JUST KEEP SMILING
It was very clever. And just what we needed.
It was not only under everyone’s radar they came, they got under our skin too... due to their happy effect on us.
What was there to dislike?
They were highly personable. They knew the subjects that would interest us. There was nothing obvious about it. It wasn’t as if they flattered us. There was nothing you could put your finger on, they were just very amiable and we liked them. A lot.
After the pandemics we longed for a bit of normality, we felt a desperate need to talk, enjoy some company, laugh, smile and forget the deadly seriousness of what we’d been through.
The Smilers were right there, ready and willing... just at the right time when we needed them.
You’d meet them at bus stops or at the garage, shopping in the mall or market, fetching the kids from school, at soup kitchens or charity events. Quite out of the blue you’d be chatting with a stranger that felt like an old friend and feeling the relief of something a little more satisfying than regular small talk. And it was so good to find yourself smiling again.
Their presence had a knock-on effect that gradually began to permeate whole nations. Suddenly the world seemed to be brightening up all at once. People were beginning to realize the pleasure there was in interaction with one another. The freezing of relationships other than with nearest and dearest during the pandemic of ‘25 had been total. Life had turned down the happiness dial on all of us. Now things were at last on the upturn.
We began to avoid mainstream news as a downer. As the happiness quotient went up interest in the doom and gloom dramas they endlessly fired at us went down. A new spirit began to flood the zeitgeist, that of trusting one another, of opening up, of letting our bare faces hang out and just being there one to another... we were having fun again and being ever more inclined to see the brighter side of life.
Heavy topics were becoming studiosly avoided. Religion was being abandoned with all its solemn intoning and life-deadening rules in ever-greater numbers. A hedomistic spirit tempered by a sensual openness that was not degraded by abuse, but simply reflected open attitudes of pleasure and trust, began to pervade our lives.
We were not aware then that the Smilers were finding their way to positions where our newfound love of life and trust in others could be encouraged, nurtured and made integral to our lives.
They appeared no different than anyone else, jollier yes, and chatty... folk who were interested in us rather than trying to be interesting. They didn’t want an audience... they wanted you to be the star of the show. They were simply the kind of people that could refresh your life just by the simplest of means, human to human communications.
Except, as we know now, they were not in fact human. Funny, isn’t it?
Back then we were simply breathing out again after a year of hardly daring to breathe at all, let alone sneeze, cough or even talk. They brought us back to life again, made us feel truly human once more. Really and truly adult humans and happy once more to be human.
It’s ironic, I know.
It was around six months in when by one means or another the news reached us.
One or two of us were still watching the nightly news, we hadn’t all become cheery chappies and chapesses switching to the endless comedy shows appearing then.
The number of missing children was rising.
For those without children this was no big deal of course, they had some initial slight concerns. But not for long.
For those of the W.C. Fields persuasion this was in fact a real boon. They could go on holiday now and no longer be made to perpetually frown due to those noise brats.
For those whose children were safe at home it was only of slight concern at first.
But this was about to change... and quickly.
In these new times Mom and Dad had again begun letting their kids loose from their previous home confinement.
In the decades just past, fear of infection, injury, bullying, the prevalence of soft drugs and much else besides had brought about a trend of keeping kids at home. Now, with the new bright outlook for the future happening and people seeming much more friendly, responsible and nice, caring one for another it seemed the right time to let the kids rejoin the real world outside and to hang with the risks that seemed much diminished now.
It was when the figures for what appeared to be abductions caused the missing children figures to double on a monthly basis that alarms began ringing in those homes where kiddiewinkels were an integral part of the household.
The discordant effect of a newfound jollity and optimism within our societies when contrasted with this disquieting news of disappearing children was pronounced. Mentally some of us felt torn apart emotionally. It was as if one side of the mouth wanted to arc up in a smile while the other wanted to turn decidedly down.
Psychologists began doing better businessness than ever. Self-help groups were appearing everywhere for worried parents. Meanwhile clown academies had never been more popular and more and more began to spring up.
It was all quite a circus.
Still the numbers of missing kiddies continued to rise. Up and up they went... as did the big tents of circus marquees in most major and even minor towns.
I could see in which population there was an exponential rise however. It was becoming as plain as the nose on your face.
Eventually, presidents and prime ministers were called on to take off their costumes and red noses in their effort to ‘get with’ the times, and attend to matters.
Token study groups of child psychologists, welfare workers and kindergarten teachers were formed with elite members of police forces in attendance. A nationwide campaign was initiated that attempted to straddle the divide between humour and horror in what a lessening minority claimed was in extremely bad taste.
Still the numbers of sweet little darlings disappearing continued to rise.
Most people trusted that it would all come out right in the end, that there was a reasonable explanation, to not worry and instead look on the bright side. This cheerful outlook made a minority of those still inclined to the darker side of these events extremely angry. They took to the streets in increasing numbers, loudly vocal in calling for an end to the totally innapropriate cheerfullness they saw all around them.
Most onlookers it must be said however, tended to snigger as they joked with each other, remarking on how silly the placards were. Those holding them went by faces frowning in anger, some snarling with a heartfelt hatred, threatening to punch the grinning faces gaping at them from all sides.
All was going very much to plan as we now know.
But there was much more to come before we realized.
The Rainbow Unity of Trust (Happiness and Just being plain Silly) group arrived.
It was matched by The Realist Tendency (Holding on to our Sanity) faction who were set up to oppose them.
There were many riots in one. One was a riot of color and gaeity. The other was a mass of black clothes and dark temperaments. The last was rather red and bloody. But that’s still colorful you must admit!
Cream pies flew along with bricks from opposing sides. It made for quite a mess in one way or another. Smiling faces were smashed. Frowning faces were painted with day-glo colors and a funny hat plopped on rabid heads. The psychedelic Sixties of fond memory had nothing on this!
But I shouldn’t laugh. It was deadly serious. At least I’m sure it must have been...
It’s quite hard for me to tell. I find it hard to take anything seriously these days.
There’s this guy who’s our president now who I’m pretty sure I should recoil in horror of regarding his bizarre behavior. He laughs uproarously when giving the most draconian instructions to his band of rather wild and wooly-looking staff. His recent pronouncement that The Realist Tendency was to be designated as a terrorist group was given with a series of belly laughs where he needed several minutes to recompose himself before continuing with his announcement.
But his will was done. And with a determined smirk on every face too!
The round up took several days but eventually all were found and taken to Las Vegas. There they were given a week to shape up and smile. Or, well... be exterminated as wet blankets spoiling the party for the rest of us.
I did take a peek at the news tonight before turning to happier channels so I am able to inform you that none of the terrorist mob could be made to smile. So we are happily free of them at last.
Free too of all those children who could be SO very annoying and demanding, ALWAYS wanting us adults to do what THEY wanted, without EVER giving us a thought to OUR happiness!
It’s so good now. All’s well in the best of all possible worlds.
The Smilers even arranged a big smile on the face of the Man in the Moon!
We’re ALL Smilers now.
You’ll have seen the posters everywhere, am I right?
You got it!
“JUST KEEP SMILING”