Photo “Smile” ©Sommer Marsden
I know I’m not smiling a lot lately. Oh, I smile at my kids and I tend to smile back at people who smile at me. But that’s about it. I’ve always had RBF (Resting Bitch Face) but I smiled more readily back in the day. I’m not blind to the fact that even though our family has passed that supposedly-magic (it’s not) year point of grieving that my smile is often MIA.
Today was my trip to the MVA for drivers license renewal. I tried to renew it by mail but misunderstood the form and didn’t send an eye doctor note saying I wasn’t Mr. Magoo. So I had to go in and do it the old fashioned way, sitting there for a century waiting to be called.
Since I was killing time and I’ve been doing a lot of introspection (sounds super intense but it’s not really) I decided to try smiling. For no fucking reason other than to smile, to be honest. Maybe it would help my mood and my experience as the computer called out Now Serving B 33…and so on.
I smiled for no reason. I smiled at people. People are so frowny in the MVA and I’ve always been one of them too. A lot of people smiled back, a lot of them looked like I was insane…that’s cool. I just kept smiling.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t sit there grinning like the Joker for 45 minutes straight, but I made an effort to smile at others.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who plays this game. We watch the people who work there, evaluate them (hey, you’ve got time on your hands, right?) and pick the one you hope you get. Well, I got my guy and I walked up to him when my number (B45 in case you were wondering) was finally called.
First thing out of his mouth, “Well, hello, Miss Smiley, how are you today?”
Boom! Instant gratification. My experiment had worked. I was going into this with a person with a great attitude and it would be better than most scenarios at MVA where I get someone rude and I end up looking like one of America’s Most Wanted on my license.
So, I sat in the picture chair and smiled when he told me to. My signature tight little controlled close mouthed smile. He added as he was taking it, “Oh, I saw you smiling over there. A great smile.”
Then his forehead wrinkled and he said: “Well, that’s good but why don’t you smile showing your teeth?”
“I never have. I just don’t…like to.”
“You should. Great smile.”
“You sound like my daughter.”
“Well, she’s right.”
Then we do this and that and the other, pressing buttons, answering questions, and he says, “How old is your daughter?”
“Seventeen. I have a nineteen year old son, too.”
“Get out! You do not.”
“Well, good for you…You certainly don’t look like you could have kids that old.” (Bonus points for him for tossing my ego a nice meaty snack.)
This went on and on. My eye exam, chit-chatting, and then he guessed my occupation. “Health care?”
I laughed. And for the first time in my entire life with a stranger I smiled (couldn’t help it at that point) and said very confidently, “I’m a writer.” But I wasn’t dreading the next question. There’s always that next question. Or in this case, a guess.
I laughed again. (and here’s the first >>>---->) “Oh, no, I write dirty books. Or you can call them erotic romance.”
Another more boisterous, “Good for you!!”
It goes on, but I really think that all that random fucking smiling dictated this exchange and my self-confidence to flat out say what I did to a stranger for the first time ever. I wasn’t worried about judgement, I wasn’t worried about shock or horror, I wasn’t worried about anything…because all that sporadic smiling had changed me on the inside and turned what could have been an hour in hell to a pretty damn fun encounter.
Then he says: “Are you sure I can’t convince you to smile showing your teeth?”
“It’ll be terrible,” I assured him.
He shrugged, “So we take it again.”
I caved. I was on board. I took it again. This time I smiled showing my teeth.
“There you go!” he said as I ran my card through to pay. Then he’s scrolling…”Do you know this is the first time you’ve ever smiled showing your teeth…ever?”
“You can see all that?”
“I can. Hey, look, we made history today.”
Well, I don’t know about that, but I do know that I learned something today. And I know that was the most fun I’ve ever had in an MVA in the history of ever. So maybe we did make history today, after all.
He ended with “You have a beautiful day.”
I told him that thanks to him it was definitely looking like it would be one. And then I smiled at him again. I couldn’t help it. ;)