Once upon a time, there was a young woman. She was a happy, if thoughtful, creature. A jolly, if jaded, city soul. One Thursday night, she went on a date with her husband, a handsome man whom she simply adored. They picked a small bistro. Settled into a small table for two. They perused the paper menu and nibbled on fresh bread. They smiled at each other over the flickering candle between them.
They talked and laughed about life and love and learning. About the subtle shifting of seasons. When the time came, this young woman dug into her crab salad with peppers, a dish colorful and spry. He tasted his lamb and declared it delicious. And then this young woman started talking about something she rarely discussed; her writing. She talked about her new protagonist, a smart young woman with issues. This woman's husband did something at which he was singularly skilled: he listened. And they discussed this character. Her childhood scars. Her curious academic fetishes. Her sexual blocks.
And this young woman, this writer, was thrilled when her man spoke up. Asking questions. Offering ideas of his own. This man helped her create; making this character come to life in that tiny bistro. But then. He said something. Something little, but pointed. Something intelligent, but critical too. And this young woman put down her fork.
In mere moments, this woman's mood soured. Her words departed. She looked down at the napkin in her lap, so white, so blank, so stiff, no longer hungry. Her husband apologized. They vowed to talk about something else, but silence ensued. That flame flickered between them. And, in a soft voice, she apologized too. For sliding down, and away. For being so sensitive. For everything.
They paid the check. Walked into the night. Inched block by block toward home. I wish I could do something to snap out of this, she said. Her man nodded. A short time later, she felt better. Silly again. She grabbed her man's hand and skipped beside him. His hand, though, was limp. She looked at his face, his eyes. And she saw what she had done. She had made him plunge too. Into that place. That bad place of blah.
She apologized again, her words sincere. He told her over and over that it was okay. That he was fine. They walked along, hands swinging, not touching. At home, they surrendered to the couch. In time, the fog lifted from them both. Their fingers laced, they watched a television program. Their smiles came back.
Okay, that woman was me. Shocker, I know!
But this happened, this little something. Just last night. And this morning, I said to husband: Is it okay if I blog about bad moods? He said: Sure. We talked about last night, about how miserable I was in those moments, about how that misery was short-lived, but utterly yucky and contagious. Husband said something interesting. He said that he is immune to other people's moods; that mine are the only ones that really affect him. I chose to view this as sweet instead of sinister. I chose to see this as a sign that we are unbelievably tight and that if I am sad, he is too because he cares so much and feels so close.
I don't know. But I am sitting here in my yoga pants and bedhead wondering about bad moods and whether they can be cured before they spread and infect others. Whether there is something I could have done in that quaint restaurant to treat my momentary malaise. Just now, I did what any savvy modern soul would do. I Googled "bad mood." The first search result was an article from Real Simple magazine called Banish a Bad Mood in 15 Minutes. Yay! I clicked.
And then I laughed. Because the article tells us that we can pull ourselves out of a funk with three simple steps: (1) Decode your mood! (2) Calm down!; and (3) Create a Strategy! I had zero tolerance for this article. I felt, and immediately, an aversion to the prescriptive strategy it offered for everyday blues. I guess I think that bad moods happen and that we just need to wait them out. (Or eat a cupcake. Yum.)
I don't know. Maybe I should really go back and read that article. Maybe it contains true pearls that will come in handy on my next date night when my mood threatens to dive. Perhaps I need to be more open-minded. Or maybe I shouldn't talk about my writing. Maybe the material is just too raw, too delicate, too fragile. Again, I don't know.
I do know though that I am now fixated on the question of moods, on whether they are truly transmittable, and even more so between partners. Are good moods equally contagious? Let's hope so because this morning I'm feeling quite perky. I'm going to go throw my arms around my man, maybe tickle him a bit, shower him with my silliness.
We'll see what happens...
Dear Husband, Thank you for tolerating me and loving me, marvelous mood swings and all.
- Do you ever unexpectedly slide into bad moods?
- Have you ever given someone else your bad mood? Have you ever fallen into a bad mood because of someone else?
- Do you think bad moods are particularly contagious between romantic partners?
- Are bad moods and good moods equally contagious or are germs of malaise more powerful?
- Do you ever discuss your writing with others? Are you sensitive about your material?
- Do you think we can follow steps to banish bad moods or are you skeptical like I am?
- Do you think moods are contagious through the screen? If you read a post from someone who is up or down, do you then feel better or worse, respectively?
- What do you do to combat bad moods? (Come on! Share your tricks. This post could end up being very helpful for us all!)