Happy Inauguration Day, Obama!
I see Mix Tape Tuesday hasn’t yet been posted, which means I have time to sneak in my late Monday post without anyone being the wiser…
Last semester I was attending the English campus of my current university, the campus that is the second largest city in our province (yes, this university within a city is larger than all other cities within our province… because we have no other cities. Only towns. And villages. And occasionally a community. This sounds truly pathetic. But come visit me anytime!) My Physical Chemistry class had about 90 students in it, so the lab was divided into sections of approximately 30. My first thought upon walking stiffly into my first Phys Chem lab was to look across the room and note with frantic relief: “That boy looks extremely pleasant.”
Coming from a university where the average class size was 5, the thought of finding a lab partner in a class of 90 terrified me, aided no less by my prof’s encouraging words during the first lab: “If you haven’t made any friends yet, you have until Friday to make at least two.” Faced with the prospect of doom and judgement and an F in Friendship Making 101, Smiley Guy suddenly seemed like an offer of salvation, only 2 lab benches down. He was so perpetually pleasant-looking that he seemed incapable of refusing my tentative offer of friendship, thus guaranteeing me not only a lab partner, but also a lifeline in this vast domain of uncommunicative strangers.
Smiley Guy then turned around and high-fived his two friends, thus sealing the lowest deal of all: The Pre-Planned Lab Group.
Stupid Smiley Guy.
As the semester wore on, I never saw Smiley Guy chatting it up with intriguing strangers or offering a kind word to the friendless. Smiley Guy was rarely far from the comforting bosom of his safety net friends. I began to realize that Smiley Guy’s pleasant expression was actually more often a look of ill-concealed panic in the lab or forced understanding when questioning the prof on something essential and life-altering, like why she wrote “gamma” on one slide and “γ” on another.
Smiley Guy disappointed me. Smiley Guy taught me that life is not always easier just because it appears pleasant.
I returned to my Francophone campus this semester, older and wiser and more jaded against smiles. But then, as I strode disconsolately to my class the first week of January, someone walked past me… someone with a jaunty stride, a pleasant expression, and an unmistakable, perpetual grin. Le gars de sourire.
At least he’s not in any of my labs.