As chance would have it, the shed that the Geeky Guy ran into when he was avoiding a panic attack held all the supplies for the festival’s annual Happiness Parade. It was packed to the rafters with masks, costumes, and banners; enough for a half dozen happiness parades; enough to supply a division of happiness soldiers to march on gloom and declare war on melancholy. A number had already reported to duty and were picking through the racks and selecting their equipment.
“I’m glad you came here. We can get ready for the happinith parade,” said the Lisping Barista to the Geeky Guy.
Many regular festival goers considered the Happiness Parade the high point of the festival, even better than camping next to an all night drum circle, getting baked by the sun while you are already baked by pot, and the performances of dozens of local bands who had hastily rehearsed for a couple nights in an empty garage. The Lisping Barista, who had been to the festival before, came to hear the Spellbinding Fish Fry, but the Happiness Parade was a close second. It gave her the opportunity to get her freak on, strut her stuff, and declare her allegiance to and wave the flag of Peace, Love, and Understanding.
The Geeky Guy, who was unfamiliar with the mores and ideology of the festival, was never one to parade around and draw attention to himself. He had avoided one panic attack, but he could never be sure another might not come along. However, he had to concede that getting dressed up in a disguise would give him a ready-made and portable hiding place.
“Look at all the wayth of being happy,” she said, draping a pink boa. “I don’t know what to pick.”
The Geeky Guy tried on a wizard’s hat for a spell, but it had no magic for him. He skipped over the clothing, he couldn’t be sure they’d ever been properly washed, and went right to the shelves of props. There was a frightful monster’s mask. He could conceal his fears behind a fearsome display of anger. A neat trick. He could do that.
The Lisping Barista squealed from behind the racks. The Fat Woman with Too Much Makeup laughed hard, doubling her number of chins.
The Rugby Player was wearing a diaper, a baby’s dress, and bonnet, and was sucking on an oversized pacifier.
“Awethome,” said the Lisping Barista. “Hey, here’th a Mother Hubbard dreth. Now if we can find a big baby carriage.”
The Geeky Guy searched the prop section. There indeed was a big baby carriage there. They had everything. He pushed it over to them.
“That’th perfect,” shouted the Lisping Barista. “I know, you be old Mother Hubbard and puth him around.”
“No, I couldn’t,” said the Geeky Guy.
“Why not?” she said. “Are you too macho to wear a dreth?”
The Rugby Player sucked on his pacifier. The masks hung on their hooks and looked down, gravely. The wizard’s hat nodded.
“No,” said the Geeky Guy. “Too grumpy.”
“Lithten here, you,” said the Lisping Barista, grabbing him by the shirt and pushing him into a private place within the racks of clothes. The Rugby Player dropped his pacifier.
The Lisping Barista looked the Geeky Guy in the eye, “I have one thing to thay to you, Mithter Grump.”
Their noses were almost touching. The Rugby Player looked on. The Fat Woman with Too Much Makeup touched up her lipstick.
The Geeky Guy asked, “What’s that?”
“You may not want to be happy, but I do. Thtop ruining my happineth. Thtop being tho grumpy.”
Some spit from her lisping got him right in the eye. He flinched and may have looked like he was crumbling. He chose his words to compensate for how weak he felt.
“Make me,” he said.
The Lisping Barista smiled a mischievous smile. You could tell what she was doing just as soon as she turned her nose to avoid his. She closed her eyes. She slightly parted her lips. The Geeky Guy’s heart bounced on a trampoline; again. Couldn’t breathe.
She kissed him.
“There,” she said. “Thtill grumpy?”