Posted on May 15, 2012
A few years ago, my daughter was describing a situation she caught herself in unwillingly. She was involved in a friendly conversation at work with several of her fellow nurses. It was friendly only on the surface as one of her colleagues clearly had an axe to grind with another nurse. As the axe wielding colleague gave way to temptation and verbally assaulted the other, the rest of the group was left with their mouths agape and an uncertainty on what to do. The nurse receiving the tongue lashing politely handled the situation with noble composure and professionalism. No rescue or interference was required. It also would have been professionally unwise. The rest of the group stood there with an expression my daughter aptly stated as “Cheerful Stupid“.
I love this term. I can’t possibly recount accurately the number of situations where this term has been applied unknowingly. It is most comfortably applied to those uncomfortable social situations where someone is making a donkey’s rear-end of themselves and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s nearly always inappropriate. All you are left to do is kindly smile; almost grin (not too wide) and don an expression of innocence with just a hint of sympathy. Just a hint. You must remain composed. After all, this does not concern you. You have been unnecessarily victimized.
You are remaining Cheerfully Stupid all the while your brain is silently shouting at them to shut their pie-hole. You are silently begging them to regain any remaining self-respect they may have left before they burn in flames.
This is what your expression should mimic:
So…the next time you find yourself in an awkward social situation without an avenue of escape or requirement to rescue, don yourself an expression of Cheerful Stupid. This my friends, is a faux pas sidestep. It is a wonderfully polite dance!