What’s in a Smile

I am a naturally smiley person. Not everyone is, but I think I’ve always been. I am a naturally giggle-y person, also, so they kind of go hand in hand. You never know what’s going to happen when you smile at someone. A smile is worth a thousand words.

One time, long ago, when I smiled at a senior lady at the grocery, the smile she returned was so big and beaming and bright that I made a note to myself to always smile at seniors from then on.

I’ve read that women feel like they become invisible when they lose their beauty with age, so I told J to make sure he always smiles at them (and says hello) also. That smile says, “I see you, and you look lovely to me.”

Today at work I smiled at a lot of people that I didn’t know, which happens when you’re in a six floor office building with multiple businesses in it, a long way from your home town. Two women told me my dress was pretty after I smiled at them, and another stranger wished me a good day as I left the elevator. The smile I give strangers says, “I am friendly and approachable”, which can also occasionally backfire.

Like a few weeks ago, J and I were stopped at a gas station for an emergency ice cream run (yes, there is a such thing as an ice cream emergency) and as were getting ready to pull out, a 65ish year old man was walking into the store. When he passed the truck he looked over at me, so I smiled.

He then walked around the front of the truck, up to J’s window and asked, “How do you like your Chevy?”

Here began a conversation that went on for ten minutes, until J finally told him we had to go because our ice cream was melting.

I almost regretted that “I am friendly and approachable” smile, but then I figured he must really be lonely and need someone to talk to, and I was glad we were able to help him out.

Yesterday I smiled at a little four year old girl at a table in the hotel atrium. After that she kept looking at me and smiling and waving and yelling “HIIIII!” in an outside voice across the room, until her parents made her stop. I kinda felt bad for getting her in trouble.

And then there are baby smiles. I love smiling at babies over their mom’s shoulders in church or the grocery or on an airplane. When a baby starts smiling back the parent always turns around to see what’s going on, kind of suspiciously at first, until they realize you’re just a dorky lady who loves baby smiles.

My grand-dog Phoebe has one of the best smiles, too. Her smile says “yes I am a pit bull, but of the sweetest and happiest kind”. I’m not gonna lie, Phoebe’s giant head and jaws can be intimidating if you don’t know her, but her smile can win you over.

Some people are naturally frown-y. These are not my people. I had a Sesame Street record when I was young and Oscar the Grouch sang, “Let a frown be your umbrella on a rainy, rainy day”. I think of that song when I see those people. Maybe they have good reason to frown all the time, who am I to judge? But I like to smile at these people anyway, maybe make a joke or waggle my eyebrows or wink or stick my tongue out. (I know, sticking your tongue out is rude but you would be surprised how many people laugh because it’s unexpected) My smile says, “I dare you to smile back”. I consider it a small win for mankind when they do.

I started this blog yesterday, but then I saw some tweets that said it might be some kind of smile holiday and I was like- way to steal my thoughts, world! But also I was like why did I not know about this smile holiday before? I would have bought a cake or something to celebrate!

This week has been high stress, and tomorrow is a workday for me. I’m going to smile (and maybe crazy laugh) my way through it. That smile sings “We shall overcooome” and it gets me, and my team, over the hump.

What does your smile say?

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