait for the press-on tattoo festival for that.

  3. A. van Nerel says:

    You know how Facebook has done to the word ‘Friend’ what ‘Great Depression’ did to the Reichsmark (the key word is ‘inflation’ here)…well, your post did that with the word ‘happiness’ and I thank you for it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against happiness, but I don’t blame you for wanting more M&M’s instead of a piece of paper that indeed could mean anything…

  4. pieterk515 says:

    Ok, this a really funny. I mean laugh out loud funny. And I want some appreciation for not using the acronym there… Enjoyed the piece of you being peckish after three M&M’s. Doesn’t take much does it?

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