NORMAL, IL—According to incredulous sources, local hardware store employee and grown adult human being Rob Peterson, 37, actually expects to be happy in life.
Despite possessing a fully developed brain and a general awareness of the fundamental nature of existence, sources said Peterson apparently continues to believe that achieving long-lasting happiness is somehow possible.
"It's almost like he thinks reaching a place of enduring contentment with yourself and your life is some sort of obtainable outcome," friend Brian McDougal said of Peterson, who reportedly lives on Earth, has experienced life, and is not mentally disabled or abusing narcotics of any kind. "He even gets upset sometimes when things don't go his way, as if misery and disappointment weren't a foregone conclusion. And then, on top of that, he'll cheer himself up by saying that 'it's all going to work out in the end.'"
"I just want to shake him and scream, 'Wake up!'" McDougal added. "Jesus Christ, he's such a downer."
Sources confirmed that while Peterson has been supplied over the years with a glut of compelling evidence that life is a zero-sum game at best—including a thwarted career as a graphic designer, multiple failed relationships, and limited financial mobility—he nevertheless continues to cling to the misguided expectation that he can and will experience real serenity and joy in the long term.
The baffling man has also reportedly read a newspaper before, interacted with coworkers, knows how economies and political systems work, and is undergoing the process of aging, yet has made no effort to revise his original assumption.
"What really gets me is the confidence he seems to have that one day he will be able to shed all of the fears and anxieties that are hardwired into his DNA and the modern world will decide to stop being unrelentingly brutal and allow him some happiness," said coworker Miles Sagal, adding that the delusional Peterson inexplicably presumes that this not only could, but should, occur. "Whenever he's feeling low, he'll allude to some time down the road when he'll have it all 'figured out.' When exactly does he think that will happen?"
"Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with this guy?" Sagal added. "He's aware that he's going to die, right?"
Stunned sources told reporters that Peterson recently expressed genuine disappointment when something he hoped would happen did not happen, despite the fact that such a scenario is an elegant microcosm of life itself. He has also been heard to say on numerous occasions that he "just [wants] to be happy," as though returning to a state of childlike bliss were a reasonable request and not something human beings had already tried and failed to do for many thousands of years before he was born.
While modern psychiatric science maintains that long-term happiness is possible only in the realm of fairy tales, Hollywood romantic comedies, and the naïve imaginings of the youthful mind, experts said Peterson has not picked up on this universally acknowledged truth and may be suffering from the severe misapprehension that life can be what he makes of it.
"Frankly, science cannot explain this man," confirmed noted psychologist Dr. Eli Wasserbaum, adding that most people have their first realization that enduring happiness is an utter fallacy sometime in their late teens or early '20s, when their dreams for the future endure the first fissure in the process of eventual disintegration. "Anyone with the smallest degree of perceptiveness knows that happiness is, at best, a temporary emotional phenomenon. Seeing as Peterson is a college-educated adult, and not a 5-year-old kid on Christmas morning, he should really know better than to think otherwise. We're all just barely hanging on for our entire lives."
"Hell, I'm a respected doctor who makes over $300,000 a year," Wasserbaum added. "You think I'm happy?"
At press time, Peterson was still under the mistaken impression that anything really matters at all in the end.