I missed the memo about smiling.
I’m technically a native Californian, but I spent most of my formative years in The South. Say what you will about Southerners, they’re friendly folks. When you walk or drive down the street in a small southern town, it’s pretty much expected that you will smile and wave at just about everyone you encounter along your path, whether or not you know them. That’s just what you do.
So imagine my confusion and discomfort when I moved from a small town in Virgina to the big city of Los Angeles. I persisted in my smiling (though I dispensed with the waving) and people in the City of Angels responded strangely. If passersby made eye contact at all, it was usually with a blank or slightly angry expression. More concerning was when my smiling resulted in guys turning around and following me down the street. It wasn’t my intention to look flirty, but I suppose when all the other women were walking briskly and averting their eyes, my smiling seemed pretty alluring in comparison.
So quickly I learned, don’t smile so much. And when I stopped smiling so much, I think I got a little less happy. Maybe it’s one of those weird connections between the mind and the body that Ph.ds are still trying to sort out. All I know is that much like Buddy the Elf, I just like smiling. I smile when I’m happy, but I’m finding more and more that smiling makes me happy.
As part of my recent job change, I’m now one of those urban clichés in opaque black tights and Steve Madden walking shoes, hoofing it from the train station to my office. Now that I’m out of my car, I’m actually seeing people, and I’m trying to get back into the habit of smiling at them. Maybe it still makes me look flirty or crazy, but I don’t care. Not to get all Mother Teresa on you, but…
Smiling is kind of like an open door…it is inviting. It might sometimes invites people to follow you home, but I think it more often invites good things, like friendship and warm and fuzzy feelings. In this way, smiling is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I could explain, but Deano sings it better than I could say it..
Merry Christmas and memo received.