I get to work hella early every day now that I am on the bus. I don't like being late. I'm one of those. So I sit at the park down the street and write or draw or work on a crossword puzzle or do something else that has me not look creepy being alone in a park where there are children. Anyway.
Sometimes there is this group of developmentally delayed citizens who are there doing different exercises with their leaders. Physical exercises, they eat, learn things, stuff. Recently I was there during their break and some were eating while others were conversing. Two men caught my attention. One was looking up into the sky and he seemed to be smiling and rocking back and forth. Another man who was sitting next to him kept speaking to him, even though he was being ignored. "Hey, stop smiling. It is a sign of weakness. Stop smiling. It is a sign of weakness. Stop." And thankfully the guy didn't stop smiling. But the other guy kept admonishing him like someone had told him those words before. Like he was passing on wise words to his friend to survive in real, hard, cruel world of ours where smiling would get one harmed.
I am sorry that this is the message he has learned. That smiling is a sign of weakness. That smiling is something one should stop doing because smiling is dangerous. That smiling is something to stop.