Monthly Archives: March 2016

Why Don’t You Smile?

Recently I had a conversation with a person whom I consider a good friend though we don’t typically see each other outside of the context of SCA events. When there the general camaraderie is such that we are all more relaxed and friendly with each other, but even so, there is a level of reservation that I keep with any number of people, and a select list of others who “get passed the walls” as it were.

You know how you can be having a perfectly ordinary conversation and all of the sudden you find yourself talking about something a little more “close to the vest” than you expected to find yourself discussing? Yeah, that happened. This person commented that they liked me but they never really understood why they liked me.

At least not until recently when they realized that more often than not they don’t see a smile on my face but they know that when they come and talk to me that they will get a smile out of me, and one that is genuine. So the question came up; “why don’t you smile?”

I’ve known inside myself most of my life why I don’t tend to smile all that much except around various people, but I never had to verbalize it to anyone before, so I struggled a bit to explain.

And then I got home and this was on my TV:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se2MiSCTDZM

Now, I’m not going to say that I am nearly as hard assed as Sherlock Holmes or anything like that, but certain things he says in this scene rang true with me.

First, the simple acknowledgement of who and what he is. “I am not a nice man.” I don’t tend to think of myself as a nice man either. I am “acerbic” and cynical. I also have a sense of wonder and joy that I try to use to counter that. Not exactly a Holmesian trait but there you go.

Next, the acknowledgement that it is unlikely to every change. Yeah, I’m very set in my ways and although one of those ways is to try and embrace changes to make myself a better person I also realize that there are things that will probably always be out of my reach.

Then the acknowledgement that there will be fall out from the kind of person that he is. Yeah, I’ve said it all along that if I f*ck up I’ll do my best to accept responsibility for it and to try and make it right. Holmes has that ethic, we just have different sets of priorities for the things that we’ll take responsibility for.

All of this leads to the statement “I consider you to be exceptional. So I make an exceptional effort to accommodate you.”

Wow. What a powerful statement.

Again, I am not professing in any way to be as intense as Sherlock, but this phrase rang very strong with me and put all of these thoughts in to focus.

I am reserved until I am not. When I have let you in that is because I consider you “exceptional” and I am making that “exceptional effort” because I value you.

I have “resting bitchy face” or whatever you want to call it. I’ve been called out on it my whole life. As a kid I’ve gotten yelled at (and worse a time or two) for “giving looks” when all I was actually doing was sitting there thinking, even to the point of being utterly unaware of what was going on around me. My natural state is largely neutral and when I’m in neutral I often look blank, angry, or worse.

For me to show emotion does take an effort. For me to let you in does take an effort. If there is a smile on my face, if I am laughing with you, it’s because I am comfortable enough to be vulnerable, which in the end is what this is all about.

No, I am not as bad assed as Sherlock, but I can and do identify with what he is saying, and not saying in this speech. The implied compliment as well as the dire warning.

I wish this clip went for another few seconds because the next part is what lands the whole thing. Watson says to him “No one can continue to live with someone like that forever” (or words to that effect) and his response is “To thine ownself Watson….”

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