Thursday, June 07, 2007

Purrs, Returns and Smiles

Back home on time despite horrible storms in Chicago where I was running up the escalator to gate C-18 even though all the monitors said "Closed" on my flight. Just when I was ready to give up hope and go to the customer service counter, I heard a dim announcement of the final boarding call and crashed into my seat just as the door closed. All the same, those winds and turbulence going from Newark to O'Hare were very spooky.

As usual, my 19-year-old cat Bunter was thrilled to see me as evidenced in his non-visible purrs, reminding me that there have been a few comments on this site suggesting that I need to smile more or that I look miserable in photos because I am not grinning. I've always felt that people who smile in photos are much like dogs panting, deluding people into thinking that they are happy when all they are doing is sticking out their tongues and breathing through their mouths. I've always preferred the 19th century approach to posing for photos with an aura of non-smiling contentment not unlike a purring cat, not a frown or scowl, not the Mona Lisa Bell's Palsy smile but a glance of self-possessed contentment.

I thought about Bunter several times on the Manhattan trip and the fact that he and his brother lived with me there during my years in what was a very different city. If there is a human counterpart of purring, I was doing that in Manhattan. I first visited that city at age three, but something very odd and strong pulled me this time, as if the past, present and future were converging and calling my name. Then again there is Barcelona in the fall.

As if there was a need for another reason to be lured to leave San Francisco for New York (or wherever), within 10 minutes of arriving home and walking five blocks in my neighborhood, I was approached by six people who either asked for money or were hawking something. The last was the worse. "Wouldn't you like to buy a Barbie doll for your granddaughter? I'm running special."

Reasons to stay in San Francisco? It has hills and is cool in the summer. Is it possible that there is a third reason?

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At 5:18 AM, Blogger Dave said...

If that's what "contentment" looks like, I'd hate to see you looking "perturbed" or "persnickety."

At 5:50 AM, Blogger Two Write Hands said...

Sorry, but I second what Dave says.

At 6:55 AM, Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

I HATE when people tell me to smile. Whenever they do, I tell them that I AM smiling...regardless of my present expression.
Anyways, you (and Bunter) look handsome, and I would not have you any other way.;)

"Mona Lisa Bell's Palsy Smile"...priceless!

At 7:36 AM, Blogger Junk Thief said...

Dave and Hands -- Okay I'll have to post a photo of me with a big sappy smile sometime to prove, if nothing else, tha I have more than three teeh in my head. Yes, I actually have more than three teeth in my head.

Salty -- Thanks for the support on this issue! Worst pick up line in bars is when some guy says "You should smile more!" As you can see from my profile photo it was something I didn't do from an early age. Until the mid-20th century it was called dignity in a portrait.

At 10:10 AM, Blogger Aunty Christ said...

I recently had to get a new driver's license, and the photographer-lady forced me to smile. Ugh. I cannot. Having something to do with my dad's frequent admonishments to me as a child during family picture-taking time: "Aunty, please stop making that face and smile!" Me: "But I was smiling..."

Oh, but anyway, never having lived in New York City or San Francisco, I have no ideas on the relative livability of either, except to say that both seem rather large and scary and yet delightful in their way. My vote: SF for summer, NYC for spring and fall, and, um, Kauai for four weeks in the dead of winter. Oh, to be rich and young again!

At 10:21 AM, Blogger Junk Thief said...

Oh, Aunty, thanks for adding to the "no smiles, please" debate. Sounds like it's in a dead heat tie right now.

I think I gotta say NYC is more livable since there are fewer self-righteous nutcases. Also, people in California smile and wear pastels too much, both of which depress me deeply. Fortunately we get a lot of fog which makes me purr (not smile). Can't you hear me purring now as I write this?

At 11:45 AM, Blogger rich bachelor said...

For another perspective: not just the mandatory smiling, but the refusal of many people to be photographed at all, juxtaposed with the insistence of others to take pictures.

What this has led to, in my experience, is many, many photo albums filled with alarming pictures of people's aunts howling and flapping their arms at the obnoxious photog, clearly protesting their souls being stolen.

And ultimately, due to this awful syllogism, lots and lots of people everywhere going to their graves with only the embarrassing images of themselves captured.

I think your photos are dignified, though. 'Business Leader of 1955', or something.

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Robert said...

I love your smile! :-)

Have a great weekend JT!! *big hugs*

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Junk Thief said...

Rich - You're really raising the vocabulary of our readers 10 fold -- syllogism, wow! Just hope Paris doesn't find us at the jailhouse internet cafe. She'd be lost. Business Leader of 1955, how'd you know that I won that one?

Robert -- Thanks! Big hugs to you too, cutie.

At 1:22 AM, Blogger WAT said...

"I've always felt that people who smile in photos are much like dogs panting, deluding people into thinking that they are happy when all they are doing is sticking out their tongues and breathing through their mouths"

Truer words were never written.


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