The Lost Art of Smiling

blog pix smiling potato head

I was searching for a parking space in the lot of a wine store last weekend when a man walked by on the way to his car. He looked directly at me and smiled in an appreciative way – a good and true smile that included his eyes. I smiled back noting his attractiveness. Several cars followed me so I quickly turned into the next lane to land a parking space. By the time I had parked, there was no sign of the smiling stranger.

I wished I had arrived at the store 20 minutes earlier. Perhaps the stranger and I would have met in the Italy or New Zealand aisle. It’s not as exotic as meeting in another country but at least we would live in the same country.

This brief encounter – not really an encounter – struck me as unusual. Why? Because it seems that a lot of the men I pass on the street, or in the gym, or in the grocery store, or at the pool are suffering from the male equivalent of resting bitch face or RBF.

Let’s explore this while eating the Barefoot Contessa’s lobster potato salad.

I rarely encounter a man who purposefully smiles at me. Now admittedly sometimes a male stranger might catch me in resting bitch face mode and would not consider smiling at my unhappy looking countenance. However, even when my facial expression is truly neutral and not intimidating, my quotient of smile receipts is fairly minimal.

I seek more chance smiling/eyes meeting encounters where a bold person might even initiate conversation. Why are these encounters so rare? Part of the problem – and you probably guessed it – is that everyone is looking at their phones or texting or talking on them. So, men are not tuned into their surroundings, which might include a tall woman of a certain age who has specifically put on make-up and skinny jeans to run a boring errand in hopes of having a meet cute.

Two other reasons: Like women, men are both stressed out and in a hurry. They’re often overscheduled and run from work to the gym to happy hour to home and so on. So they forget to stop and smell the lilac perfume of that same woman walking confidently down the street.

Back to the resting bitch face issue. As mentioned above, despite the word bitch, men also suffer from this affliction. One writer describes the male version as resting dick face (RDF), which I find hilarious and a great term. Scientists have found that a “resting bitch or dick face” shows minute signs of contempt even though the affected individuals are not feeling contempt. If you observe a person in the RBF or RDF mode, you will likely feel uncomfortable and my guess is you won’t smile at that person.

So what can we single ladies do about this phenomenon? As I have written before, we can make a concerted effort to get out of RBF and smile. And how should we handle an encounter with a man with RDF who is not looking at, texting, or speaking on his mobile? Consider accidentally bumping into him (unless you’re driving) and apologize profusely while smiling. It just might lead to a meet cute.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

 

The Meet-Cute

About a year ago I had what could be described as a meet-cute encounter. I had been working to control my resting bitch face in hopes of meeting men in the wild and so when a meet-cute opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it.

In honor of the first day of spring, let’s have some pasta primavera while I share my story.

I was walking home one late afternoon after a stroll in the park. As I approached a basketball court in typical full man-watching mode, I noticed a tall grey-topped specimen with diminishing plumage who was shooting hoops. I walked by just as he scored. Remembering my resolve to be open to all opportunities, I smiled and gave him a thumbs up. Mr. B (for basketball) looked at me, grinned, and threw me the ball. We shot hoops for about 20 minutes.

During this time I learned that my new friend was a teacher at the local community college, had survived a heavy recreational drug-using period during his youth, and was now practicing some kind of “higher power” philosophy that related to him having two first names. I also learned that he had a former girlfriend who had been living out of the country and texted him while we were shooting hoops to say she was in town.

When it was time for me to leave, we exchanged first names (two first names for him) but no numbers. As I continued my walk home, I thought about Mr. B and decided he was mildly attractive (too sweaty to get a full read on this) but had a couple of red flags. He had a somewhat flaky persona typical of former heavy pot smokers and he practiced the mysterious higher power philosophy.

Despite these reservations and the fact that I didn’t even know if he was single, I wandered back to the basketball court several times over the next few months. I never saw Mr. B again.

Had we exchanged contact information and actually dated, this would have been a perfect meet-cute.

Although the term meet-cute has been around since the 1940s, I had not heard of it until a friend used it to describe my basketball encounter.

According to the Urban Dictionary, meet-cute is a “scenario in which two individuals are brought together in some unlikely, zany, destined-to-fall-in-love-and-be-together-forever sort of way (the more unusual, the better). The way the characters meet in “Serendipity” or “When Harry Met Sally” or at least half the romantic comedies out there.”

I’ve always been a hopeful romantic so I love the idea of a meet-cute relationship launch.

I have a number of meet-cute fantasies. Here’s a sample.

Fall In Love

I’m not into spectator sports but a date at a Washington Capitals game revealed a hockey loving audience of tall, hunky guys.

In this meet-cute fantasy, I’m trying to navigate the bleachers to find my seat when I stumble and land in the lap of a particularly handsome fan. Think Claudette Colbert when the bus swerves and she falls into Clark Gable’s lap in It Happened One Night. We both laugh and after I apologize and stand up, my soft landing partner asks for my number.

Double Uber

It’s been a long day and after a late happy hour I don’t feel like taking the subway home. I decide to treat myself to an Uber ride. As I approach the car and confirm that the license plate and vehicle match the message on my phone, I see that a sophisticated looking gentleman is approaching my ride. Just as I’m about to open the car door, he says in a lovely British accent, “Pardon me, but I think this is the car I ordered.” “I don’t think so,” I say and show him the message on my phone. He has the same confirmation on his phone. We laugh and decide to share the ride.

Dogtopia

As a favor to my daughter, I bring my grand-dog Rover to the dog park. Rover encounters Lucy, a sprightly golden retriever, and the two fall madly in love. They engage in tail wagging, lots of sniffing, and even kissing. Lucy’s owner, an age appropriate athletic-looking guy, and I have a great conversation. We plan a double play date for the dogs and for us.

Given the right circumstances and the attitude to move things forward, these meet-cutes could happen.

Do you have a meet-cute story you can share? Write me!

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Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Overcoming My Resting Bitch Face: A Work in Progress

It was the last straw and I’ll explain why in a bit. Only an hour previously, I had been commiserating with a single friend about our unhappy looking resting bitch faces or RBF as the defined phenomenon is called. (See I’m not Mad. That’s Just my Resting Bitch Face.)

The dilemma: Women are strolling through life with a non-smiling face. This RBF is often accompanied by a failure to interact with strangers at opportune moments.

“Why is this the case?” I wondered.

Before I get too far on this rant, let’s have an appropriately sourced recipe of grilled trout from the Angry Trout Café in Minnesota.

My theory about the origin of RBF is based on the trials and tribulations of adolescence. As a young teenager, I found RBF an effective defense mechanism against cat calling by obnoxious alpha male teens. As I matured, RBF continued to be my go-to expression in public at a time when unwanted vocal male attention was more the norm. Today you’re more likely to get a sext from a stranger…but that’s another story.

So now that I’m in the 6th decade of life – and as a single woman, seeking male attention – my RBF is unfortunately fully ingrained.

Instead of a resting expression that invites smiling and flirting, I have an expression that says, “What’s your problem?”

Which brings me back to the last straw – see lead paragraph. The Epiphany of the Last Straw happened after attending an outdoor concert with a friend and talking about our mutual affliction of RBF.

After the concert, as I walked back to the parking lot by myself, thinking about RBF and the fact that it was a dateless Friday night, I was vaguely aware of a lone tall male presence carrying his porta-chair to the same lot. We each approached side-by-side parking pay-on-foot machines. For some reason, my normally competent pay-on-foot skills failed and I fought with the machine to accept my money. During this interlude, I felt my face in full RBF. Meanwhile, the dude was processing his ticket.

Did I ask for help? Did I turn off my full RBF and smile fetchingly while asking him for help? NO.

Instead, I kept reinserting my credit card until the parking gods decided to let me win. By then, Mr. Stranger was already walking to his car and my damsel in distress moment had passed.

“Shit,” I said to myself. “Here was a perfect flirt opportunity and I blew it…thanks to an RBF attitude.” Because function follows form or some such thing… basically when your face and body are closed off, your mind is following suit and you are not in flirt ready mode (FRM to coin a term).

So, my epiphany was the realization of my too frequent RBF. This revelation was accompanied by a resolve to bury it through a concerted effort of awareness and motivation.

My pledge: During every waking moment I am in public (wait – I am usually awake in public), I promise to be aware of my facial expression and smile or at least exhibit a pleasant face. Should there be an opportunity to flirt, I will make the most of it and I resolve to always be in flirt ready mode.

Before there can be behavior change, there must be awareness. So I’m definitely aware and working on the behavior change. I went solo to a happy hour at a bar the other night and actually smiled at strangers a couple of times. Like the headline says – a work in progress.

If you have cured your RBF, please write to me and let me know it can be done.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia