Give the Man a Prize

Please note: I take a very long time to get to my point. As always.

Call me weird, depressing, pessimistic, or cynical, but I cannot stand inspirational stories as a whole. Granted, there is the odd story I come across in a news article or book which makes me tear up or sigh with happiness over its conclusion, but those are rare and I don’t often stumble upon them on purpose. I’m more for bittersweet stories where not everything turns out peachy.

Flash some clickbait across my screen declaring “What happens next will make you cry” and the last thing I’m going to do is click on it. Why on earth would I purposefully seek out another reason to cry?

When the morning crew on my standard radio station gears up for the “Inspiring Story of the Day”, I switch to a secondary station because, 1) the inspiring story is always told by someone calling in, so it’s typically scratchy and hard to understand, which is exacerbated by the fact that they typically break down into tears, 2) I can’t stand radio commentary, 3) and I don’t like forcing feelings of gratitude, awe, or worship. (That last one is why I also don’t like Chris Tomlin’s music on the whole.)

Don’t even get me started on inspirational movies like Hachi.

On the other hand, I do like subtly philosophical stories involving underdogs. Underdogs are one of my weaknesses, right next to tea. Even if I don’t necessarily enjoy the parables shoved in my face in the form of stories evangelists read from the pulpit, they tend to stick with me when they have underdogs and underlying themes of self-discovery.

Take, for example, Max Lucado’s You Are Special book and movie. Personally, I find animated wooden people such as Lucado’s Wemmicks eerie at best.* I never felt I could associate with them at all, not even as a child. But even as a child I could understand Lucado’s message.

The Wemmicks live in a world where everyone judges everyone else and has physical objects with which they rate what they see. If they like how you look, act, or talk, you get a star sticker. If they find you unappealing, you get a gray dot.

Then there’s Veggie Tales’ A Snoodle’s Tale, which is Dad’s favorite Veggie Tales movie. (Mine is The Pirates Who Don’t do Anything, if you’re curious, because I’m a sucker for incredible kingly characters. You’d be surprised how excited I get when a cucumber king appears in a beam of light and saves the day.)
Don’t ask me why Snoodles are easier to stomach than Wemmicks. It may have something to do with the fact that the movie is in verse, narrated by my favorite vegetable fruit, Bob.

In Snoodlesville Flibber-O-Loo, everyone goes around judging everyone else,  but instead of stickers, they paint pictures of how they see you. Our main character gets called weak and stupid** and incompetent by his peers, and all of their pictures weigh him down so badly that he can’t fly, has no desire to play his kazoo, and loses his appetite for noodles. In despair, he climbs up a solitary mountain, where he meets a man with a deep voice who paints a different picture.***

*Cue happy sigh.*

I write all of this to give you a little insight into the following stories.

First of all, I recently gifted Jo with several sheets of sparkly star stickers. Why did I do this? Because for months Jo has repeatedly said she wishes she had stickers to slap on people’s faces or hands or arms whenever they behave in a way which tickles her sarcastic nature. Jo gets about as much delight out of shocking people with seemingly random behavior like handing out stickers as I do out of cucumber kings.

Jo has yet to whip out her stickers, as she keeps forgetting to grab them, but I’m just waiting for the day. And every time I think about it, my mind is drawn back to Wemmicks. Do I feel guilty? Nope.

Actually, I’m starting to think I need to get my own pack of stickers, because there are some people who need a sticker slapped on their forehead as evidence of my withheld sarcasm. (That was the weakest punch line I’ve heard all week. Give the man a sticker because he thinks he’s so clever.”)

Yesterday I ran to the grocery store for pet food. This included the standard 50-pound bag of dog food, which has started to disappear more quickly now that Jo is home for the summer and her dog no longer skips meals.

I take great pride in the fact that I can heft 50-pound bags of dog and chicken feed without breaking a sweat, and I stand a little taller when pushing dog food around in my cart.****

I rolled up behind a family of three in a checkout lane, where the father took one look at the largest item in my cart and said, “I’m guessing you don’t have a chihuahua.”

My fingers just itched to plaster him with stickers.

“No. Two lab mixes.” I answered in my best fake-amusement voice.

His daughter saw the packet of guinea pig treats, covered with larger-than-life images of fluffy pigs, and asked what they were for.

It’s probably a good thing we don’t live in a society where it is acceptable to react to people by covering them in stickers or drawing caricatures of them which they must accept. Because my stupidity intolerance is as strong as my procrastination habit, and I’d be one villainous Wemmick or Snoodle.


*I blame Pinnochio for this. I don’t care how badly a carved tree wants to be a real boy, the entire concept upsets my deep-rooted sense of rightness.

** No, they don’t say “stupid”. For one, it’t hard to rhyme with anything other than “cupid”, and two, that isn’t appropriate in a children’s book or movie. (I’m looking at you, Pinkalicious and Angelina Ballerina.)

*** If you’ve learned anything from reading this blog, you won’t be surprised that I was seriously tempted to insert a Valente quote here. “Call yourself what you wish to become” just seems appropriate.

**** On my list for the ideal man, “Stronger than me” is right below “Has a good sense of humor”. I can’t stand being able to lift more than guys my age.


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