Eva Bradley: Liberating own bit of Jekyll and Hyde

By Eva Bradley

Sorry, people, but I'm just not feeling it today. I know for some I'm your token Saturday morning funny fix while you digest the dire and depressing front page news along with your scrambled eggs, but funny people get out of bed on the wrong side too, you know.

And some days they probably shouldn't get out at all.

I'll admit that the regrettably large quantity of wine that went down at a friend's hen's night may have contributed to today's scowl and for this fact I have no one to blame but myself.

But it did get me thinking about the expectations we all have that various people in our lives (including those we connect with only via a newspaper once a week) will fit into a tidy little box from which they shall not stray.

My public persona (and largely my private one, too) is to be that entertaining chick who looks at life with her tongue in her cheek and a pinch of salt in her hand. Being happy and having a laugh is what I do, who I am and who I'm expected to be.

What do people expect of you?

And what happens when you don't give it to them?

Last week I felt liberated hearing how some people simply don't like the way I write and this week I'm taking the theme a little further by asking what happens when we stop, even for a day, fitting the box we are expected to stay in.

It would be a marvellously satisfying and interesting social experiment to go about my day acting how I am actually feeling (grumpy, monosyllabic and aggressive) instead of the way I am expected to be (amusing and verbose).

Just once I'd love to respond to "how is your day going?" with "it's absolutely shite, how 'bout yours?".

I'd love to experience what it felt like to be the rude and difficult customer at the service station for once, the wedding photographer who snaps during drawn-out family photos instead of smiling patiently, or the girlfriend who is angry and difficult instead of sweetness and light (although my boyfriend may argue I try that one on rather regularly, actually).

What happens when Rhys Darby and his ilk want to be taken seriously and go to the opera or the ballet with their hair slicked back, a whiff of debonair and a dash of sophistication in place of the goof and glasses?

Do we all feel cheated that the one-dimensional stereotype has vanished?

We've all (mostly) come to like the way John Key throws in a wildly inappropriate and distinctly un-politician-like joke now and again, but what happens when famously boring people like Reserve Bank governors or accountants want to crack a funny and just can't because it isn't what we want or expect of them?

Today, my hangover and I have decided to give convention and expectation the one-fingered salute. I'm in a foul mood and you and the guy making my quadruple-shot coffee can just deal with it, capiche?

And while you're doing that, how about liberating your own little bit of Jekyll and Hyde? Embrace the freedom that comes from being the person you're not (normally) and delight in showing those that (think they) know you another (darker) side.

If life and its conventions require us to fit inside the box we've built around ourselves, the least we can do is sneak a toe outside it now and again just to keep things fresh. It's an interesting thought. Not a funny one.

And for that I make no apology.

Eva Bradley is an award-winning columnist.

- Northern Advocate

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