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Interview with Happy from FROWN by Sonyo Estavillo

Happy’s Interview

Are you married? In a serious relationship? Leaving your options open?

Married…uh…hell no. I’m one of those thirty-something men who’ve never quite tied the knot or committed to anything serious. While some people might call it “commitment issues” – I call it – “I come from a dysfunctional family.” Hey, when in doubt as a failed adult, blame your parents and childhood. After Ma left when Donnie and I were young, it sort of cursed our relationships with women.

Alright, so there is Beatriz. God she’s gorgeous and smart and sweet. It’s weird because she was like a goofy little sister growing up. And now, she’s all grown up. I didn’t realize I’d find her turquois hair color and extra-terrestrial taste sexy in an unconventional way. Given that I’m so lanky and ordinary and unappealing and hairy and…have I said ordinary yet? I see the way she looks at me, and my stomach turns in this unusual way. Get this, she not into Bradford?! Like, my best friend who looks like a super model. Who isn’t into Brad? Short answer—no one. I don’t get that one at all. Total head-trip. When Beatriz is around—I’m not explaining it right—but she makes me feel…odd. I find myself wondering what it would be like if I allowed myself to let her break me out of my shell.

Do you own a house? Move around? Crash on couches?

Being a cultural anthropologist, I travel a lot and live around the world in developing countries for years on end. So, I tend to rent. I’m mobile. I just got back from rural India and lately I’ve been crashing on my best friend’s couch.

Okay, technically I’m homeless despite the fact that my father is the Gordie O’Brien. The wealthy business mogul everyone loves to hate.

What’s your biggest secret? What’s the biggest secret you’re kept for others?

It’s not really a secret, but my real name is Liam, and yet I’ve been called Happy all my life. The irony of all ironies. What I don’t tell many people, other than my closest friends (that already know) – I’ve never quite been – happy. All my life, I’ve strived to live up to my nickname and have failed miserably. It could be partly be due to the fact that I’ve never once smiled. Ever. Yes, I mean that quite literally.

What’s your earliest memory? Good/Bad? What would you change?

My earliest memory is finding out what sex was when I caught my dad having relations with another woman in the bed he shared with Ma. It was really gross and yeah, traumatic when you’re like eight-years-old. I never told my little brother Donnie about it. He’d die if I’d told him. Donnie’s always been way too much of a nervous wreck. Some things are better left unsaid. That was the turning point; the moment changed our family for good. It wasn’t long after that, that Ma left. She said she was running to the store during our annual summer fishing trip, and well, she never came back.

If I could change anything, I would’ve gone with her. Actually, I take that back. I could never leave Donnie behind. If I could change one thing, I would’ve stopped blaming her and Dad for my perceived failures in my adult life. I’d have forgiven them both long ago.

Who’s your best friend? How did you meet? Memory that makes you laugh?

Bradford! Brad is my complete opposite. He’s so good looking; he seriously doesn’t have a human perceptible flaw, externally at least. Trust me if you saw him, you’d totally agree. Listen, he’s not just uber attractive. Bradford is actually one of the most positive people I know. We’ve known each other all our lives because our families ran in the same wealthy social circles. The millionaire-club I’ve since detested as an adult. And while I don’t really laugh or smile, I do get a kick out of making Brad laugh. My bro has the craziest booming laugh that stops everyone in their place. The real kicker—and I don’t get it—but he claims I’m “hilarious.” I can’t be sure; it could be my dead-pan delivery?

What’s most memorable is hearing him burst into one of his ruckus chortles, hoping one day I might do the same. The truth is, I look up to my best friend and not because of what he looks like but because he makes happiness seem so effortless.

Do you have a bad habit? How long have you tried to break it…or not?

My not being able to smile is the closest to a bad habit because it’s affected not so much my professional world, but my personal life. A neurological condition has been the reason why I can’t grin, but truthfully it’s something that I’ve tried to overcome my entire life. If I could simply smile, maybe I wouldn’t be so afraid of intimacy.

No, smiling isn’t a magic wand. But—I don’t know—maybe I’d feel more normal? Maybe I’d feel more confident and less afraid? Maybe for once, I’d fit in and feel more human and less of disorder. Maybe, I’d feel less flawed.

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