How to fake a better mood, Tampa Bay!
The way forward involves exclamation points!
[ Shutterstock ]
Published Oct. 6

It’s time to wheel in a banana bag of artificial delight! Here, put this IV in your arm! No, it’s sterile, promise!

It has been a terrible couple weeks! Emotions rampant, nerves frayed, anxiety at an all-time high! Really, so many people are miserable! Maybe you are doing what you can to help with Hurricane Ian trauma and still feel like hot, unworthy garbage!

There’s only one way forward, and that is to force a good mood! To acknowledge the awkwardness! And — this should be obvious by now — to use too many exclamation points! Just a toxic amount!!! That’s right, this writing will contain an exclamation point in each sentence, possibly multiple!

By making every sentence sound happy, we will fool ourselves into being happy! It is science! This will annoy some of you to the point of subscription cancellation, but that is in God’s hands!

Certainly you feel sad, and then you feel bad for feeling sad when others are more sad, and that turns into a bad-sad combination called... BASAD! But experts say that to climb out of BASADNESS you must do something, anything, to occupy the mind and body!

The weather has cooled off a bit! This week’s humidity, which slides on a scale like the federal terror alert system, is pleasant! That means we’ve entered pavement-pounding season! Time to lace up those old, musty sneakers and hit the old, dusty trail! Time to smile and avoid eye contact like you are in the cast of “Don’t Worry Darling” at a contractually obligated red carpet event!

The cool breeze and huggy sun are a perfect place to begin! Before you know it, you will have traveled 10,000 steps and stared out to sea like noble Abigail waiting for distant Nathanial to return from war! Except, like, if Abigail was calculating the cost of flood insurance!

Maybe that sounds like too much work, which, fair! How about eating instead?! Open the grill! Slap meat on that grill and pretend you know how to use that grill! That’s right, light the whole chicken thigh in tongues of propane fire! The outside should be black and the inside should be cold and raw, just like your soul on a day that ends in Y! Do you smell that? It’s fear!

No! We must get busy living! Yes, guilt dissolves joie de vivre, as does monitoring tropical activity in the Caribbean through Nov. 30! Haha! Um!

But given our region’s unique cyclical doom, we must not postpone joy! Consider a round of gentle gardening amid these fine temperatures! Yank out that buttonweed and crabgrass like you are yanking out the deep, internal hole that only heaping spoons of Jif creamy topped with a smattering of chocolate chips can fill!

Light a fall candle! No, not that one! That one smells like damp rags and nutmeg! That one! There! The vanilla cookie one! See how happy?! See how it hides the burned chicken smell?!

Things are going to be strange for a while, and then they will be less strange, and then they will inevitably be strange again! We can only control ourselves, relishing glimmers of bliss when we are lucky enough to have them! Got it?! We can fake it till we make it, and that’s final!!

Spend your days with Hayes

Spend your days with Hayes

Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter

Columnist Stephanie Hayes will share thoughts, feelings and funny business with you every Monday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options


Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes

Get Stephanie’s newsletter

For weekly bonus content and a look inside columns by Stephanie Hayes, sign up for the free Stephinitely newsletter.

Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Ian coverage

HOW TO HELP: Where to donate or volunteer to help Hurricane Ian victims.

FEMA: Floridians hurt by Ian can now apply for FEMA assistance. Here’s how.

THE STORM HAS PASSED: Now what? Safety tips for returning home.

POST-STORM QUESTIONS: After Hurricane Ian, how to get help with fallen trees, food, damaged shelter.

WEATHER EFFECTS: Hurricane Ian was supposed to slam Tampa Bay head on. What happened?

MORE STORM COVERAGE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.


This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge