Smiling Faces

The skies were depressingly grey two Saturdays ago, the wind was not gentle, and rain poured down in buckets. In other words, it was real shitty outside. I’m no fan of such conditions — except for ducks, who the f*ck is? — but I was itching to wander the aisles of a local public library, and my aged body was in need of some exercise. So, out the door I went that morning, scrambled to my car and headed off to take care of business.

Success awaited me at destination number one, the library, where I found a book I’ve wanted to read for a long time (A Year In Provence, by Peter Mayle). Next stop, Willow Grove Park, a three-story, enclosed shopping mall in the Philadelphia burbs. It’s located less than a mile from my house. I drove there not to shop but to walk its every corridor. I go for several walks each week, almost always outdoors. But when the weather truly sucks, and an exercise session is in order, I stretch my legs at this indoor mall.

And stretch them I did, for almost an hour, with plenty of bounce in my step and with an episode of The Many Moods Of Ben Vaughn, a music podcast that features a wide range of tunes, playing through my earbuds. There was a pretty good number of people at the mall, some of them youngsters lined up, in the special Christmas section, to have a chat with Santa Claus. A pretty good number, yes, but nothing much out of the ordinary, considering that the Christmas-shopping season was upon us. In fact, a third of the businesses, as I walked past them, had nobody but employees within. Can brick and mortar establishments continue to hang in there, what with the heavy body blows that online shopping delivers to them non-stop? It’s not an upbeat situation.

Being one with artsy leanings, I took a good look at the posters on display in store windows as I strode through the mall. Designed to catch the attention of potential customers, nearly all of them were great. And halfway into my walk it dawned on me that a considerable number of these artworks had something in common. To wit, they featured one or more people with smiling faces. Not just half-grins, mind you, but broad, joyful, glad-to-be-alive smiles. (A sampling of the posters illustrates this article.)

I was down with that. Absolutely. After all, what’s better than being happy and showing it too? Not much. Anyone who spends a meaningful percentage of their waking hours in that state has found a strong path in life.

When I began composing this essay several days after being at the mall, I recalled someone who would have been a natural for a store poster, as he wore a smile almost all the time. He’s the only person I’ve ever known who fits that description. I worked with Ray, for that’s his name, in the 1980s. Everyone liked him. How could you not like a guy who brought bright light to the workplace? Ray never was stressed, never was in a bad mood. Unfailingly helpful and friendly, he was nothing short of amazing.

The posters at the mall, and thinking about Ray, have made me realize that I should start smiling more than I do. I would have nothing to lose by doing so, and possibly a good deal to gain, right? There’s no doubt about it. What’s more, can you imagine how much better the world would be if everyone upped their smiling quotient? We’d be on our way to creating paradise if that ever were to happen.

With that in mind, give a listen to a song I heard at the mall, courtesy of Ben Vaughn’s podcast, if you’re in the market for something that will put a nice big smile on your face. The one tune Ben played that really jumped out at me, it’s by The Penguins, a long-defunct doo wop cum rhythm and blues vocal group. Their biggest claim to fame was Earth Angel, a syrupy ballad that became a smash hit in 1954. You hear Earth Angel to this day. On the flip side of the Earth Angel single, however, was Hey Senorita, a song so cool it’ll make you want to bounce around madly. Thanks. Ben, for airing it. Here it is:

141 thoughts on “Smiling Faces

  1. cincinnatibabyhead December 21, 2022 / 5:01 pm

    Amazing what a smile does to a persons face. It really does change the vibe of any situation. The Penguins put a smile om my face so does Ben. Never heard his podcast (any podcast) but I know his music and it is smile worthy. Give Prine’s ‘Illegal Smile’ a go. You’ll like it or you already do. Later fella.


    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 21, 2022 / 7:41 pm

      CB, you’re 100% correct: “Amazing what a smile does to a persons face. It really does change the vibe of any situation.” Thanks for stopping by. See ya!


  2. eden baylee December 22, 2022 / 8:19 pm

    Great song Neil, I’ve not heard this one. I agree with you about smiling, but I know there are some cultures who don’t see smiling in the same way we do. On a recent trip to Cuba (preCovid of course), many Russians were also visiting the same resort. I found out they are suspicious of strangers who smile at them. It may even signify to them stupidity or simplemindedness. Hahah! Here I thought I was trying to look friendly, when they probably thought I was an idiot! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. denisebushphoto December 23, 2022 / 6:14 pm

    I am generally friendly and smile at others while out but, I don’t go out where other people are very often! I guess I could start smiling more around the house … but if no one is here to see me??? I haven’t been to a mall in a long time … 7+ years since moving. I grew up hanging out at the Moorestown Mall and frequented the Cherry Hill Mall when I lived in South Jersey. I would have to go 2 hours to Grand Junction to find a mall I think. Fun post and photos. All my best in 2023!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 23, 2022 / 11:45 pm

      Hi, Denise. It’s a bit strange to me that there’s a mall less than a mile from my house. My region is very developed, though. There are a zillion stores of every kind all over the place.


  4. Pam Lazos December 24, 2022 / 12:11 pm

    Enjoy the holiday season, Neil, and the indoor walking that 5 degrees requires! My fingers were so cold yesterday walking the dog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 24, 2022 / 12:45 pm

      Where I am it went down to about 4 degrees F overnight. Right now it’s 11 degrees F. It’s probably colder where you live.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pam Lazos December 24, 2022 / 12:59 pm

        Same here. Even Apollo didn’t want to walk this morning!! Stay warm, Neil!😘

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, Another Blogger December 24, 2022 / 2:03 pm

          I just got in from a 15 or 20 minute walk. It’s cold outside, but kind of refreshing too. Here’s something that’s pretty amazing: 40 years ago I trekked in the Himalayas in Nepal. I still have the coat I wore there. It’s the warmest coat I’ve ever had, and I wore it today.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Pam Lazos December 24, 2022 / 2:14 pm

            Neil! That’s awesome! Did you spend a lot of time there? You should write about that. I’ve wanted to go there forever!😘

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah, Another Blogger December 24, 2022 / 2:55 pm

            Was there for about four weeks. Three of those weeks were spent trekking to and from the Everest region. The rest of the time was in Kathmandu and its surroundings. Thanks for suggesting that I write about Nepal. I very well might.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Pam Lazos December 24, 2022 / 4:40 pm

            I’d love to hear the stories – and how the jacket came to 2022.😁

            Liked by 1 person

  5. kegarland December 24, 2022 / 1:48 pm

    I miss going to the mall. I keep trying, but due to online shopping, sometimes, they don’t have products and even they will suggest you just get it online! So, I do. I noticed this year (because my desk is right next to the window) a line of delivery trucks one day; that’s the new Christmas shopping many have chosen, unfortunately.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Steve Higgins December 25, 2022 / 3:38 am

    We don’t have much of a mall where I live. There a great one in city centre Manchester but the city is very anti car these days and the tram journey is like a tour of the city’s south side!
    All the best for Christmas and new year Neil 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 25, 2022 / 8:02 am

      Hi. A lot of stores in the mall near me are struggling, I think. And there are a number of vacancies. It’s hard to make it when there is so much competition from online shopping. Take care. Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. alisendopf December 26, 2022 / 12:43 pm

    Way back 30 years ago, when I was a super-shy wallflower, I took a Dale Carnegie public speaking 12 week course. I had to give several speeches over that time, most of them I’ve forgotten. However, my second speech always stuck with me. I was working as a clerk in a big office tower, delivering reports. Yawn. I started doing an experiment to entertain myself. I started smiling like crazy to the people who came to my desk. Holy! My days turned from dealing with grumpy, snarky and downright nasty programmers, to having fun and entertaining conversations with those same people. Wow. Even if I have having a hard day, I’d put on the smile. You are so lucky to have a Ray in your life. I do love your writings, so in a way, I’m receiving your smiles whenever you post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 26, 2022 / 4:01 pm

      Hey, Alisen. I like this a whole lot: “I started smiling like crazy to the people who came to my desk. Holy! My days turned from dealing with grumpy, snarky and downright nasty programmers, to having fun and entertaining conversations with those same people.”

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ray Van Horn, Jr. December 28, 2022 / 8:33 am

    That was a very creative post and intuitive to the world of marketing vs. the mundane of reality.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Helene Brennan December 30, 2022 / 4:52 pm

    Good song! Smiling really is important, therapeutic for self and others, releases endorphins and generates positive responses. Remember the song When you’re smiling the whole world smiles with you?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. rkrontheroad January 2, 2023 / 11:42 am

    Great song – it got me up and moving! A smile does warm the heart, and often brings one in return. Here’s for you for the new year… 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  11. stargazer January 7, 2023 / 5:02 pm

    Going for a walk inside the shopping mall, now there is a new one…. Here in London, there are too many people and it’s quite stressful l, so I try to spend as little time as possible inside.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 7, 2023 / 8:27 pm

      Hi. There aren’t hordes of people in the mall near my house, at least on the days when I’ve gone there to walk. I kind of like walking there, maybe because I don’t do it all that often.

      Liked by 1 person

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