Saturday, September 26, 2009

Guest blog - Oscar the Grouch

Hey everyone. I have a treat for you today...a guest blogger. He is the smartest, funniest, kindest man I have ever met - my husband.


Do you have a favorite Sesame Street character? I bet there's a Facebook app that asks you 10 dumb questions and then tells you whether you're Bert or Ernie. I don't need the test - I'm an Oscar guy. Elmo is endearing, Grover is amusing, but Oscar gets it. Even in the peaceful world where muppets, monsters, and people live in harmony, he sees the world for what it is. Even when he sings out loud, sings out strong: "Grouches of the world unite! Don't let the sunshine spoil your rain...just stand up and complain!"

Maybe that explains my deep down, unstoppable, undeniable love for the blogger herself. You see, this note isn't about a grouchy guest blogger, but rather about his grouchy wife - and why her griping is appropriate and healthy. In fact, I think it's the key to her fundamental happiness.

I don't know why it's considered a core virtue to suppress pain. I am always puzzled when someone passes away, and the eulogy includes the inevitable praise for the deceased having suffered in silence: "...and even after Gertrude lost her eyesight, and could no longer read while she lay in her iron lung, she never once complained, and always greeted others with a smile."

I guess it's cultural, part of the American can-do ethic that broke the British during the winter at Valley Forge, then tamed the Wild West, and kicked some Nazi butt for good measure. If Laura Ingalls can survive the tough Minnesota winters in her little house on the prairie, then you need to suck it up, too. Cowboy up!

What a ridiculous attitude this is. No one likes the non-stop gripers - I get that. But I suspect that the real reason that people are so quick to offer up praise for those who "never complain" is that it spares them from feeling bad. In other words, if you are in agony, keep it to that I don't have to suffer, too.

But what are friends for if not to comfort you during the rough times - even if those rough times last your whole life? (Then again, except for Katie, I don't really have any friends, so I'm not sure that I'm qualified to give advice in this respect.)

One final point: I don't think you need a doctorate in clinical psychology to recognize that it just can't be healthy for someone to suppress their challenges. Raisin in the sun, you know?

As the person closest to the situation, I can report honestly that our lovely Katie manages the contradiction well. She is just grouchy enough to stay happy.

So if you're reading this while in an iron lung, feel free to mention how much it sucks. Whomever you tell may feel a little worse, but you'll feel a lot better. And when you've been dealt such a rotten hand, that seems a fair tradeoff.

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