Unfortunately, catching someone smiling in public is a rarity anymore. When I go out, whether it be shopping or just going for a walk, I tend to smile at the people I see. I do this because I'm just happy as hell to be out of my house. Also because I think it's just friendly. Apparently, my behavior is abnormal. I've come to this conclusion based on the responses I get from people. Typically, one of three things happens:
- They take one look at my cheerful, smiling face, and immediately avert their eyes. They look at the ground, their watch, their fingernails, even the ceiling. Anything that allows them to avoid eye contact with me while we're in passing. It's as if they've never seen someone smile at them before, and they don't know what it means or how to deal with it. So they just pretend it isn't happening.
- Others just stare. These people seem to recognize that I'm making some sort of odd facial expression that's aimed at them, but they don't seem to understand what it is or why I'm doing it. They look at me like I have a third eye in the middle of my forehead. I can just see their thoughts written all over their face: "What the heck was that you did with your face, just now?"
- This one I only get from females, so I'll use 'she' instead of 'they' this time. She glances at me, just long enough to recognize that I'm smiling. Then she quickly responds with a contorted sort of closed-mouthed grimace, one that looks more like a muscle spasm than a smile. It's there for half a second then it's gone, if I blink I'd miss it. Most of the time, she doesn't even bother to retain eye contact while making this face. It's just sort of an afterthought, after she's already looked away. This, my friends, is a fake smile.
You all know what a fake smile looks like, right? Surely someone's shot one your way at least once, it seems to be all people really bother with these days. But I just want to stop one of these girls and ask: why bother? If you're not going to smile at someone, why go through the trouble of making that stupid face? I recognize that you're just pretending. And honestly, I am a bit offended that you thought your 'afterthought face spasm' would suffice as a response to my genuine, whole-hearted smile. It just makes me think you're a dreary, insincere, negative, and uncaring person. Or was that what you were going for?
Are people doing this because they're really not happy enough to crack a smile, or has it just become socially unacceptable to smile genuinely without a clear reason? Are people butchering smiling just like they are butchering the English language; replacing it with crappy shortcuts and abbreviations that require less time and effort?
Whether that's the case or not, I will keep smiling just because I want to. I don't care how weird everyone thinks I am. I'm just happy to be alive, and happy to be where I am, and happy to be who I am. I'm just freaking happy. By smiling at people, I'm making an effort to send a little bit of that happiness their way. If they don't know what to do with it, that's their problem.
Please tell me someone else can relate?