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Confessions of a grinch, part 1

December 27, 2016

My son and I just read Ellen Raskin’s mystery The Westing Game, a Newbery Medal winner. We really liked it, but that is not the point of this post.

The point of this post is that the book includes a strong, admirable character who articulates a perspective on smiling that I agree with.

Basically, we’re against it.

Long before becoming a judge, Josie-Jo Ford had decided to stop smiling. Smiling without good reason was demeaning. A serious face put the smiler on the defensive, a rare smile put a nervous witness at ease. She now bestowed one of her rare smiles on the dressmaker. “I’m so glad we have this chance to become acquainted, Mrs. Baumbach. I had so little time to chat with my guests last night.”

Like Judge Ford, I tend to treat smiles as capital to be spent sparingly. The air of neutrality is a good match to my sense of myself as introverted and studious. But it’s not necessarily optimal for my family and friends.

I am lucky to be married to someone who smiles more than I do. Perhaps in 2017 I will return the favor more frequently.

The Westing Game cover

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