Thursday, April 25, 2013

Smiling Is My Favorite

A wise man once said, "I just like smiling. Smiling is my favorite!"

(That wise man's name? Buddy the Elf.)

I like smiling, too. People who have met me might not think so. When left to itself, the default setting on my face would best be described as "grumpy" or "annoyed." (Or possibly "constipated.") It is certainly not "smiling" or "happy."

My default face was so bad that when I was in college I'd be walking around campus and people walking past would say, "Hey, smile! Life isn't that bad," and "Dude, cheer up," and "Don't do it. A vague liberal arts degree is not the way to go if you want to get a job after college!" (I should have listened to all three of those people.)

But, now that I've lived a bit and actually have some legitimate reasons to be happy, I'm hoping my face isn't as dour as often. There are times when I actually catch myself smiling for seemingly no reason.

There might not seem to be a reason for my smiling, but usually there is. There are certain people, places, things and/or memories that will bring a smile to my face.

I've been smiling a lot this past week, because I've been thinking about my Aunt Franny. She died a week ago, and while I've had to deal with the sorrow and grief of her passing, those feelings have been overpowered by the happy memories of the crazy things she used to do and say, and all the fun times I had with her. (Memories like the time after her heart attack when the big, burly male nurse came out of her hospital room with an astounded look on his face and said, "Dang! That little old lady really knows her rock and roll!") Thinking of Franny makes me smile. (For more on Franny, see last week's column: "My Franny Franny Froo Froo")

I have some friends from college that I am starting to lose touch with. I used to see them and do stuff with them three or four times a year. But, life is starting to get in the way. Busy schedules, growing kids, and several hours of distance are keeping us apart. I think it's been a couple of years since I've seen them. But, every once in a while I'll get an odd post card from some strange place. And I'll smile.

Whenever they go on a trip somewhere, they send us a post card. (And they go on a lot of trips, often to unexpected places.) (I mean, how often do you get a post card from Arkansas?) (Really. What kind of people vacation in Arkansas?)

We try to reciprocate by sending them post cards whenever we go anywhere, too. (Although we never go anywhere as exotic as Arkansas.) When I get those post cards, it's like all the time and distance is gone, and the friendship we have is as strong as it ever was. And I smile every time I see one of those crazy post cards.

There is a guy I occasionally see at work who makes me smile every time I see him. I see him very sporadically. He is a truck driver who brings trailers into my truck yard from time to time. I might see him two or three times in one day, then I might not see him again for seven or eight months. Why do I smile every time I see him? Because he looks just like John Denver! He has the little round rim glasses and the Dorothy Hamill page-boy haircut, just like John Denver. (Note: I did not know that haircut was called a page-boy until I did a little research. File it under: One More Thing I Learned From the Internets.)

(The Wife suggested that it might be a good idea to explain to my younger readers who exactly John Denver was. He was a country/pop singer/songwriter who came to fame in the 1970s. His hits included "Country Roads (Take Me Home)," "Sunshine On My Shoulder," and "Thank God I'm a Country Boy." He also had a little bit of an acting career, appearing in a few movies and guest starring on a few television programs.)

John Denver. (Yes, in the 1970s this look was acceptable.)

But, John Denver Guy doesn't just look the look. He also walks the walk and talks the talk. I saw him from a distance last week, and instead of the usual quick, macho, finger-thumb-pointy-gun wave, or the  head-bob-of-acknowledgement that most truck drivers give to each other, he flashed me the "peace" sign! And, although I don't often talk to him, on the few occasions that I have he has actually used the phrases "far out," and "right on." (I have yet to get a "groovy" from him, but I'm still holding out hope.)

(Those of you who are my long-time readers, (all seven of you,) might remember that I wrote about John Denver Guy once before. See: "Sharp Dressed Man" ) Every time I see him I smile. (And sing "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" for the rest of the day.)

Speaking of songs, there are a lot of songs that put a smile on my face. I smile whenever I hear any song by the Electric Light Orchestra on the radio. I smile when I hear almost any Billy Joel song. (The lone exception being the chopped-up, hacked-up, edited-for-time version of "Piano Man." Because it's not really "Piano Man" without Navy Davy or Paul the Real Estate Novelist.) I also smile every single time I hear Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London." (And I dare say anyone else who hears that song smiles, too, except for the little old lady who got mutilated late last night, and Jim, who may or may not have had his lungs ripped out.)

I smile every time I think of bacon. And triple cheeseburgers. I also smile when I think of triple bacon cheeseburgers. And triple cheeseburgers with bacon. (Yes, there is a difference.)

I smile whenever I get an e-mail from one of my best friends, giving me a report of his latest dream. I dare say there are not many people who have dreams about doing home repairs on Al Gore's house. (And fewer still who would admit to it.)

I smile whenever I think of my childhood in Arimo, with my Mom and Dad and Sister and Brother. And my friends and grandparents. That tiny little town was a fun place. And the more time that passes since I lived there, the better the town becomes in my memory.

Of course, my biggest reasons for smiling now are The Wife and The Kids.

Roni makes me smile with the funny and incredible things she comes up with. Like the Gobstopper story. A few weeks ago I was working at the computer and there was a box of Gobstoppers candy at the desk. Roni asked if she could have some. I said no. A few minutes later she came back with the Gobstopper story. She said, "Daddy, there are a couple of Gobs in my stomach. They are fighting with each other." (She then pointed to her belly, where the "Gobs" were fighting.) "I need them to stop. Can I have a Gobstopper?" How could I refuse that? She got her Gobstoppers, and I got a good story I can tell on her for the rest of her life. And, I got a smile.

Buzz makes me smile, too. He makes me smile when he requests "Robot Parade" for his night-time music for the seventeenth night in a row. He makes me smile when we play "Sad Day, Happy Day," and he loves it so much that he says "sad day" with the correct, pouty voice, but can't help but have a great big smile on his face while doing so. And he makes me smile when he says, "Go Vikings!"

And then there is The Wife. She has made all of these smiles possible. And her smile makes me smile. It's especially great when I know that something I did in some small way helped bring that smile to her face. (And no matter what, I'll always remember the glowing smile she was wielding when I first saw her on our wedding day. Best smile ever!)

So, my default setting may be "grumpy face," but I think it's getting better. Give me a few more years and it might actually change to "smiley face."  (Because smiling is my favorite.)

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