Sunday, May 29, 2011
The Pleasant Scowl
What does your face look like when you walk through the grocery store? Are you deep in thought? Are you smiling at people and looking them in the eye? Are you cussing at them in your mind because they’re inconsiderately taking up the whole isle? Sometimes when I bump into someone going around a corner, I say, “Oh! Excuse me. Sorry,” then as I’m walking away, I mutter, “I don’t know what I’m apologizing for. I know the proper rules of navigating a grocery store and you were in the wrong.”
Yesterday I was happy, and I was walking through the store, smiling at people. They smiled back, the smile that’s one part polite and three parts, “Do I know you?” That made me smile bigger… and it made me think of my Dad.
One night Ryan and I were sitting in my parents’ living room on their big, comfy, inviting and still marvelously stylish couch… one of the many things in the house that Dad put ever so much thought into before purchasing. He was lying on the floor, a place he was always the most comfortable for some reason. Mom was sitting next to him, probably rubbing his feet… a place she was always the most comfortable for some reason.
Dad was being philosophical. “I’ve been thinking about my facial expressions,” he said. I try to go around with a friendly look on my face, but sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror. In my mind, I’m almost smiling, but in my reflection the expression couldn’t even pass for pleasant!”
By this time Ryan and I were laughing. Laughing because we didn’t know anyone who would think Dad anything other than pleasant. Laughing because he had given a small thing like that some thought. Laughing at the ludicrous notion of trying to give someone a gentle smile and feeling like you end up scowling at them instead.
I’m my Dad’s only daughter. If there was anyone in the world afraid of his stern gaze, it was the boys who came to pick me up for a date. Even they… the most questionable on the list of applicants to receive my Dad’s glowing smile respected him so much, that they probably would have counted themselves lucky to get the “pleasant scowl”.
It’s memorial weekend. I miss you Dad. I can’t listen to the message you left on my voicemail yet. The one I’ve saved since last May. The one where you wished me a happy birthday in the way only a Dad can. I can’t listen to it yet, but I hear it all of the time. I’m still smiling. Right now, though, my smile looks like tears streaming down my face. I have reasons to smile, reasons to laugh… because I have you, I have Mom, and I have everything else that you gave me. Today I’ll smile at people and I’ll think of you.