I have a special fondness for those Grumpy Cat memes, because in a world which is often full of fake smiles and artificial sweetness, it is refreshing to see that frowning, unimpressed face which tells it like it is with hilarious slogans.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling cynical, only black humour will do to really cheer me up.
I know it sounds like a paradox but it’s true. There is a kind of perverse satisfaction in bursting the balloon of some perky, persistently upbeat cliché. It’s so liberating.
So, yes, I do laugh when I see this photo of Jack and Rose in their iconic Titanic pose, and the accompanying caption. Ah, Grumpy Cat, I do love you so.
Ok, I know you are waiting for the inevitable ‘but’, so here it is.
But, there is a difference between laughing at a cat which is in a permanent bad mood, and being in a permanent bad mood yourself. I should know; for a while there last month I was going around flaring up at the slightest incident, snapping people’s heads off for no reason at all, and generally snarling my way through the day.
Not a good sign, I’m sure you will agree. It felt like I had undergone a personality transplant, because this was not like me at all. Sure, I get irritated like everyone else at the things which don’t work in this country (and I often vent about them here and on Facebook) but this was different. This was a swelling fury which would be triggered by the most innocuous incidents – like that poor guy who tried to jump me at the supermarket queue who I ferociously snapped at. Whoever you are, I apologize.
Conversations with those who disagreed with me on any topic were virtually impossible. I had to physically walk away because I was afraid I would say something really, really terrible and insulting that I would later regret. Replying to snide comments on Facebook was an exercise in great restraint, let me tell you. There were many times I wrote harsh, scathing replies full of expletives but then deleted them…
When an idiotic driver swerved into my lane, I would get so enraged that I would fantasize about jabbing his eyeballs with a biro. Yes, that kind of rage. It felt like I had no control over my own emotions, and yes ladies, I’m sure you all recognize the familiar signs.
The thing is, in my calmer moments I realized that it could not be that, suddenly, the whole of Malta was conspiring to make me angry. What had changed was that minor mishaps which I would normally shrug off became so magnified (in my view) that they were leading to my over-the-top reactions. I had to admit that it was not everyone else who was being deliberately annoying just to piss me off, but that the problem was my own attitude.
Being the Internet junkie that I am, I Googled and researched and, eventually, I was reassured that I was not losing my mind, but that these mood swings are quite normal and that there are natural ways to defuse them which do not involve wielding a baseball bat.
The whole point of this personal account is that now that I am more like my old self, I am starting to see traces of this continuous irritability, snarky behaviour and anger on a national level. So what is it? Can it be that everyone (including men) is suffering from wild mood swings and bouts of uncontrolled rage?
I know that as a country we love our drama – give us an episode like the JPO-Franco-Nicky Azzopardi Serkin incident which occurred over a couple of pastizzi and a mug of tea and we are in soap opera heaven. So many people came out in full force, relishing the episode and claiming that they, too, would have blown a fuse if someone had dared insult their children. My suggestion that JPO could have just walked away from the ugly scene with his dignity intact was met with exclamations of disbelief. So maybe it’s a ‘Mediterranean honour’ thing which is probably missing in my genetic make-up. Someone mentions your kids, your mother or your wife and you lunge at him, mhux ovvja?
Then, of course, we had the whole “let’s insult Cecilia Malmstrom on her Facebook page” episode when, for a couple of days, people seemed to be competing with each other for the most imaginative and badly spelt suggestions possible of what Ms Malmstrom should do, and with whom. I really cannot understand what they hoped to achieve by doing this, but I can picture them, patting themselves on the back, and swaggering to their friends about how they “told her off”.
Okay, next drama please. I really do think that without something to argue and get all incensed about, many people just find life too boring,
What really struck me as being unnecessarily bitchy though was the reaction to that viral video of a guy proposing to his girlfriend at the National Aquarium. Since I was not in Grumpy Cat mode, I thought this was a sweet, romantic gesture and I even got teary-eyed at her reaction.
But no, we cannot have any happiness around now can we? I immediately started seeing snide comments to the effect that the owners of the Aquarium merely did this to promote their venue. Uhm, yes, and so what if they did? It was a good marketing idea, and it worked.
Others were complaining because this guy was allowed into the Aquarium when it is still not officially opened so he must have ‘connections’. Oh dear me, pass me the smelling salts, how can that be…do things in Malta really depend on who you know? Please, get over yourselves. Of course it helps to arrange this kind of thing if you happen to know the owner and let’s face it, anyone and everyone ‘uses’ their connections on the island if it helps them get what they want.
So my point is that, yes, persistent, false cheerfulness can be annoying and can make you want to slap some people silly.
Yes, there are times when everyone around you is getting on your last nerves so badly that you daydream about machine-gunning them and nonchalantly walking away without remorse.
Yes, sometimes those Grumpy Cat memes can be the only bright spot in an otherwise gloomy, stay-out-of- my-way, moody day.
But take it from me, constant bad moods can be difficult to snap out of and they only serve to make you feel worse.
Plus, all that frowning gives you wrinkles.