Sunday, October 10, 2010

Smile Loud Enough for Them to Hear

When I read a piece called Nobody's Smilin' from Clutch Magazine about how annoying it is to have men you don't know demand that you smile, I thought it was on point. And since the usual "black women shouldn't look so mean" stuff gets hashed out in the article's comments, I won't bother going into all that. But yes, a common refrain that is thrown at a woman who won't smile on demand is 'life isn't that bad.'

While life certainly isn't bad, it is annoying to be yelled at or told to smile or expected to stop and converse with/entertain people you have no interest in talking to so that they can get an ego boost. And yes, a smile traditionally means friendliness an approachability, but sometimes "there's daggers in (wo)men's smiles." Even the most upbeat people don't walk around grinning all the time and still may want to be left alone when they do.

So today I was in very long line at Trader Joe's after I'd indulged in a cupcake that made me rather full, and *gasp* I was not smiling despite the wonderfulness of having a car and money for cupcakes and TJ's food. I was however, lost in thought, when someone behind me tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around but quickly realized that the man behind me wanted me to move out of the way so he could get the attention of the man in front of me.

The shoulder-tapper could not speak, but he used gestures and sign language to indicate that the man in front of me should pick up one of the 29 cent chocolate bars conveniently located on a low shelf for people waiting in long lines.

The man in front me was able to speak so he responded out loud and picked up a chocolate bar.

Then the man behind me tapped me on the shoulder again to gesture to me that I should smile.

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