Tom and I have almost completely stopped going to bars because it is inevitable that someone - often more someones than one - will approach us and say, "Smile!" or "Cheer up!" or some variation thereof to indicate that our sour countenances are seriously harshing their buzz.
Now, I'll confess, we're rarely the life of the party. And Tom has confessed to studying the frown as an art form. But we're basically happy enough people. Well, content anyway. And we're funny as hell. Well, at least in our own minds.
It's true - we don't sit there with simple grins pasted on our faces for no apparent reason. So I suppose we maintain neutral countenance. That doesn't seem so bad to me. But it seems to bug the shit out of all the strangers around us.
I do not have lovely teeth. Actually, structurally they're pretty nice - perfect alignment and never had a cavity. But we all know "it's not how you feel, it's how you look." And they are not nor are they ever likely to be blindingly white. Or even whitish. So there's that. But probably more importantly, when I was 7 and still had a mouthful of baby teeth I broke one of the only permanent teeth I had right in half. A front one, of course. Being 7, there wasn't much they could do till my mouth grew a little. I had a new temporary cap every 4 months. (I have a permanent cap now and it precludes me from using any of the commercially available whitening systems currently being marketed to target yet another of our insecurities). It was not very cosmetically appealing. So I learned at 7 to smile with my mouth closed. Never had a big toothy smile in my life. I thought the more subtle Mona Lisa type close-lipped smile was a fine substitute. And way more intriguing. Ahem. We think what we've got to think.
A new friend just commented that my somewhat flat affect stops people from seeing what a bright happy person I am. (Ha! New people will say ANYthing!) But seriously - it does make me wonder. Does my fear of looking silly and simple as well as my lifelong practice of smiling with my teeth covered result in a look that is off-putting? I would hate to think that that was so, but I hate even more to think about how weirdly false and possibly manic and scary a constant shit-eating grin would be.
So if you make me smile, apparently you've accomplished something. Congratulations. Don't you feel lucky?