I was sitting in Baskin Robbins this afternoon, enjoying some gold medal ribbon (my fave!), when Shiny Happy People by R.E.M. came on. I found myself mindlessly singing along to some of the lyrics I remember from when that song was popular about twenty years ago. And it occurred to me ... I've never really listened to the lyrics and I have no idea what the song is about. Is it being sarcastic? Critical? Judgmental? Observant? Seriously, I have no idea. I started to look around as I tapped my foot and hummed along and I noticed ... shiny AND happy people all around me.
Now let me be clear: I may be (mostly) happy, but I am NOT shiny. Ever. Better words to describe me are frazzled, disheveled, discombobulated, sometimes even unkempt. The image I emanate is probably "lazy." I simply don't have time for all that fussing; I don't shop, and I will choose sleep over time-for-primping 100% of the time.
There was a woman with a little girl about 5 years old. I couldn't tell if she was the girl's (young) grandmother or (older) mother. Anyway, the woman was very "shiny." She was bleached blonde, faux-tanned, in good shape, adorned in "bohemian" clothes and jewelry, and impeccably groomed and made up. (I'm sure those tendrils coming out of her tousled ponytail were intentional!) She almost glowed (in a good way, not in a give-the-self-tanner-a-rest way.) I caught myself staring at her because, seriously, how much time must she spend on herself? It's a Friday afternoon, and I'm assuming this is probably what she looks like all the time. So she had to shop for her clothes and jewelry - and unless she has superpowers, you know that took more than one trip! - go to the hair salon and sit for an hour or two, sit at the nail salon for an hour or two, plus travel, and then the showering-shampooing-moisturizing-blowdrying-makeupping-dressing-accessorizing routine every morning, and the removal time in the evening. That's HOURS every day, and HOURS every week, and even more HOURS every month. I'm not judging at all, it's just that I am the complete opposite of her. Anyway, she was shiny and - at least in the fantasy world I have created for her in my head - she's happy.
The little girl was shiny and happy too, but in an age-appropriate way. She had blue eyes and blonde hair pulled back off of her face and falling out of her barrettes just a little, a beautiful green dress, sunkissed skin, painted (short) nails, cute sandals, and a radiant smile. She was getting some sherbet but was also picking out her ice cream cake for her birthday party. What's not to be happy about, right?
There was an older gentleman in line behind me and guess what? Shiny and happy! He looked like he's retired and plays a lot of tennis or golf ... tan, fit, looking relaxed. He smiled at me and struck up a conversation while we waited in line. I learned he was givng ice cream gift certificates to his grandchildren as a back-to-school treat. He noticed the little girl and smiled at her. So many times older folks ... and in my experience, older men in particular ... are crabby. Not this guy. He was shiny. He was happy.
A different woman ahead of me in line was shiny, too, but in a more subtle way than the other shiny, happy woman. This one emanated clean and fresh and cool. In a relaxed state her face was calm. She was waiting for the employee to write a message on a cake she picked from the freezer. When the gal came out with the freshly written-on cake, guess what? HAPPY!
There were two mid-twenties guys eating sandwiches who looked shiny in a literal way; they clearly had been exercising or something and had that fresh-sweat sheen. And they were laughing and joking and bustin' each others' chops. Happy.
This seems like an awful lot of shiny happy people in one place if you ask me. I mean seriously, where are the Maxines and the Walters? Then it hit me ... the employees were neither shiny nor happy. That's too bad but at least it gave the place some balance.
I left with a little spring in my step. I want to be a shiny happy person. And so it shall be. Further updates on Project Shiny Happy Person as events warrant.