A lot of my progressive friends talk about how we need a more sex-positive culture. One of my friends gave me a button that said just that this week: Sex +. It’s a big deal to a lot of people. You know what’s a big deal to me? Excitement. I think we need a more excitement-positive culture.
I was waiting for a bus earlier this week during a stormy day, happy and excited in the bus stop shelter where I was out of the rain. I was heading out of the suburbs and into the city in order to go have dinner with a friend-in-the-making. I was also thinking about this new science-fiction story that I’ve been dreaming about and rounding out for the past week or so. Suffice to say, I was delighted. The bus was late, but I was running ahead of schedule. My smart phone was charged, but I was happy in my own head. It was raining, but I was dry.
And then someone else showed up at the bus stop.
He tried to start a conversation with me while we waited for the bus, but it was near-painful…and I’m an extrovert! I usually love talking to strangers and making “single-serving-friends” on airplanes and other moments of travel. This guy though. He just didn’t get me.
I tried to contain my excitement, I really did. I kept a relatively “calm and contented” expression on my face unless I was sure he wasn’t looking at me. Then I burst into euphoric grinning. I slipped up though and accidentally let a joy-squealing noise escape me. It’s hard to hide your excitement, especially when you burn as much energy as I do enduring the enthusiasm in the first place.
He looked over and at first asked, “Are you cold?”
Which of course I wasn’t. I was bundled up cozy in my favorite, femme fatale trench coat…which was one more thing for me to be happy about. I hoped if I was honest and brief, he’d leave me alone: “No, I’m just excited.”
And then he asked me what I was excited about.
This is exactly why we need an excitement-positive culture. I don’t always have something to be excited about! What was I supposed to tell him? That I’d just mentally choreographed a sci-fi chase scene through an imaginary city? That I had moved up from Palo Alto and was still getting used to the wonderful smell and sight of Seattle rain again? It’s not that I mind the question (I think it’s great to share good things and great news with people!) but I don’t like the assumption and social pressure it puts on me to have a reason for my excitement. If I’d just yelled “LIFE!” at him like I wanted to, it still would have been dishonest because it wasn’t even that I was excited about my life or living…it was just an abstract emotion I was happy to let run its course through me. Plus, yelling “LIFE!” at him probably would have just made him feel weird and awkward.
So, I fudged and said that I was excited about going into the city since I was having dinner with a friend.
“Have you not seen each other in a long time?”
Why is it so surreal to think I would just be happy and excited to go see a friend? As a point of fact, I’d seen her about a week ago at a party, and it was only the second time I’d encountered her (the first being two years previous for a few hours on Valentines Day.) She was a friend-in-the-making. I was delighted to know someone wanted to spend time with me, someone cool and interesting who had every quality of a great conversationalist and good person.
“No,” I told him, “We’re actually just getting to know each other.”
“Oh, cool Do you know where you’re going out to dinner?”
Then I explained that I was going over to her place, and she was going to cook dinner. This did not bode well for him.
“OH. I thought you meant a date, now I feel like an idiot,” he mumbled, obviously embarrassed as he then tried to stumble back over his words and remove any offensive in the event that I did have a date, just with a woman.
Fortunately the bus the came then and we never had to say another word to each other.
In a perfect world, that scenario would have gone a little differently. I would have been able to squirm with delight right in front of him and not worry about him seeing me. When his friendliness manifested, the progression of questions would have gone more like this:
“You look excited!”
“That’s cool, any reason why?”
And then we would have delved into a conversation about the myriad of things about life that make it reasonable to be continuously excited within your miracle of human consciousness.
That’s what an excitement-positive culture would look like.