I was walking home from the city today, runners on my feet and ipod playing in my ears. It’s a good zone to travel in, and when Pink starts singing “Na na na na na na na na na na na na” I almost skip along. Walking, breathing, heading home, life is good.

3 smiles per hour?

Then a roadside sign, that stopped me in my tracks.

“You are now entering a 3 smiles per hour zone”

What? You’re kidding me. I don’t quite believe it.

Three smiles per hour?

Staring, I feel a thwack of emotions hit all at once.

I don’t know whether to puke, scoff, or shrug. My initial laugh of surprise dies down and anger rises, as do tears – rising to the brim but not spilling. I’m humiliated, the sign is so cheery and condescending, with it’s bright message. A lot of things all at once.

Someone must be kidding. What is the intent of this sign? To put smiles our cute little dials? Not one but three smiles an hour – and why stop at three? Am I accused of being too smiley in an hour?

What’s going on?

I want to click my heels together and be lifted up and whisked home. I want to hide for a while curled up in a blanket, safe, with my little dog, and hidden from the world. I feel I could simply bawl and bawl and bawl…

One of Michael Leunig’s poem rans through my head “They took him on a stretcher to the Home for the Appalled where he lay down in a corner and he bawled and bawled and bawled.

‘There’s nothing wrong with me,’ he wailed, when asked about his bawling, ‘It’s the world that need attention; It’s so utterly appalling. It’s so utterly appalling,’ he sobbed and cried and bawled, and the chorus rose to join him at the Home for the Appalled.”

I was utterly appalled, and Michael Leunig’s wry take on the world allowed to clear my head with a dismissive snort and walk on. Pink singing “I’m alright, I’m just fine. I’m gonna show you tonight. I’m alright….“.