Where This Meets That
SMILES MIRROR | MIRROR SMILES
(just a quick little salute to smiles as universal and contagious)
I once spoke to a woman from Russia, and the conversation eventually went from an exchange of cultural compliments to more critical opinion and observation. Then it turned personal:
Natasha: You Americans are always smiling. You make smiling an obligation. If someone is not smiling there must be something wrong. ‘What’s wrong with you, you’re not smiling today’
Bob: What’s wrong with a culture of Smilers? Better than a country of frowners.
Natasha: No. In U.S. when everyone smiles for sake of smiling it destroys value of smile. In Russia when someone smiles you know it is genuine. In U.S. it is more like fashion. In Russia if we planted plastic flowers everywhere during the winter we’d never appreciate it when the real ones bloomed in Spring. That is like your American smiles.
Bob: Smiles at Natasha.
Natasha: Smiles back.
Natasha: Sneaky American
Well played Bob. It kind of reminds me of the lyrics to Radiohead’s song “Fake Plastic Trees”:
Her green plastic watering can
For her fake Chinese rubber plant
In the fake plastic earth
That she bought from a rubber man
In a town full of rubber plans
To get rid of itself
It wears her out, it wears her out
I’m sure in days past that I’ve given an in-genuine smile, but smiles are smiles, and they represent, I think, even in their least genuine state, an effort. And sometimes, even when effort is the very most you can give, it’s certainly worthy of reply and reciprocation of that effort. And even there, it’s beautiful and human.
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