Why Perry Como and Bing Crosby were wrong
When they sang, “Let a Smile be Your Umbrella,” they went too far.
Whenever skies are gray,
Don`t worry or fret,
A smile will bring the sunshine,
And you`ll never get wet!
Wearing a smile has never kept me from getting soaked from the storms in my life.
As far as smiles, I have to say, I have seen some smiles that look like they are permanently attached. And I’ve seen other smiles slip off like ill-fitted galoshes.
I’m not a smile-hater; far from it. But come on! There’s a time for smiling, and a time for NOT smiling.
As a speaker, I have asked for feedback following one of my talks. Is my tone appropriate, my gestures? Shaking on the inside, I waited for one volunteer’s verbal critique. She was both kind and direct.
“I thought your talk was great, you really held my interest.”
So far so good.
“But, I also noticed when you talk about painful experiences, you’re still smiling.”
And there it was. I was guilty of the very thing I hated. Inappropriate smiling.
Over time, I discovered why I did this. Worried my audience would get sad, I tried lightening my subject matter by smiling.
But instead of it helping them, it confused them. My face was disconnected from my heart. I was incongruent.
I’ve found, there are people in this world who know when to smile. They’re probably the same ones who know when to wear white.
For years, before I walked out of my house, I made sure every hair was in place. Then I’d put on my smile, no matter how I felt.
Why? Because it was acceptable, sometimes required. And if I didn’t wear it? Then people might see me.
Don’t be fooled when you look at me,
things are not as they seem to be,
The smile I put on carefully,
does not reflect the inner me,
It cannot hide the pain inside,
So don’t be fooled when you look at me.
I’m thankful someone cared enough about me to mirror me. Or how would I ever know? Watching a video of myself, I recognized what I needed to change. I had to trust my audience, letting my words and tone carry them to the other side of my talk.
Smiles are great, everyone should own one. But there are special care directions for smiles:
- Don’t let your smile fray around the edges.
- Wash your smile carefully so it retains its shape. (It’s embarrassing when a smile is bigger than your face).
- Make sure you always wear pockets when you wear your smile, so it can be tucked away, if need be.
- Wearing a smile too much lessens its value. Cheapens it, if you will.
So, let me be clear, I do like the old tunes I heard coming from our white, Zenith radio on top our fridge. And I do like Mr. Como and Mr. Crosby.
I just long for authenticity. I want to know when I’m hurting, I’ll be accepted; with or without a smile.
And believe me, sometimes when I’m sitting with my grandsons or nestling my brand new granddaughter, my smile appears magically. And it’s real.
As little children, when we came home from church, we heard, “Take off your good clothes so they don’t get ruined.”
Smiles are good clothes.
We just need to know when to wear them, and when to put them in our pockets. Along with the falling stars.
About Anne Peterson
I write words you can feel, sometimes they rhyme. If I'm not writing, I'm telling stories from my head, to little ones who call me grandma.