Twenty six years… Twenty six years I’ve been on this planet, yet until this morning I didn’t realise that my polite stranger smile looks like i’m squeezing out a silent fart. How can I not know for this long that I can’t smile at strangers!
I’m not talking about a big gurning smile you might do at a child’s birthday party… Actually scratch that, let’s not picture me gurning like a madman at a children’s party, especially when I don’t have any children yet… Raises way too many questions. A big happy ‘cheeeese’ smile is easy, everyone can do it and we all look like idiots when we do. I’m talking about the stranger held the door open for you smile, the one that’s often accompanied by a ‘thanks’ so inaudible Buddhist monks use its existence as a philosophical thought experiment.
I came by this knowledge walking home last night and catching a glimpse of my own reflection in a car window. I was minding my own business when a young woman, probably early twenties walked past staring through me as if I wasn’t there, I awkwardly caught eye contact with her and then realised I had to make some form of gesture of acknowledgement, so I smiled. I could feel my lips moving but in the reflection of the car window behind her I could see very clearly nothing was happening on my face. If there was an expression it wasn’t a pleasant one, complete apathy is probably the best description. If it wasn’t for the fact that the passerby had the same monotone expression I would have felt guilty.
But now I do feel guilty! I feel bad for every time someone held a door open for me or smiled as they passed me in the street, I feel guilty because I now know their kindness was met with a look less affectionate than Nigel Farage’s MEP Christmas cards. I spent a good 5 minutes in front of the mirror today working on being a passable human being, it turns out there’s a thin line between no smile and a sarcastic ‘THANKS!’ Smile, and somewhere along that wafer thin line hides the magical grin of politeness.
I found myself inadvertently practising my new found talent on anyone foolish enough to meet my eye on the way through the town centre this evening. A little life advice, if you want to walk down the high-street smiling at strangers, keep your hands visible, it was quite a cold night tonight so mine were in the pockets of my jeans… How I managed to make it home without being attacked or arrested is beyond me, I must have looked like an ironic sexual predator, staring at people with my hands on my crotch occasionally giving a sarcastic smirk before recoiling to my original wet fart facial expression.
On another note, recently I discovered something wonderful! Pepperoni pizza baguettes at Subway for £1.20! I know, incredibly jarring change of subject. I hadn’t planned to write about these delicious 6 inch scoops of molten cheddar but running my tongue across the freshly burnt roof of my mouth brings back memories of how delicious those first few bites were when I was still capable of the sensation of taste…
I don’t know what they cook those things in but whatever it is has the power of a newly formed sun. I watched as they made me one today, 15 seconds… That’s all it takes, 15 seconds to go from refrigerated to hotter than a trailer for 50 shades of grey where the main actors are replaced with Kermit and Miss Piggy (just me?). Don’t get me wrong I’m no Subway advocate, they make an average sandwich on a good day, on a bad day you’ll be lucky if what you’re given can even be classified as a sandwich after they take out their measuring cups to ensure you get exactly one portion of bacon (approximately 3 bacon flakes) on your triple bacon extra cheese BLT.
They never used to do that… I remember a few years back, you’d go in a Subway and ask for a sandwich and what you’d get would be a wrapped meat explosive, impossible to eat without utensils they fail to provide. Then I assume some arsehole consultant was called in to optimise efficiency and realised if they portion each sandwich down to the lowest possible definition of the word they can save £2.50 a month on meat that’s probably about as fresh as their 90’s slogan.
Fuck subway, this was supposed to be an uplifting afterthought led on by my delicious mouth burning baguette, a palate cleanser for my smile of sexual deviancy… Instead I’m now more angry than when I started. Those bread dealing, bacon measuring, cheese and toasted cunts.