She always had her smile on, and I never understood what it was in me that withdrew from it. On July 13, 2017 at 3:56 PM, my friend left her smile and her body behind. Now I begin to understand.
I came from a family that put on a serious face for the world, even though at the private supper table we kids could snort milk out our nose when Mom did her Mr. Magoo or Lucille Ball impersonations. I got the unspoken message that it was impolite to be happy in public. Happiness on the street? That would be like sex on the street. Or peeing. Or sleeping. Smiles for no REASON? What’s the matter, you hiding something? Are you sick in the head? Adults don’t smile in public and if you want to be taken seriously, girl, then BE serious!
I have a strong funny bone. My son knows it. My lovers have known it. But in the world? Not on your life. I learned to keep my joy on the QT, as my Mom would say. So this friend with the constant smile irritated the hell out of me. What right did she have to show her joy that way, to be public like a frog, as Emily Dickinson had it.
Well I was envious, that’s what. My dear friend was demonstrating something I wanted, something the girlchild in me fiercely wanted. To be free to show my joy, to release my fear of being belittled for grinning or skipping or loving life. Life was SERIOUS. Didn’t my friend know that? She made me crazy mad with her smile—that she could get away with it!
Now that she has left her smile behind with her body, I suddenly feel capable of emulating her, instead of being annoyed. Remember the iconic movie Pay It Forward? I feel my friend passing her smile forward to me, so I can pass it forward to the world. I hereby intend to let my happiness out onto my face! I’m 70 effing years old—it’s high time I dispensed with the serious demeanor and let the girlchild inside me out to play in the public streets, smiling whenever she wants, for NO REASON at all, for the delight of how a smile feels on my own face. And when they say, What are you up to? I’ll tell them I’m paying my friend’s smile forward.
My friend, I caught it, I caught your smile. Lots of us did. Fly away into the arms of the Goddess, sweet woman. Go on, we’ll carry your smile forward. Swim grinning into the next good thing. Lula, thanks for your example.