Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bring in the Clowns

Lately, I've been noticing there's a lot of unhappy people in the world. However, there are three that really get to me.

The woman behind the counter at the gym looks like a Forgotten Poodle. Her blond hair is teased and perfectly coiffed, her eye-liner carefully applied in a thick line. She's an older woman who wears a turtleneck under her company polo shirt, even when it's 110 degrees outside. She walks on the treadmill every morning, staring at the T.V. Sometimes, she'll talk to the person next to her. When she talks, she looks down and smiles slightly as the woman talks about her husband and children. Every step is a heartache, a weary journey that will never cease. She sits behind the counter, her sad eyes staring up as people enter. When she thinks no one is watching, she looks wistfully out the door. She stares throughout the day, watching the happy shoppers and cars whizzing by. Each child that walks in the door digs a deeper hole in her heart. Sometimes she leans her head on the counter, the weariness reflected in the glass.

One man is perpetually happy. Always cheerful and smiling, he stops to say hello to everyone. He spouts poetry about how days should not be wasted with anger or bad feelings, and how one should live every day to it's fullest. With crisp shirts in bright colors and ties that can be seen a mile away, this man is a Clown. Everybody loves this man, and girls crowd around him to giggle and tease. His only bad habit is smoking, which he does in a group. He is, of course, the center of attention, telling jokes and listening as the laughter washes over him. When he thinks no one is looking, his smile drops. His eyes are filled with worry and sadness, and he holds his head as he holds his cigarette. His hand trembles slightly, from nerves and worry, and he steadies it. Whether he worries about love, a mortgage or a mountain of debt, he never talks about it. He takes a few breaths, and paints his face with a smile before walking inside.

Another woman at the gym is desperate for interaction. She talks to anyone who is next to her, driving away annoyed women who want to tune out and burn off last night's pizza. Other women are only polite, and she knows it. She desperately reaches out, desperate to have someone like her, someone want to talk to her. Once someone is interested, she ignores her routine to follow them around the gym. She tells about her past, her family and her health problems. When she talks about her youth, disappointment creases her eyes. She sighs when she remembers her slight figure, her pouty lips and lushcious hair. She pretends to be adjusted, and laughs weakly. "Cie la vie!" Still, when she thinks no one is watching, she daydreams about how things used to be. Her face takes on a longing look as she wheels slowly on the bike. Her eyes are sad, and her mouth is pulling down and looks as though it was drawn with charcoal. In her mind, she is young, careless and free. She briefly grasps happiness, remembering past loves and a whirlwind of years. As the machine beeps, her smile disappears. She stares at her body, large, flabby and ridden with diabetes and disease and tries not to cry.

The only thing I wish, if I could wish anything in the world, is to make these people smile. Not just for a minute, an hour, or a day- but a lifetime. Let's just hope that someone will help them have happier lives, for no one deserves to be sad.