Then yesterday afternoon I was walking down the road to meet the French. A large pick-up truck passed by and the man driving it waved enthusiastically to me. I waved back, thinking I knew him. About one minute later he pulled up beside me (he had turned his van around and come back). He drove alongside me, gesticulating and calling out something about "Had to" and "smile". At that time someone had just called me on the cellular phone and I was talking, so couldn't make out what he was saying. I just waved and kept walking and talking. I didn't know him and thought he would drive off. But he turned the corner, stopped and waited for me to cross the road (by which time I was off the phone).
He got out of his pick-up and stood at a distance (perhaps respectful of the fact that in this age of crime it is best as a man to stay far when speaking to a woman who doesn't know you). He was staring at me, beaming and looking like he had just found some kind of treasure. "I had to come back and tell you!" he said (he had an English accent and looked like a mixed Indian/Anglo). His hair was wild like he had just been through a storm. I guess some people would look at him and think he was 'crazy', but I thought he just looked like 'himself'. He started to apologise for waving (maybe he felt he had to because he felt I would wonder why a stranger was waving to me) then said: "But I had to wave because you have the most captivating smile!"
"I was smiling?" I said, again not been aware that I had been.
"Yes! You were! And I had to come back and tell you to keep it! Keep it!" He was like a motivational coach in his energy. He went on about how the 'captivating smile' had made him turn around and come back and how 'it works'. "It works for you! Keep it" He looked so overjoyed and effusive, literally beaming.
I thanked him for stopping to tell me, he wished me a 'fabulous afternoon! And keep it!' ... to which I told him: "And you keep that wave" and continued walking.
That encounter made me think of a few things. First, the reason I had thanked him was not so much because of his appreciation of 'the smile', but because of the fact that he had turned around and stopped to tell me what he had felt in that moment. Not many people would do that. (i) They are afraid. (ii) They are too busy (iii) They might think the other would think they are crazy.
The next thing I thought was about 'being crazy'. When anyone looks 'too happy', in public (especially when alone), generally people tend to wonder: "What happen to she/he?" I remember once seeing a well-dressed woman walking down Maraval Road alone, smiling broadly for an extended period of time. People were staring at her as if she was mad. Another time there was a woman, absorbed in smiling and humming loudly to herself as she laid out her groceries for the HiLo cashier. The cashier was looking at her in that 'whappen to she" way, like she was crazy.
If extended smiling and humming are signs of lunacy, then what a pity we live in a sane world.