March 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

“It cost nothing, but creates much.

It enriches those who receive it, without impoverishing those who gave it.”

I don’t often smile, and for the longest time I’d been giving the impression there must be something wrong with me. “Are you angry? Are you sad? Is everything ok?” Is there something wrong with keeping some quiet solitude?  I once dated someone who would complain “you don’t smile. I love it when you smile, but I don’t see it often.” But I do smile. I smile whenever I see Dave Chappelle’s picture. I smile when I’m around friends. I smile whenever I see my nieces and nephew- ok, maybe not the boy. We always had these clashes and always needed to keep that I’m-the-boss disposition so smiling wasn’t an option, especially when others were around. Although, we were almost always best buds when alone with each other, but I digress…

I once entered my apartment bldg on Manhattan’s UWS after a long run (picture black hoodie, black shorts, black shoes) and run into a neighbor in our stair well. She seemed startled clutching her handbag, but had this wide smile as she paused on the landing above mine. Now that I think back, had I stepped any closer, she would’ve screamed “rape!” There have been many times I’ve walked into shops and been graciously followed by smiling sales people eager to help me. Were they really taking customer service to the extreme or just letting me know they were watching, or am I being cynical here?

On my walk to the neighbourhood junction this morning here in Adenta, I got what are now the customary stares. I’m still unsure if it’s warranted, but I’m learning to ignore them. I guess it also doesn’t help when I make the mistake of starting every conversation with ‘Hi.’ But what I also got and found interesting were the smiles. They weren’t pretentious. They didn’t seem phony. They were honest, refreshing, and somewhat calming. Nothing was forced. There was no need from the lady trying to sell me bo-floats, or the gardener who walked two blocks with me to show me my bus stop- and neither gave any. I don’t know if this is a Ghanaian thing, but it’s nice to see that maybe there’s nothing wrong with me after all. Anyway, do we really need to smile all the time? What’s a smile’s worth or meaning to the receiver if we feel obligated to show one all the time?

bo-floats: this comes from the term “ball of floating dough in oil.” They are these tasty snack meal that go well with any soft drink. They’re also fattening! Do make sure to try one whenever you’re in Ghana or an African country.


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