Embrace Whatever Makes You Happy (Even If It’s Totally Weird)

I wished I loved anything in the world as much as my current foster dog loves this one janky, busted-ass tennis ball.

Mocha has a plethora of toys at his disposal, including several he’s gutted in a spree of delightful destruction that have since been retired to the trash can. But I can’t trash this ball, because for some reason, in spite of its having lost nearly every trait that makes a tennis ball entertaining, it’s still his absolute favorite toy in the world.

At first, its appeal made sense: Mocha wants to play, Mocha gets the tennis ball and brings it to us, we throw the tennis ball into the hall, he retrieves it and the whole thing starts over again. Sometimes we throw it in one direction and it bounces into the bedroom. Sometimes we throw it in another and it caroms into the kitchen. Thrown at full speed, it can lead a dog that’s chasing it across pretty much the entire length of our tiny little house. Whether I’m working or watching TV with the husband, this game is something we can play with Mocha ad nauseam, which is merciful because Mocha has some serious bursts of energy and our two senior dogs are not down with being his roughhousing buddy.

But the tennis ball is no longer what it once was.


In addition to its service as exercise tool, it’s also played the role of chew toy when we’re not available for fetch games, and as such it’s been slowly and methodically stripped of all of its fuzz in several mysterious grooming sessions. A few especially emphatic chomps split the ball straight down the middle about a week ago, so it now hangs open by one last, tenuous seam like a clam that’s been stepped on. When we throw it now — which Mocha still insists we do — the ball no longer bounces and caroms delightfully down the hall and into various rooms at a speed that invites happy chasing. It just kind of thunk-womp-womp-wobbles to a spot a few feet away and then lies there like a slug.

Mocha still dutifully runs after it, as much as he can in the few feet it’s rolled, then turns tail and brings it back to us so we can toss it again. When he gets tired, he lies down and continues to meticulously destroy it just a teensy bit more.

I totally don’t get it, but I don’t really need to. He gets it, and he clearly thinks it’s awesome, and that’s good enough for me. In this — as in so many things I won’t get into because I am a crazy dog lady and could talk about lessons our dogs teach us for forever — I believe there’s something we can learn from our four-legged friends.


In Defense of the Things That Make Us Happy Weirdos

Much like Mocha’s sorry-looking tennis ball, we all have things we love that other people are somewhat mystified by. But unlike Mocha’s unabashed enthusiasm for an object the rest of us see as questionable, we tend to keep our unusual loves a secret only we (and possibly a few close friends who already know what weirdos we really are) know about.

Whether it’s a love for an unconventional hobby, an un-hip band or a cheesy reality TV show, most of us try to keep our stranger passions to ourselves. If we indulge in them, we do it behind closed curtains and behind the facade of the more acceptable, cooler interests we present to the world at large.

But here’s the thing: everyone else in the world at large is secretly a weirdo, too. (Tweet!)

That super-poised colleague who intimidates you at work? She psyches herself up before big meetings by listening to Katy Perry’s “Roar” on her earbuds in a stall in the bathroom.

That hipster friend who sneers at anyone who has anything to do with mainstream culture? He has a secret collection of Walker, Texas Ranger DVDs — and he doesn’t watch them ironically.

That Crossfitting, Paleo-proselytizing sister of yours has had a secret addiction since she was a kid, one she still dips into when she’s had a particularly rough day: Cap’n-Crunch-and-Pixy-Stix sandwiches, smushed together just the way she saw Ally Sheedy do it on The Breakfast Club, where she first picked up the habit.

None of us is a 100% “normal” human being, because “normalcy” is a shadow term that means, at best, “what most people tend to do (as far as you can tell), which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good or bad, just that most people tend to do it (as far as you can tell).”

So screw your secret shame over your oddball hobbies, habits, loves and fandoms. Screw feeling embarrassed about the things you think only you “get.” Because as long as you “get” them, then they are awesome, and that is all that really matters.

What weird things make YOU secretly happy?

(I’ll get it started: I love juggling sock balls while folding the laundry, dancing like a fool to any form of old skool hip hop, and sniffing the tops of my dogs’ heads the way normal people sniff babies’ heads (which, let’s be honest, isn’t any more “normal” than sniffing a dog).)

Image:  Pink Sherbet Photography / Flickr

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  • Cordelia’s Mom

    Years ago, I was told a story by a local female attorney who had gone to work out at her favorite gym. On the day in question, she noticed that a well-known, very stolid female judge had also just entered the changing room. The attorney was absolutely shocked when the judge undressed to her skivvies – which consisted of leopard print bikini panties and push-up bra. Those judge’s robes hide that part of one’s personality quite well, don’t they?

  • Pingback: Weird things that make me happy • hellomelissa.net()

  • I’m reading this after I’ve just got back from freaking Madrid to see my favorite band. Needless to say: I couldn’t agree more! 😉

  • God I love this so much. Hello, fellow weirdos! 😀

  • I just discovered your site a few days ago; I’ve enjoyed reading through some of your past posts and your Quits.

    I was especially interested when I found out you live in Buffalo! I moved here almost two years ago with my husband (he grew up here, then moved to DC in his mid-20s, which is where we met). We lived downtown for a while, then bought a house in Kenmore last November.

    I’m impressed with the way you decided you wanted to work for yourself and made that happen systematically over time. I’ve worked in mostly admin-type jobs my entire career — I have no desire to move up or be a manager. I’d love to work from home, but as you know, it’s easy to coast along with a job that doesn’t require much from you, rather than constantly having to hustle and find new work as a freelancer. We also get our health insurance through my employer; even though my husband makes more than I do, I work for a larger company with better/cheaper health coverage. So that’s one of many factors I’d have to consider if I left my job.

    I turn 35 next week and don’t have any kids — I noticed you’ve written about this subject a few times. I’m not adamantly anti-kid, but both my husband and I agree it’s not the right time for us (and maybe it never will be). I’m okay with that. I wrote more here if you’re interested: http://www.zandria.us/archives/main/2015/04/20/im-35-dont-know-if-want-baby/

    Looking forward to reading more!

    • Hey Zandria! We’re over in Cheektowaga. I spent some time growing up in Kenmore and it’s lovely.

      Stepping into the self-employment sphere systematically is definitely the method I recommend to anyone looking to make the leap. Especially when you have a husband, mortgage, dogs, etc. to take care of, it allows you to test the waters and build some footing to make the transition as less-scary as possible. Paying for health insurance out of pocket was definitely one of the biggest hits we had to acclimate to, esp. since my husband has fibromyalgia, so he’s not working AND he has ridiculous medical bills. Luckily, we’re able to claim a deduction on our taxes each year because we pay so much ourselves, so that’s something.

      I totally get your ambivalence (if that’s the right word, which I suspect it’s not) over having a kid. There are plenty of times I find myself a little sorry we’ll never have one, most strongly at Christmastime, which has always been my favorite holiday and which just isn’t the same with only two adults in the house. I’m sad I’ll never get to pass on all my family’s traditions and relive the magic through a kid’s eyes. But times like that are relatively few and far between, and overall I know with absolute certainty that our life is right the way it is now and that motherhood isn’t for me. Whichever way you or your husband decide to go or not go, I hope it brings you tons of peace, joy and happiness. 🙂

  • dpants5150

    This post reminds me of the phrase “guilty pleasure” which I related to music a lot. “What’s your guilty pleasure song/band?” I used to have some, but then I realized, screw that, I just like what I like. No reason for guilt. People aren’t paying attention/judging as much as we think they are. No one cares, really. You do you.