The following is an excerpt from "Domestic Medicine," written by good old Buchanan back in the Stone Age:
A DULL disposition is also very hurtful to girls at this period. It is a rare thing to see a sprightly girl who does not enjoy good health, while the grave, moping, melancholy creature, proves the very prey of vapours and hysterics. Youth is the season for mirth and cheerfulness. Let it therefore be indulged. It is an absolute duty.
From a young age, as women, Buchanan expects us to be in a constant state of exaggerated bliss, prancing about in our dresses with our braids and sprinkling the world with flowers, maybe farting out a little cloud of rainbows. If a woman is ever a little down during her childhood, she's probably on the track to become insane. It's our duty to smile. To this I say, Up yours, Buchanan. Have you ever had to shove half a roll of toilet paper down your underwear because Mother Nature decided to strike again, it's prom night, and you didn't bring a tampon?
"Why don't you smile?" the old perv grins at me, waggling his hairy gray eyebrows and flashing some serious dentures. "You're so much prettier when you smile," he purrs, seemingly convinced that this will somehow win me over.
I glare in response, bagging his groceries a little more aggressively. "I hate smiling," I quip. I place a watermelon over his bag of chips, the cashier's ultimate passive-aggressive dig. I'm 21 and this man has already made me jaded.
His smile disappears and is replaced with an offended scowl; his wife hides her giggle behind her hand. LAUGH AT HIM! I want to scream. Come on baby, let's you and me team up and make this old geezer feel like the creepy perv he is. It's never too late to run!
"It's not attractive to be so nasty," he spits at me, avoiding eye contact. He's practically foaming at the mouth; I can't tell if it's some sort of medical thing or if I've genuinely pissed him off that bad. Either way, I'm feeling pretty good.
Because if I'm having a bad day, let me have a bad day. What is so wrong with that? Maybe the chick at Starbucks gave me the wrong drink and some asshole cut me off on my way to school, or maybe I have a little bit of lipstick on my teeth that no one told me about all day, or maybe my cat gave me a really dirty look this morning--so can't I bitch? Can't I go through the day with a permanent grimace, feeling bad for myself and ruing everyone who's having a good time?
No, because according to Buchanan and Old Perv, it's my duty to smile.
"Hope your day is as crappy as mine!" I sing after the man, waggling my fingers just as he waggled the two caterpillars above his eyes. He grunts in response and shuffles out of the store muttering to himself incoherently. But his wife turns her head ever so slightly, flashes a practically indiscernible smile, and winks.