The Sturgeon Smile

The sturgeon smile is one of my least favorite things about living in Seattle. This unique facial expression is sort of like a smile but more like a frown. To doit, you purse your lips together and let the corners droop. The net result resembles the visage of the great leviathans who roam the bottom of the Colombia River or any other large body of freshwater.

The sturgeon smile is usually seen when passing someone on the street. Neither party wants to take the trouble to actually smile, but neither party wants to be “rude” and ignore the other person. The result? A strange half smile that leaves both people unsatisfied.

What alternatives to the sturgeon smile are there? Well, you could actually smile. You could smile a real smile and says, “Hi!” or “How are you?” But this is not ideal. The ideal thing is to do nothing. Look at the person if you want, but don’t smile. Don’t give them any of your fake niceties. If you’re going to adopt any expression at all, adopt one of bewilderment, as if to say, “Where am I and who are you?”

The sturgeon smile is of course indicative of a larger evil: the desire most Seattleites have to be liked by everyone but connect with no one. Civility at the cost of humanity. The keeping up of appearances at the cost of a slow death within.

Next time you pass someone on the street don’t give them a sturgeon smile. Give them a real smile or nothing at all. Or do everyone a favor and laugh like an ape. Fish or primates, we’re all just advanced animals in the end.

Tuesday Thoughts

1) We live in a generation of “do-ers”. “Can I do a venti americano?” “Can I do a single shot mocha with extra chocolate powder, non-fat, double tall skinny with whole milk and six shots of soy lecithin?” These are the same people who “do” countries. “Well, we just got back from Southeast Asia. We did Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. We wanted to do Bali  but there wasn’t enough time. And yeah — now we’re back in Seattle. This morning I’m going to do a breakfast bagel and then do I-5 on my way to work and then in the afternoon do Greenlake. Tonight I hope to do some gnocchi.”

2) Instagram is at once the largest collection of creativity and unoriginality in the world. Some of the posts are breathtaking and original. But most are not. My favorite is when people say, “Words cannot describe….” followed by another banality like “….how much I love you guys, how much you guys mean to me, how fun this was, etc etc.” But here’s the thing: It’s not that words can’t describe it, it’s that you don’t have those words.

Another one I like is, “Couldn’t ask for…..” followed by: “…a better group of friends, a better weekend, a more perfect fiance, a better trip, etc etc.” What better place to express your heartfelt gratitude than on Instagram! And what better way to do it than by saying something that sounds like it was cut and pasted from a Hallmark card reject section.

3) It’s been raining all morning. However, after many years of living in or near Seattle, I’m finally prepared.  I have on: rain boots, a rain coat, and a waterproof backpack. I almost want to be in the rain.