17 October 2007


Why do some people feel the urge to comment on utter strangers' facial expressions? I was hurrying to meet Frenchy for lunch today (he had a client downtown) nine blocks away, and on the way a (rather rotund and somewhat greasy) man peers at me. He cocks his head to one side and says "You should really try smiling." (This is not the first time this has happened to me, so it must Be Me. But I digress.)

WTF? I do not know this man from Ted Koppel. I'm surprised I even registered that he was talking to me, as I barrelled past him. Who made him the Chief Smile Officer?

Furthermore, why is a young female obligated to smile when walking down the street. Or even have a pleasant expression? I had just come from work, where I squint at a screen all day. When I pass through the glass doors, my face relaxes. It is at repose. It doesn't want to be messed with, or told what to wear.

In fact, a dirty look is most New Yorkers' public mask, especially the female ones. It can be quite useful, allowing you to pass a gaggle of male loiters catcall-free. It can even save your life; a well-placed dirty look to a driver says "Yes, I know you know I know you saw me, now let me finish crossing the street and everyone can keep his extremities intact." New Yorkers employ the dirty look with gleeful abandon, shooting withering glances right and left, slaying any slow-moving tourist on their path. I particularly enjoy firing off an angry glare while pretending I'm an über-important power executive, on my way to the meeting that will clinch the proverbial multi-million dollar deal, even when I'm just going to buy celery.

So this I say to ye, O Large Oily Man, let a lady scowl in peace! I am not here to serve your viewing pleasure, I have lunch to eat! And strange imaginary scenarios to act out!

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