Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Say cheese with a straight face

I’ve been to several smoky clubs and sun-kissed spas and garishly lit cafes and somber soirees and loud parties. I’ve been around and I’ve seen plenty. And here is my observation: Sexy people do not smile.

Sure, they give a lopsided grin or a lazy smirk. Their hooded eyes may show a glimmer of amusement… but they do not smile.

It’s not that they are distant or cold, but you wouldn’t think of approaching them unless you are ‘prepared.’ You know, it’s like stepping out on the cobbled streets of Vienna. You need your coat and your scarf. They are not like the ‘smiling people’ – they’re not like Goa – where shorts and Ts are all you need to go claim the sun.

So, this is what I decided to do when I was tired of being ‘sweet’ or ‘cute’. This was my game plan for being sexy: I decided not to smile.

But turns out, it’s not as easy as you think. Smiling can be an affliction. (Yes, it’s also a ‘sweet’ thing to do – don’t I know it?) Smiling can be a hopeless reflex. It can be an involuntary muscle twitch. It can be a lapse. It can be a gliding slope of the lips. It can, unfortunately, also be a difficult thing to stop.

The other day I went to a party. And from what make-up artists on Zoom tell me, dark, and smoldering is what your eyes must look for them to be of any consequence. And rightfully so. With lids dusted with charcoal eye-shadow, etc., you wouldn’t want to crinkle up your eyes. So you won’t smile..and that means you look sexy.

So I go with dark, smoldering eyes…but after three people come up to me and solicitously ask, ‘Who died?’, I decide perhaps my eyes just look a tad too ‘dark’..with smoldering keeping a safe distance.

Anyway, eye make-up in place (that means on the eyes and not the index finger or the left cheek), I sit..but I do not smile. The ploy seems to be working…until I spot an infernal long-lost friend. She spots me and beams like a beacon. I wave back vigorously – several tissues flutter to the floor…and just as people turn to look at me, I catch myself…I wave, I stand up so that my friend notices me, but I do all that with a straight face.

She comes and we talk about how incredible it is that we should be running into each other at such places. I agree, soberly.

Then she tells me that she’s bought two dogs. I remember that she used to name her pets after her favorite authors. She had a cat named Emily, a goldfish called Makepiece, etc.

So what do you call these dogs, I asked. Herman and Melville?
No, she tittered. They are named after one of his novels, though…Moby and Dick.

Ah! (I’m sure my eyes give me away but my lips are pressed.)

A few more minutes of banter and she ‘ta-da’s me away. I go back and sit without smiling. A couple of people actually walk up and introduce themselves. This is a rather refreshing change from being asked directions to the loo or if I’ve seen a ‘yellowish-blue 6610 or 8760 or 5340.’
Things are going as expected until a waiter comes up to me and shows me food. I could still maintain my composure but it wasn’t just food – it was mushroom, cheese, potato, white sauce, garlic butter, bread crumbs – all happily wrestling together to make for a tasty snack. And happily wrestling ingredients just make me smile.

Poof! Bubble is burst. People who introduced themselves to me still hang around nicely, but I am sure they’re now waiting to be by the side of that beautiful lady up there – they can spot the Viennese cobblestone path. I try to salvage my lost sexiness by delicately dapping my lips (doesn’t help, by the way, when you’ve been eating white sauce and melted cheese) but I know I’ve lost. They’re looking for a way to say, ‘So long, Miss Cooper’ (that too, Betty; not Lee.) They manage a decent ‘see you around’ and go to Vienna.

Vienna, however, did not set out to be sexy, and therefore she is. She is not Goa trying to blank out the sun and muffle the sea to let the misty fog fill the air. She is the real thing - her skylines will have Romanesque domes grazing the clouds. The introducers present themselves, coat and all. She looks at them, and apprises them carefully. I’m sure she makes them feel like a million bucks – in a currency that has just lost its value. But she offers her hand and says something. I think it’s her name.

Yes, it’s true – sexy people do not smile.



Ashish Gupta said...

pretty mind-boggling! boggled my mind without making much sense :-s

feeling kinda stupid at not getting the whole point! IMHO smiling ppl are more than sexy- they are warm, light and cherishable (i mean the sight of smiling someone is quite cherishable)... this post wouldn't be true in india- where are you? Vienna kya ??

nyways enjoyed reading such writings :) nice analogies and collection of words. you write extremely well.

Mukta said...

Hello Ashish,

'cherishable' - yes...but 'sexy' - umm, me think not.

and thanks - i boggled your mind without making much sense, huh? In my experience (in Vienna as well as in India), mind gets boggled only with things that don't make sense. If it did, then..what boggles?


KB said...

Hey nice blog.
I really love it if a woman smiles.Nothing worse than trying to hit on a jaded,supercilious b**ch.
So be yourself and flash those pearly whites!
And believe me if you really wanna twist a guy around your finger, laugh at his jokes.I cannot resist any woman who finds my PJ's funny :)

Nagesh Pai said...

While the sober vienna poses an alluring sex appeal through her "try-n-make-me-smile" contest, the bright sunshine of Goa also does bring out the sexy part in you and is much worth basking in than the mortician shadow of the smile-me not.

Leaving for office, my friend and i pop our heads out of his car to notice a grouchy "No Smiling" aunt beside the "no parking" board. Not for her sex appeal but the fact that whenever we see her our day goes lucky hehe!

Your blog has been a great stress reliever after a nice long day!!


PS: Updated my blog with another story... another baby step.

Megha said...

Came upon here from DesiPundit and glad I did. Loved your writing! As someone who smiles 'too easily' (never quite understood what that meant) I can totally relate. Isn't there an uninhibited sexiness in the abandon and joy of a sun-kissed Goa beach? :) I could be the fog-filled cobblestoned narrow bylane of Vienna for a little while and even manage to be alluring while i'm at it. But I love being Goa! So I'd rather look alluring to someone who loves Goa too! :)

Look forward to more of your writing! Cheers!