On Being Happy, Joyous, and Free and OJ Simpson

“My life is happy, joyous, and free!”.  Not my words, they belonged to a genuinely happy-looking man seated near me the other day. His words gave me pause.  It was as if he was speaking a different language, describing a land I had moved away from long ago. Not to say I feel unhappy, dolorous, and trapped. That’s too extreme. I liked the sentiment of his exclamation, and upon mental review, I actually have one of those three.  The other two though… well, “happy” is a relative term. Since moving to Dallas, I’ve had several enjoyable and happy hours getting to know new friends and also when old friends come to visit.  I’m happy after I get out of the pool, my morning swim done and behind me. But I haven’t been consistently, identifiably happy, no.  Joyous is a word that seems seriously above my pay grade.  Joyous belongs on holiday cards, and to Oscar winners.  I think Elon Musk must be joyous.  Joyous has been a rare bird in our back yard this year.  That advanced bluebird has graced us with its presence three times by my count. The first was when my boys popped in for visit in May. The second when I earned a vacation to the Maya Riviera. The third when our daughter got a well-deserved promotion at her work.  Other than those, life in 2017 has an uphill slog feel with a few lightning bolts tossed at us for good measure. We trudge upward, our goal to reclaim “normal”. The ascent is dotted with a few wayside benches containing happy moments to rest on, so not all bad.  Maybe the normal I am trying to reclaim is not the ideal one for me anymore. If it’s that hard to attain, perhaps I need to rethink it.  Being in pursuit of happiness all the time but not catching it is exhausting.

I am free, so one out of the three. I have both time freedom and residual income freedom to come and go as I decide.  I had to get up and be dressed and into traffic at rush hour a few mornings ago, and I honestly don’t know how people do it day in and day out.  I’m spoiled for any “real” jobs any more after 15 years of setting my own schedule and being ultimately responsible for myself without oversight or needing to ask permission to go on a vacation. I celebrate and am grateful for my freedom daily.

Speaking of freedom, OJ Simpson is back in the news. He’s up for parole and it looks likely he will get it. I was living in Los Angeles and working at Jerry’s Famous Deli in the Valley during his low-speed pursuit and subsequent murder trial. I didn’t mind working at Jerry’s. I liked the straight-forward transactional nature of bringing people a bagel and coffee and them giving me a dollar.  Jerry’s was usually busy so the time went by quickly, the wait staff was hilariously weird and quirky, and there were celebrities in all the time.  James Caan came in once, and sat at the counter. This was not long after his amazing turn in Misery, and you know, he had done a few other little movies like The Godfather and Brian’s Song and Thief. The young waitress waiting on him didn’t know who he was.  I couldn’t believe it. She also didn’t care that she didn’t know, she just wanted her dollar since she had given him a bagel and coffee. He hit on her of course, she was stunning.  “Do you work out?” he asked.  “No”, she said, flipping her braid behind her and sashaying away. I just stared and suddenly felt old.

At Jerry’s, televisions mounted on the walls were on all the time, so we were all glued to the “Trial of the Century” as we worked. It was full of odd birds like professional house guest Kato Kaelin, and exciting moments: “If it (the glove) doesn’t fit, you must acquit”. God, Johnnie Cochran must have been so excited, even joyous when he thought that phrase up. That man and his defense team earned their money. They shredded the prosecution’s case bit by bit, and we all watched Marcia Clark get more and more pinch-lipped the longer the trial lasted.  I remember a female acquaintance of mine who looked a lot like Nicole Simpson was furious after the “Not Guilty” verdict, and dedicated herself  to picketing OJ’s house.  I don’t think he did it.  I’ll tell you my theory – I think Jason Simpson, OJ’s son from his first marriage, killed the pair in one of the rages to which he was prone. He then raced to his Dad’s home in a panic, and that OJ stepped in to protect his son.  Which is why he could pass a polygraph and why there was no blood in his house.  It explains why the DNA was ALMOST a match, but not quite, and why some people saw a large black man in the vicinity when the murders happened.  The Good Dog that led a neighbor to the bodies was heard howling and then barking, but didn’t attack the person who murdered his owner. It was an Akita, which are huge dogs (I owned one for a while, RIP Bandit), and they are incredibly loyal and ferocious guardians. It would have attacked a stranger.  I think OJ figured that even if he went to trial, he could get away with the scrutiny because of his celebrity, where his son could not.  I believe many of us as parents will do extraordinary things for our kids, right or wrong. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.  Now I’m off to find happiness and maybe even a little joy this week. Hope that you do the same.

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