Smiling is an act of communication cross-culturally recognized. Many biologists believe that our knack for tooth-flaunting originated with our ancient ape ancestors, furry forefathers who would flash their whites as a way of demonstrating harmlessness to predators. Although physically similar, a smile is not to be confused with a grimace, which denotes anxiety as opposed to happiness. Why aren’t you smiling?
As a pre-teen, I remember reading how the Roman tyrant Caligula would practice scary grimaces in a mirror to better strike terror into his subjects. At that time in my life, I also remember teachers continuously asking me if something was wrong—presumably because I was reading too much literature on insane despots, and because I didn’t smile enough—so, like Caligula, I would practice faces, happy faces, in my own imperial bedroom looking glass.
It took me many years to realize that my not-so-toothy grin was an asset when playing big screen devils and grave-robbers. And it took me even longer to realize that all I needed to induce smiles from my fellow primates was a motorcycle with a sidecar. Again: why aren’t you smiling?
I’ve been riding the Ural featured in the video above for a little over a month now and every time I venture out, I’m met with waves, nods, and smiles. Lots and lots of smiles.
Zipping by minivans on the highway, I’ll glance over and see hordes of happy little hands and faces pressed against windows, craning their necks to check out my three-wheeled ride. Even their chauffeur soccer moms and dads look up from their miserable steering wheels and momentarily beam.
Drivers will honk and salute. Even police officers seem happy to see me (whereas in previous vehicles when a cop looked my way, I’d assume they were going to pull me over and that I’d need to quickly think up an excuse for the ski mask, stun gun, and rubber tubing in my lap). Smiling yet?
So… aside from sidecars, what makes you smile? Please share your smirky soft spots in the “Comments” section below.