While in college, one of my jobs was as a restaurant hostess in Tribeca. As a people pleaser with a chronic smiling disorder, I was basically tailor-made for this position. And to be crystal clear, this was before my much-needed relationship with Invisalign.
One night, in the dead of winter, a man asked me where I was from. First of all – rude! I was wearing all black and had strategically placed my Bordeaux-hued scarf around my shoulders to fight the cold seeping through the front door. Secondly, I was only recently coming to grips that native New Yorkers were rare around these parts and my New Yorkness had never actually been questioned. Was I less than because of my want to express happiness? When I told this guy, he simply said, “I swear I never met a New Yorker who smiles as much as I’ve seen you smile all night.”
Sure, a bad line from a corny dude. But I never forgot it. That was just the tip of the smile-shaped iceberg. Over the next decade, I would get asked why I smiled so much, and I should rethink the behavior since nice women don’t make it far, especially not in TV. Fuck that. Had I not met two incredible women early on in my career, I might not have kept that jovial essence. One told me that she always got more flies with honey, and the other told me that I should never discount how infectious happiness can be for people. Shoutout out to Brandy and Anne for reminding me that badassery and kindness are not mutually exclusive.
I like being kind to people. I enjoy smiling through my day. I selfishly get pleasure out of complimenting others in the hopes of making their day a little warmer. I’m not looking for some pat on the back. I don’t like to be poked and also, I don’t know if you’ve washed your hands. I say all this because one of my biggest fears as I inch closer to the day where my cancer battle will really begin – is that I’ll lose my ability to smile through anything.
When everyone tells you that remaining positive is a huge part of fighting the big C, it’s hard not to obsess over it. Especially when it’s something you’ve been good at pretty much all your life. As I see it, I now stand in my own version of the “upside down” where I’m fighting a terrifying monster who wants to take me down. Hopefully, it’s scared of teeth and gums. Oh, and poisonous chemicals.