Click Here to check out tip #1: “You is a very Fluid Concept”
Here for tip #2: “Man the FUCK up!”
And, here for tip #3: “Don’t Serve Time, Make Time Serve You”
Now that we’ve got that out the way…on to #4!
In the original 2008 series, Tip #4 had to be my most cynical of the 10. I mean, I actually advised readers to “Just Keep Smiling” because a smile effectively neutralizes a good amount of the tension caused by your presence on Japanese turf…there by making your life here a bit easier to swallow.
Seriously, I did.
Fuck was I thinking, then? I can’t even recall. Must’ve been after one of those horrific days when I managed to appease myself about the nastiness going on around me and brighten my own day by lighting up a room with this 200-watt dazzler I’m packing, gap and all. Or maybe I diffused a tense moment on the verge of detonation at the office by whipping it out on some unsuspecting co-worker… Whatever happened, it really must have left an impression for me to carry on like I did in 2008, advocating handing out smiles like candy to crying babies.
Might as well have advised people to do a little Mr. Bojangles soft shoe, too. Same damn difference if you ask me.
There were a few moments in that post that should have informed me and readers that this tactic didn’t stand much of a chance of succeeding in the long term, at least not when executed by a man with my beliefs, unless something was to occur to cause my beliefs on this matter to undergo a significant shift. But, nothing of the sort occurred.
And, thus, most of that post I regret and retract.
I’m shaking my head, right now, writing this…
Anyway, what can I tell you? I’m no longer enrolled in that school of thought.
No, I didn’t graduate…didn’t get expelled, either. Hell, I was on the goddamn dean’s list, matter of fact, matriculating like a motherfucker. Nah…I just dropped out when I lost trust in a curriculum that called for emasculation, capitulation and ultimately self-degradation as prerequisites for a patch of parchment that would proclaim me a Bachelor of Inhumanities.
Hyperbole, you think? Maybe…guess it depends on the value you place on your smile.
I mean, do you see your smile as a chance to show the world how seriously you take dental hygiene? Or perhaps as a tool you keep in your social toolbox for disarming strangers and gaining their trust? Maybe you use yours as a mask to hide what you really think. Or to hide behind in an embarrassing moment. It’s very effective for attracting the opposite sex (and same sex, as well). Or, maybe you simply employ it to be polite. There are many uses for a smile and I’ve used mine for all of the above at one time or another…
But here I was, 4 years ago, advising people to use that oral shine box of theirs to make xenophobes feel safe? To send a message to the public that though their behavior threatens to suck the joy out of my day, and sometimes draws this typically tolerant man this close to really giving them something uber-tangible to be afraid of, here’s a smile as a sign that there are no hard feelings, that I don’t take what you say or do personally, that I know you mean well?
Nah…as we used to say back in the days, that shit is played out…
Uh-uh…no more Mr. Cheez Whiz for you guys. You get cheese if, and ONLY if, it comes fresh from the farm!
What do I mean?
Well, while I have been known over the course of my life to manufacture fake smiles to further my interest (Mostly because I didn’t know any other way to manage the situation and defaulted to my smile),I– though unaware of my doing so– kept those instances strictly on a “need to smile” basis. I actually think in a good portion of those attempts to manipulate with cheez whiz, I failed miserably. My fake smile pales in comparison to my real one, much the way Cheez Whiz is a poor substitute for fresh mozzarella. (Yes, I think very highly of my smile).
My smile springs from my heart and encompasses my whole being…it is essentially a facial expression of the truths I cherish. It’s a grant, an investment in me from the Creator, a little spiritual currency, if you will, and certainly not to be squandered on trifles and the unworthy, etc… I feel ashamed, almost humiliated, to smile at a sunrise, at a fine-tuned and aptly worded sentence, at a note of music that causes your heart to take flight, at a loved one or even a stranger who generously reserves judgment and proves that humans can be motivated by something other than fear, and then even attempt to do the same for some assholes who thinks I’m dangerous cause I look different. That’s sacrilege!
And, I believe, every time you do so — offer your smile to undeserving, ungrateful, distrustful, people — you actually damage your ability to genuinely generate a smile. It’s like lying. The more you lie, particularly to yourself, but also to others, the weaker your ties to truth become. It’s the true price of deception. And, as a writer, I believe whatever talent or ability I have to touch people, to move readers, and even the inclination to do so, comes from this same source.
I know studies out there tell you that smiling will extend your life, that honing the ability to fake a smile is a very handy trick, for people will automatically trust you, like and want to be with you, for you’ll appear to be showing real emotions, and, in general, people dig that! And I’m sure it’s all true… But, who the hell would want to live a long ass fucking lie of a life surrounded by the popularity you built by constantly faking joy?
Many people, obviously. But, “not I said the fly.”
Don’t get me wrong…
I ain’t shy (by Japanese standards anyway), and I’m not in a constant state of anger or melancholy so find it difficult to find reasons to smile. Hell, ask anyone who knows me. Ever since I gave up smile squandering my genuine smile has begun to heal and claw its way to the surface much more often than it did when I was matriculating at Cheez Whiz University, that’s for damn sure.
I love to smile. People love my smile…always have and perhaps always will. I think of it as one of my greatest assets, most precious gifts. And, I do smile for people here, but only when it’s real. And, believe it or not, there are many occasions when it is real. Japan has wonders to behold and ample pleasures of substance. I’m only advising against using this precious spiritual commodity to mollify the irrational fears of xenophobes, to assuage the pain and humiliation you may experience in their presence. Sure, it’ll work, but do your heart a big favor and Just DON’T do it!
Your smile is not a weapon to be brandished for the purpose of manipulation or irony, not a shield wielded to ward off ignorant assertions and microaggressions, not a mask to mask your annoyance and conceal the disfiguring consequences of your heart’s perversion…
Let your smile spring from a natural source, informing you that you have just experienced something that brings you true joy.
Tip #4: Let Your Smile Be Your Guide is about much more than life in Japan…
Trust your smile and it will light the way to the truths you hold dear.
PS: And if you haven’t read Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist yet, what are you waiting for? A personal invitation? Get yours now…don’t let the days go by! Find out why it was number #1 in The UK yesterday, and number #1 in Germany last week! It’s available in paperback and E-book version here).