There are few things worse in life than being over-promised or having heightened expectations only to have them deflated like a balloon with a shuddering hiss.
When in your mind’s eye you’re expecting one thing, but reality strikes and you get something completely different, it can be difficult to contain your disappointment.
Adults are far better at masking their true feelings than children when faced with a dud situation.
Years of experience mean you’ve perfected your fake enthusiasm and know how to paste a false smile on your face while exclaiming: “Oh, that’s lovely!”
Presents are a prime example of dashed hopes.
You spend weeks dropping hints, leaving catalogues with items helpfully circled and even “accidentally” dropped a post it note with a list headed: “For my birthday, I would love ….”.
Then on the big day, with butterflies racing through your stomach, you excitedly unwrap the elaborately wrapped package only to reveal… an IRONING BOARD COVER!
Thankfully, this has never happened to me. If Hubby ever did that, he may well find himself unwrapping divorce papers.
Although I’ve not been subjected to undesirable housework-related prezzies, I’ve certainly had my share of far from ideal gifts.
Good manners have always forced me to thank the giver effusively. If anything, the less enamoured I am, the more I overcompensate by gushing.
Children make me laugh as they’re never as good at hiding their gut reactions.
Countless parents cringe as their child rips open the packaging of a gift only to say: “But I’ve already got that!” Or worse: “That’s boring!”
Although our children are always polite and appreciative of any presents, when they were younger, Hubby and I secretly sniggered when we heard them utter: “Oh, clothes. That’s nice” before tossing them to one side to concentrate on the REAL presents of toys.
One of my favourite lines from the film Toy Story is when Andy unwraps his birthday presents and one turns out to be bedsheets and Mr Potato Head asks: “Who invited that kid?”
But presents aren’t the only thing that can turn out to be a big letdown.
The internet is a huge culprit of making things look better than in real life.
That dress you order thinking it’ll make you look like you’ve strutted off the catwalk... but makes you look more like something the cat’s dragged in.
Or blokes: that snazzy suit you thought would turn you into Brad Pitt ... but makes you feel like an armpit.
The world of online dating can also be littered with falsehoods, fiction and confusion. Many a woman’s gone on a blind date expecting a dead ringer for George Clooney only to end up with a Wayne Rooney.
Throwing caution to the wind can also backfire. Instead of heading to your regular eating haunt, you decide to try somewhere new – only to get food poisoning and spend the weekend on the loo.
Or you book a holiday to unchartered territory hoping for a slice of paradise – but end up on a holiday from hell.
However, occasionally, just now and then mind, when you want one thing, but get something else entirely, you can end up pleasantly surprised as the substitute isn’t as inferior as you initially feared.