You know, Dag and Claire smile a lot, as do many people I know. But I have always wandered if there is something either mechanical or malignant to their smiles, for the way they keep their outer lips propped up seems a bit, not false, but protective. A minor realization hits me as I sit with the two of them. It is the realization that the smiles that they wear in their daily lives are the same as the smiles worn by people who have been good-naturedly fleeced, but fleeced nonetheless, in public and on a New York sidewalk by card sharks, and who are unable because of social convention to show their anger, who don't want to look like poor sports. the thought is fleeting. - douglas coupland
That awkward moment when you're venting about someone you find creepy and then said person is right behind you, oh snap. When to take it, when to be assertive? I'm learning not to smile or laugh it away in part because I can't anymore. It was easier in a way before I had to get a Real Job and look professional, when the accoutrements of subculture were a kind of armor that often led to assumptions of swinging the other way, when there were shorter-skirted perky girls to chase instead. And now I'm older than a co-ed, younger than the khaki-and-polo-shirt crowd hitting the midlife crisis bump in need of a long-haired convertible companion.
But despite my loud mouth and my occasional resorts to physical retort, there is a part of me that resides in passiveness and hesitancy, of delayed reaction, of not wanting to cause a scene, to be "the angry chick," because in the balance of power, as the female, as the person in the service industry, my word is worth less, and often worthless. The customer is always right, after all and while maybe the incident sailed over his head, maybe he felt a sense of embarrassment or shame, I still fear the reprimand and social shaming that I know comes from those moments of exuding too much feeling that's hard to hide.