“Smile, beautiful, it looks good on you.”
Let’s be honest – as catcalls go, this one is fairly innocuous and unassuming.
A not-so-unrelated sidebar:
Contrary to some popular beliefs, in this case, being a wheelchair-user, unfortunately, does not afford me the perk of being the non-target of unsolicited advances. No, I have been on the receiving end of a few dozen demeaning demands disguised as, what I can only assume, some delusional dudes on a powertrip believe to be flattery – that has flatlined.
You didn’t ask, but for the sake of provocative content, I feel inclined to share with you one of my favorites (please sense the disgusted sarcasm). It went something like, “hey, mama, you should be riding me instead.”
No, sir. Just no. And I am not your mama. Whoever is, did a dismal job at teaching you about boundaries and respect. She should be ashamed of herself – and you.
So, you see, as public displays of pathetic fall (on the cat-callers side) this most recent comment from a passerby of the male persuasion was not nearly as bad. Harmlessly spoken, almost, but not thoughtlessly delivered.
I believe that this man genuinely meant no harm by speaking his mind to me. Rather, he wanted me to harness some more positivity and show it on my face.
His words startled me out of my head and I realized, in a state of hard concentration to get to my next meeting on time, my usually pleasant facial features were probably stuck in a not-so-friendly position.
This phenomenon is what my younger contemporaries often refer to as ‘resting bitch face’ or RBF. I can, unapologetically, admit that RBF is an affliction that I deal with, daily.
Case in point, while cruising the hallways of the office building I work in, I regularly interrupt the scheduled programming of my thoughts to remind myself to relax my face.
I’m serious. If I listen hard enough, I can hear the faint whisper of my Nana, telling me that if I don’t smile more, my scowl lines might be permanent. Then I can almost feel her cool, soft thumb massaging the indented skin between my eyebrows.
What can I say. I was a moody kid. Obviously, a moody adult, too.
The unexpected request from an unknown man, plus the memory of my perpetually positive Nana on a happiness crusade, helped me realize something simply profound.
We are all moving around our lives a little too moody.
Adults are a bunch of overgrown, tightly-wound, hormone-driven teenagers. About to snap. (Highly entitled brats reacting poorly to the existence of another human, usually of the opposite sex, is saved for another blog post).
I dare you to take (silent) inventory when you’re out amongst other adult children. How many smiles, or displays of general pleasantries do you see?
Your final tally might surprise you. Or maybe not. Maybe you already expect most people you encounter to be a grumpy Gus with bugs up their behinds.
It seems to be the norm today, while everyone is rushing from here to there, juggling phones and files and cups of coffee and bags full of who knows what, not too many of us are sporting the cheapest accessory: a smile.
Because we don’t have time to greet each other nicely or because life really is too stressful and all we really have the energy to do is frown or flatline.
The real, less dramatic, reason for not sharing enough smiles is that we aren’t aware of the energy that we are producing and projecting.
We’re so busy, consumed by the number of check marks on a list, that we forget to check ourselves. Are we being polite enough, showing our pearly whites, relaxing our shoulders and being more inviting to others?’
The answer is probably not as often as we should be, but I get it. It doesn’t take a genius to notice that we don’t live in the most welcoming, tolerant world. A lot of us feel like we need to have our guards up, careful about how we interact with people.
But does that mean we can’t smile at each other and offer a kind greeting? Some people think so. You know them. The ones who overt their eyes away from you or return your smile with a deadpan stare.
They must be afraid to catch what you’ve got, a little positivity flowing through your veins.
Smile, beautiful, it looks good on you.