25 August 2004


I smile at strangers. Sometimes they pretend not to notice, but mostly they smile back. If find that the better I look, the less people pretend not to see me. And I’m just talking about the difference between lipstick and how my hair is fixed. It’s sad how judgmental people are without even trying to be.

So, I was walking down the hallway today trying to find lunch and I heard this roaring jazz voice making its way down the hall. Hi, sugar. Hey, dawling. Hey, sugar. Hi, dawling. And sometimes, man, the heat for a change. Fast steps and a big smile for everyone in his path.

And as he got closer I felt myself starting to avert my eyes, the way I’ve learned to do around here. Because if you show any acknowledgement, they come closer. Even the smallest and slightest encouragement can change a hello into what’s your name and how bout a kiss/two dollars/a ride/your number. And I’ve learned that a sorry, no can change a friendly stranger into a mean beligerent threat.

But I caught myself and looked back into his face just as he passed with my greeting. I smiled and nodded. And I watched as everyone else smiled too. And from a distance, you would think he was friends with everyone in the world. And I thought of the good feeling you get from smiling at strangers and how most people never expect that it’s coming and wonder why you did it and feel sort of special. And I thought how happy he must be to treat the whole world like an old friend.

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