Smile The Three Smiles, or, Growl Differently

Would you do me a favor? 
It won’t cost a thing.
I promise. 
Humor me. 
Just humor me. 
Pretty please? 
With sugar on top? 
And a cherry, too? 
A maraschino cherry? 
An entire jarful? 
Of maraschino cherries?
How about that? 

I have a curious problem and I am desperate for a second opinion. 

I am going to smile — this is totally not a bit, I swear, I pinky swear — and I would like you to observe my smile. Just, please, allow my smile to wash over you. Okay? Oh — and this is important — I am going to smile three different smiles. 

First, I will attempt a closed mouth smile. Following the closed mouth smile, I will undertake two open mouth smiles. 

So: The closed mouth smile first, then an open mouth smile with teeth showing; then, finally, a totally open mouth smile — where, if your vision is strong enough, you should be able to see that thing that hangs down at the back of my mouth. What’s that called? You know, that thing you poke if you want to throw up? Is that all it’s good for? Did the Romans invent that? I know they invented bulimia and the vomitorium. Or one or the other. 

Anyhoo, watch my smile. It won’t be anything special — just three ways that I, for one, smile. 


Thank you.
Now — that wasn’t the favor. Sorry. What a stupid favor to ask if it was, huh? I mean, it is stupid, sort of, but my favor is not that stupid. 

Anyway, anyway, 
my smiles: 
Did they seem… 
at all… 
to you? 

You see, a “friend” of mine insists that whenever I smile, I smile dishonestly. 

And I confess, it’s true, I don’t always smile and mean it. But everyone does that. Right? And wouldn’t you agree that it’s odd for a good friend to state something like that right out of the blue?* Regardless, as a result of his “observation,” I am now terrified of smiling at anyone. I don’t want to shake someone’s hand and have them think — as I smile and say “Nice to meet you!” or “Great job!” — I don’t want them to look at me and think: “What a fuckin’ asshole. He doesn’t mean it.”

Did you know that human beings — and perhaps chimps, too — are the only animals that smile to express joy? When any other animal smiles at you, it’s very often coupled with a growl. 

It’d be something if, whenever we (humans) smiled, we also, at the same time, growled. 

“Nice to meet you [GROWL]!”
“Great job [GROWL]!” 
“Oh, thank you very much 

3 May 2005 

*[03/20/22: It occurs to me now that said “friend” rarely smiled himself.] 

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