Friday, March 6, 2009
Smiling at Strangers: Yes or No?
I'm going to stop smiling at strangers. I just think its better that way, lest my intentions be misinterpreted. I never used to smile at strangers because I grew up in a hostile city environment. We made a point of never making eye contact or speaking to each other. Eyes on the Ground was the rule. Then in my early 20s I moved to Seattle and all of a sudden I noticed women smiling at me and I thought "Jesus Christ there are a lot of lesbians here in Seattle!" I had never had anyone smile at me except for relatives or men who wanted to sleep with me. So, naturally I assumed that these women wanted to take me to a softball game and listen to Melissa Etheridge while we wore matching purple fleece pullovers.
Later I found out that people were trying to be "friendly". I was amused by their naivete; however, in an effort to always fit in, I made a concerted effort to start smiling at strangers and using the good manners mom taught me. It worked out for the good and the bad. But I'm now considering reverting back to my old No Smile Code because its just easier.
There's this guy who comes to the gym a lot. He's young, in good shape, and in a wheelchair. I passed by him today and smiled. Then my Shitty Committee started in on me
Shitty Committee: Did you give that man a sympathetic smile?!
Me: No, no, I just smiled, I swear!
Shitty Committee: You better not have, you know you're not so perfect either.
Me: I never said I was, Jesus, I just smiled at the guy.
Shitty Committee: Well, stop treating him different.
Me: I tried to look as normal as I could. I just smiled. Nothing out of the ordinary
Shitty Committee: Oh really? Then why aren't you smiling at every single other guy who you walked past? Hmmm?
Me: All right you caught me. I was trying to be nice. I'm not perfect either, its just that out of all the shortcomings I've been dealt in life, none of them have wheels. What do you want me to do? Wear a sign that says "I'm fucked up too!"
Shitty Committee: Yes. Meeting adjourned.