Sunday, December 10, 2006

Different Smiles

For lunch yesterday, I purchased a barbecue bacon cheddar cheeseburger from Duchess, down the street from work. (Yes, I went to work for a few hours, yesterday and today.) Having obtained my food and drink, I returned to my car. A woman was getting into the car next to mine. When she looked at me, I flashed her my hello-I'm-harmless smile as I got into my car.

I have a variety of smiles I use for an array of situations, emotions and reactions. These include: the hello-in-passing smile, the smile-with-head-nod-to-show-I'm-listening, the wry smile (difficult to explain but oft-employed) and the smile-while-you-talk-to-make-you-think-I'm-paying-attention-but-secretly-I'm-contemplating-unspeakable-acts smile. There's also the genuine-smile-for-something-I-find-genuinely-amusing-or-funny smile but it's a rather rare one.

I don't think we, as a society perhaps, are very good at interpreting most smiles. Fake or forced laughter, yes. Fake or forced smiles? Not so much. See, I just smiled a wry smile there and I bet you missed the non-existent sarcasm! More seriously, I smile fake or forced smiles all the time – when a co-worker is being particularly insipid or insufferable (though, of course, my co-workers are never insipid or insufferable), when a relative is telling me about something in their life that recently occurred but which I really don't care about and which I will promptly forget either in 10 min. or after the trip (though, of course, I deeply care for all my relatives and listen with rapt attention when they speak), when my boss says something he presumes to be funny (though all my employers, past, present and future, are comical geniuses who I can only hope to one day mimic).

Have you smiled yet while reading this? I bet you gave a half-smile of mild amusement. No? Maybe I suck at interpreting them too. Or maybe you're an insensitive clod who would not even merit being served as llama-chow.

Hmmm... An electric llama. I wonder if there was one in Philip K. Dick's book.

But I digress.

We all have a plethora of smiles that we use in various occasions for various purposes. How horrible would it be if other people were actually capable of interpreting these different smiles? "Your smile says you found my ant joke amusing but I know you really regret the past 2 min. of your life." That's one thing to be afraid of – people actually learning all your smiles. Your significant other may learn many or most of them, but I would bet dollars to donuts that she/he can't interpret all of your smiles.

I mean you always have to have a few mysterious ones in reserve, even if it's only an I-went-to-Home-Depot/the-shoe-store-and-purchased-an-expensive-tool/pair-of-shoes-I'm-not-going-to-tell-you-about-yet smile. (He writes while smiling mysteriously and oh so enigmatically.)