Our theme this month is The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Many of my fellow roses have written about Clint Eastwood. Not me. Not today. I don't like the spaghetti westerns but give me a Dirty Harry movie and I'll bring the popcorn.
I'm in a serious mood what with all the bad news flooding our airwaves, so I'm going to look at good, bad and ugly -- smiles. Yes, smiles. Not the perfect teeth or bee-sting lips of starlets, but the smiles we see in the grocery store, on social media, at home. I think I have a good smile. I think it's goofy at times, but it's always sincere.
In a huge city, read New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Kolkata, a smile can travel across town in a few seconds. Smile at one stranger who smiles at another, and so on and so on and Scooby Dooby Do. Sorry, I slid off the track for a second. You get the idea. A good smile is a contagion that should be spread liberally.
Bad and ugly smiles do the opposite of good smiles. They tear the recipient down. A leer can make the recipient want to go home and take a shower. Yuck. Baring the teeth is a threat. Cue the shower and take the Glock with you.
Say someone shoves you and you fall. The shover walks over to offer a hand up. The shover smiles, gloats actually, about having caused embarrassment if not physical pain. The shovee is left to take the hand or not. Not wipes the gloat of the shover's face. If the shovee is really strong, she'll smile a genuine smile at the shover. Doing so takes back the power the shover has gained over her.
Bad smiles and ugly smiles don't make it around the world. They have limited life-spans. They die as quickly as they appear, particularly when the recipient ignores them.
Which do I prefer? The contagion of a good smile. You can hear it through the phone. Or in a silly smiley face on a tweet or email.
I challenge you: Whose smile today will be the first one around the world? Come on. Show those gleaming whites.
Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max Unintended Consequences. She is the current president of the state-wide Virginia Writers Club and usually smiles like an idiot all the time.