I never quite understood it when women—relatives, friends, co-workers, etc—complained about men asking them to smile. “You can’t have it both ways,” I’d argue. “You can’t complain about men not approaching you, but also be annoyed with men suggesting that you should try and look more pleasant.” Plus, what the hell is wrong with smiling? I guess it could be slightly annoying to hear a request like that all of the time, but how effed up do you have to be to be consistently mad at someone asking you to smile? It’s not like these dudes are asking for women to tap dance nude, or even for phone numbers. A smile is a simple, natural, positive act, and I was annoyed with them for being annoyed by the request.
This all changed one day when, well, just let me tell the story.
“On the bright side, I still hate my job.”
This last statement served as a culmination for a ten minute long speech/exhale/rant/stream of consciousness delivered to me during lunch with a friend (“Nicki”). She was having the awfullest out of awful weeks, and instead of biting into the ceaser salad sitting in front of her, she used a third of the precious half hour we had to eat to purge. I couldn’t help but laugh at the last statement—a sign that, despite her bad week, her sense of humor was still intact.
Before I continue, I need to give a bit more background about this friend. We initially met each other through my girlfriend at the time (They were line sisters), and we grew to be friends over the span of that relationship, bonding over the same hate for Kobe Bryant. Since we both worked near downtown, we’d occasionally meet for lunch. Also, Nicki is very good-looking. So good-looking that there was never a time when we were together where men didn’t either give me the subtle head nod of impressededness or try to sneak peeks (or slip numbers) when they thought I wasn’t paying attention.
Why does this matter? Well, she got an emergency call during lunch and had to run out. We said our goodbyes, she walked out, and I could see her through the restaurant’s window, waiting for a bus across the street. I didn’t ask what the call was about, but it obviously upset her even more. As she stood there, her face sullen, her body language anxious, it finally dawned on me.
After hearing Nicki tell me the details of her awful week, watching her take a phone call that somehow made things even worse, and seeing her wait for a bus, clearly upset, it angered me knowing there was a good chance some guy would notice this beautiful woman—depressed for various reasons—and politely (but insistently) demand that she put a smile on her face