Anyone remember that SNL skit about Happy Fun Ball™, that marvellous device that was happy, fun, yet surprisingly dangerous? On the surface, everything was hunky dory. It was everything you were looking for in a toy. It brought back the collective memory of 1950's America, clean, happy, with Everything In It's Place. There were just some stipulations, addendum, and quid pro quos that one had to obey to avoid nasty, random consequences (like, say, nuclear holocaust).
I firmly believe there are many Happy Fun Balls in the world. Not literally mind you (barring any that might be in possession of the darker parts of the US Government), just people that make you realize Happy Fun Ball was a very real universal metaphor.
There you are, trying to appear to be enjoying yourself at the latest Adult Forced Socialization Event -- be it work or a strata meeting or Block Watch -- and suddenly you find yourself talking to a really optimistic, shiny happy bright guy. He dresses like the hipper portions of the Sears catalogue (which are just not overtly square), he talks with an oddly clean sense of humour and a cheery outlook on life.
You wonder, perhaps too late, why no one else is chatting with this positive chap that makes Mary Poppins look like a five dollar crack whore cornering you behind the Bob's Rifles, Liquor and Adult Magazine Store (only because, hey, you thought you and your boys could stand to finish off another forty of Gray Goose, and this part of town isn't that bad) with a crooked smile, a broken bottle, and skin that looks like she might have had intimate relations with a sand blaster.
You catch out of the corner of your eye, the other people at the gathering giving you furtive, pitying glances. Like you are a fluffy bunny caught in the jaws of a long forgotten bear trap. Others look at you with a grim satisfaction, as if they were in your place not too long ago, and still bear the scars.
Time slows. Your mind -- the part that asks no questions and takes things at face value, the part that suckers you into buying a lottery ticket when the jackpot is some obscene number -- is quite happy to have found someone so energetic and so positive. So much better than the disaffected youth of, well, pretty much every era since man could feel disaffectation. What a gold mine! Why can't we all be as positive as this great guy! Bursting with verve and positivity! You might even make a silent promise to yourself to be more like this person, every day! Every day is a new day! A rebirth! A day to be born again! From the coursing rivers of blood.
Somewhere between talking about the unreasonable cost of vinyl siding and the generally accepted fact that politicians are grand lacerny artists with a gift for public speaking, he's caught you. That snapping sound is the wearied gears of the long forgotten bear trap springing into action.
The look of pity from the rest of the people is palpable now.
Luckily you can't dwell on those looks too much. You are busy thinking of every single socially acceptable reason to turn down this fellow's invitation to his group or church or really fantastic direct marketing opportunity. Something not too obvious, something that hasn't been repeated a thousand times. All the while firm in the notion that he has a quick and stunning counter-argument should your excuse be predictable enough.
Think fast now. Think hard.
And remember, do not taunt Happy Fun Ball™.