Teflon People

Teflon Frying Pan Human Egg Party

In conversation with a friend recently I heard the most delightful phrase. He was describing people who perpetually give off a sense that everything is just great, everything is wonderful, life couldn’t be better. They are forever regaling you with tales (and Facebook updates) of how nifty their weekend was, what a fantastic day they are currently having, or how much they are looking forward to next weekend and trying out the sure-to-be delicious hors d’oeuvres at that new place downtown. They nod, smile broadly, and disarm everything you say (positive or negative) with a quip or witticism.

Try to share a moment of fragility, doubt, or misgiving with such a person, and it simply bounces off them with nary a hint that you ever dared to be so weak.

These are the “Teflon People”.

We all know these people: the ones who make your face ache with all the smiling you do around them; the folks whose Instagram feeds are a torrent of one social event after another; anyone who uses the hashtag #sorrynotsorry.

It’s as if these people have never experienced a day of vulnerability, never accepted that having weaknesses might not be a mark against them. Life’s too grand to bother with negative emotions. And you, with your grumpy complaints and petty thoughts are just not believing in yourself enough, just not seizing the day as spectacularly as you should, nay, as you are entitled to do. If only you would shut up and join the party everything would be just great.

Teflon, incidentally, is a brand name for polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE), a substance to which nothing will stick.

If nothing sticks, nothing accumulates, and therefore nothing changes.

I don’t know about you, but my life is sticky. I get annoyed with my wife (and she with me). I misread work-related emails and respond inappropriately. I do my best to avoid emotional traps, then fall into them anyway. No amount of Teflon behavior is ever going to make me forget just how flawed or downright stupid (did I mention the work-related email?) I can be.

I ask you, Teflon Person, is your life secretly sticky too?

When you arrive home after a long day, close the door and kick off your shoes, does your face do that wonderful collapse, muscles relinquishing their daily hold on quotidian pleasantry? Does your jaw slacken, eyes droop, lungs fill with the first honest breath of the day?

What would happen, Teflon Person, if you let down your guard?

The alternative to Teflon isn’t, as you might worry, being an angry miserable bastard. As if when not being Teflon one is in fact deeply sad and despondent, utterly dejected and full of rage. That is not the case. Ones emotional world is not governed by extremes, where you are either “Great” or “Terrible”. In fact, most of our daily lives are somewhere in the middle, a wash of ordinariness that is neither “Great” or “Terrible”, but simply “Meh”. Such is routine and it is a lovely thing.

If rage is what is underneath all your Teflon, though, then perhaps removing some of it would allow you to release some of that pent up frustration and find you way to a more balanced “Meh”.

I know, “Meh” doesn’t make for a self-congratulatory tweet or Selfie moment. But “Meh” is at least honest. And that honesty should be celebrated openly, not jealously guarded and shielded from the world.

Is there hope, Teflon Person, that you might heed my invitation to join the rest of us living here in reality?

What is that you say?   No, I didn’t see your Evite to the craft beer tasting event at the artist loft. Sure, I’d love to go, except I got laid off, my tooth needs a crown, my car started smelling like rotten fish, and I think the rash on my backside might just be boils. Ok, cool. I’ll see you there.

4 thoughts on “Teflon People

  1. David harris

    Also. There are many people out there who are blissfully happy. These people do exist. When things get tough, they look at the glass half full and that usually suffices. I have no issues with that. Not really.

  2. David harris

    Good blog

    However, I’m not a big fan of Meh. I don’t think meh is a lovely thing hence, meh! Even though that’s usually the case with most, some find it hard to get through the day, the week , the month, the year and ultimately through this short life without forcefully trying to grasp at every opportunity to relish and praise everything that is going on with them. I don’t think these people have a choice any more than you do to deal with life. Everyone does it in their own way and that has a lot to do with (if not entirely) brain chemistry.

    Moreover, some people don’t have the same strength to deal with problems the way many do, and unless they talk themselves into thinking it’s all wonderful they will lose their mind.

    And as much as I too can’t stomach the over positivity of some, I constantly ask myself why this does bug me.

    Am I genuinely worried for their mental well being , or do I myself, want some of that too and deep down inside envy it.

    Would be interested to see how these folks you talk about respond to your blog. If they dare!

  3. Seth Hill

    Mischa, your thoughts are wonderful.
    My mother always said, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.” (An old well-worn maxim) Except her saying that was not exactly good.
    Like you, I am sometimes very happy, sometimes angry or sad, and most of the time in the middle. However, I would not describe the middle as “Meh.” It’s hard to describe, but the middle feels something like powerful, or alive, or moving.
    – Seth

  4. Chris McKee

    Eww! Your life is “meh?”

    Mine toggles between an anxious “enh! enh! enh!”, a cocky “oh yeah baby!”, an obvious “thank god for chocolate,” a fuzzy, inappropriate love for the plants that are thriving in my garden, and a driving-and-collaboration-based “Goddamned M*********ers!”

    ; )c


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