I am, amongst my many other debilitating personality traits and childish behavior issues, a smirker. I am a grinner and giggler. I occasionally chuckle and even sometimes guffaw. I often don’t need a particular set of circumstances for these habits to occur, just being conscious will often do. I will regularly exit my local environment, and wonder off gaily through my mind and indulge in some welcome revisiting of my life’s greatest and most memorable happenings. Other times, people will say grown-up and serious words such as ‘titular’, ‘moist’ or ‘ThunderCougarFalconBird’, and I will sit there and happily smirk away to myself. Unfaithfully recorded words heard through the prism of my occasionally malfunctioning ears and by inability to find much of adult life (Taxes! Tools! Road names! Thickness of glass! Parts of Engines! Exact dates! Other people’s names! Other people’s children’s names! The necessity of my job! Any plans further in the future than hometime! The fact that I’m no longer as often on fire as I used to be! Remembering occasionally to respire!) anything other than mundane will often result in my taking a trip down childish snigger lane; all very immature and occasionally problematic. Problematic due to the fact that when I’m on one my regular mental getaways, other people will continue with their grown-up adult lives and often they don’t appreciate my smirking away at what they consider to be very important and very un-laughable-at (I don’t doubt their sincerity; adult life is stuffed with the gills with the horrid, the unpleasant and the un-humorous. It gives me the willies, it really does). I don’t necessarily want to tell them that I was giggling at the fact that their nipples are visibly sticking out to a ridiculous degree, or that I was having an internal debate on the morality of surgically removing steak from the cow without killing it (probably wrong, but that much wronger than actually killing it and eating bits of its corpse?), so I have devised a omni-answer (pan-answer?)for the dangerous questions that periodically arise.
I apologise and tell people that I was thinking of a chapter of my childhood that was very funny. This may seem like an obvious solution, but the fact it now my constant go-to answer leaves me with lots of wriggle room (the obvious downside is that working with the same people every day may result in my telling this story many times, resulting in my colleagues thinking it was not a happy childhood memory, but a distorting, traumatising event that has scarred my psyche, and subsequently I can no longer smile without recalling it, so hideously warped is my inner-life. But I think that’s something that we can all learn to live with), and my immediate reaction time will verify its potential verisimilitude. Also the story is genuinely funny, and being told a funny childhood story is balm for all but the most awfully upset people, and I am therefore often forgiven (but occasionally removed from invite lists and thought of as ‘that bastard’).
I invite all you fellow smirkers and gigglers out there to employ a similar strategy. Being able to divert people away from your crippling personality defects has surely got to be more emotionally healthy than identifying and dealing with them in a professional environment. If you have no particular childhood memory that you would like to revisit regularly for others, then feel free to use mine (providing the context fits – if you were born in a vastly different era than me, some might ponder why your childhood includes historically inaccurate leisure time activities, and then you’ll have been rumbled for not only smirking out of line, but also for poo-pooing the rumbling and then lying about the reasons for the unwarranted joviality. And that is a sticky situation that you are unlikely to get unstuck from, and I can’t help you there. Honestly I can’t I’m much to busy with spread sheets and button pressing; you’re on your own old chum), but also feel free to re-examine your early life, it sounds like it wasn’t much fun.
Anyway, with too much further ado (what the fuck is ‘ado’? Can one have ‘ado’ without it being further? Are the only words allowed to precede it ‘further’ and ‘agg’ (one for all you Black Lace fans out there)), my smirking subterfuge story;
There was an early (it came on cassette and took several seasons to load) computer game called Frogger, or maybe Hopper (my patchy memory tells me that our version was called Frogger, so it will stay that way for the rest of this story). In it, you controlled a blocky green frog with the keyboard’s arrow keys, guiding it up from the bottom of the screen, across a duel carriageway full of moving traffic, avoiding a squishy death before getting to the safe verge in the middle of the screen. You then jumped from across the backs of turtles and crocodiles and floating logs to avoid the waters of a confusingly currented river, and try tto get it home safe to one of several frog nests (burrows? Lillypads?) on the opposite river bank at the top of the screen. You did this with five or six frogs until all the safe houses were full and then took a few years sabbatical whilst it loaded the next level – exactly the same but with faster traffic and aquatic creatures/debris. This carried on until you or the frog was dead – I never found out what really happened because eventually the 90s would dawn on us and we had to prepare for the coming of the Gallagher Brothers and Whigfield and Friends and Tony Blair, and we couldn’t possibly do that whilst waiting for a obsolete computer game to load almost entirely identical levels.
We would play this game occasionally as a family, and sometimes bring it out when we had guests. One day, my Uncle John and Big Auntie Joan* and various cousins arrived, and we played Frogger (having begun loading it in the late sixties when my parents met). Uncle John (remember Uncle John? Looked like the sexy one of the Bushwackers) eventually proved himself to be a courageous and swift fingered frog controller as he managed to evade the trucks and cars in the lower screen portion of the game, and land safely on the verge, ready for the next challenge. The events of which, and his impassioned and, in hindsight, logical response were perhaps the greatest and most hilarious outcrying that I, and perhaps any young boy, had ever heard. It kept me chuckling all the way through primary and secondary school. I can still get a slight chuckle out of it to this day. He steadied himself for the river portion of the amphibian challenge, and confidently jumped the frog into the water where it immediately died. His response?
“I THOUGHT FROGS COULD FUCKING WELL SWIM!”
* Names have been changed to protect, well, me.