This smile is doing the thing that the other one used to do. It’s different and it doesn’t take up his whole face and entire being you know? He doesn’t get all scrunched up and close his eyes in overwhelming joy. It’s softer and more reluctant to come out and it took more than one time, more than a few dozen times, for it to really get to me enough to do anything about it. I fell in love with that other one, I’m pretty sure, because I barely had a choice it was so convincing. It was the kind that promises to be everything you’ve ever wanted without actually saying it all out loud. This one doesn’t promise anything but makes you unsure of what to do with your hands and you don’t even realize it, but it makes you smile too, even if you are trying so hard not to and were pissed off two seconds earlier (especially then). It’s not too obviously outright fantastic or in your face or whatever and it’s easier to miss if you aren’t paying attention. It surprises you when you pay attention and your first instinct is to look around to see who it’s directed at, because how could you have made this happen? I’m not going to nickname another guy for his smile, I just like this one a lot and a lot more than I thought I’d be able to like another smile any time soon. And people are the same as their smiles that is a fact.
This one doesn’t always laugh at my jokes and even pretends to not find me funny on occasion, but one time he (the owner of the smile, this new one) was helping me move out of my beach house I lived in for the year and it was nighttime and we were the only ones there. It was mostly just the two of us and furniture and empty beside boxes and bins strewn about. This huge cardboard box was in the middle of the kitchen and was filled to the brim with these pink packing peanuts from something my mom had sent me in October that I had been trying to figure out how to dispose of ever since (it was May). Anyways, I went to the bathroom and walked out across the kitchen and back to where we were sitting in the living room and he was gone. I thought maybe he went to use the other bathroom or stepped outside to get something in his car, whatever…But I turned around to look back, as you do frequently and instinctively in an almost empty house, and he’s just there, just smiling over the brim of the giant box filled with pink packing peanuts. He was actually sitting in the fucking box, who thinks to do that? And I don’t think I have ever found something so terrifying and funny at the same time. I collapsed in screams and laughter and I think we just sat on the floor in hysterics for 10 minutes straight before I could speak again and I still smile and laugh out loud about this every time I think of it. I am laughing right now and smiling like a huge idiot all because of all the smiling and laughing we did instead of caring about the million pink packing peanuts flying all over the floor I just cleaned, and all because of another idiot smile above the brim of that box. Maybe you had to be there to get it, I don’t know and maybe that’s the whole point.
This one doesn’t give me the stuff people write about in novels, like I used to think the other one did, but I mean I am writing all of this about it (the smile) and him (the human) right now. This one makes me so frustrated and angry, I’ll be so angry, and then a second later I’m rolling my eyes and laughing until it hurts and it’s so different and …”honest” I think is the word. This one has nothing to hide or hold back and when this smile started doing the thing that the other one used to do to me, it was more of a nice serendipitous surprise than it was scary. The other one used scare me because it was too great to be anything real.
I found both these smiles before they were ready for me but one of them will probably never be ready and the other one might be, eventually, who knows. When the first smile disappeared for a minute he decided we shouldn’t see each other anymore because he was incapable of dealing with these sorts of things properly. When my smile disappeared for a second with this new one, he said he didn’t want to ruin things with me and would work on everything and he actually has been. The first smile was too good to be true and behind it if you looked close enough you could see that everything it seemed to be smiling about was doomed. Ok with being doomed, but still doomed. It was always right. It all was totally doomed, and totally ok (eventually). This other smile isn’t made of the same sense of self-proclaimed doom and this one good too. This one isn’t always right, even if I let him think so sometimes, and is actually often wrong, not accepting and ok with being wrong, but still wrong (that’s why this one makes me so angry and also why it makes me laugh so much). The last smile was the kind that slips away unless you are almost desperate for it to stay and made you want to stay sorry for things you weren’t even sorry about because you were scared to never see it again. I’m not scared or sorry anymore and the smile that’s here now is all stubborn and sticking around until it’s sick of me.
I didn’t write this to talk about how “the guy with the greatest smile” doesn’t have the greatest smile anymore or to explain how the loudest I have ever screamed was in result of a huge cardboard box in an empty kitchen. I just wrote it because I was falling asleep last night and have you ever been falling asleep and realized there are a million great smiles in the world? And they all have a million humans hiding behind them and they all hit you in million different places and do millions of things to you? but that usually you aren’t lying in bed at night trying to get all of the millions of great smiles out of your head, usually it’s only one? I just was falling asleep thinking about that and about how it always used to be that one certain smile in my head, for longer than it should have been, and lately, the last couple months and the night with all the pink packing peanuts, and last night especially, it wasn’t. It just wasn’t and isn’t anymore. Lately and last night I was thinking about this one, this new one, and it didn’t feel any less great than it used to with “the greatest” and I don’t know what that means.