Alright, we get it. This is just your face. You’ve always looked this way. No one who randomly sees you on the street or at the supermarket has any idea what’s going on in your life or how you’re feeling. It’s possible that you’re stopping in to buy some coffee because last night your puppy was attacked by a rabid squirrel and you cried yourself to sleep after your father took that beautiful dog out back and shot him. Or maybe your neighbor poisoned your cat. Or your boyfriend admitted that he was Joe Francis, he’s just been in disguise so that he could record your raunchy sex life. That could have happened. And it could have made you really sad and upset and blotchy, if you’re fair-skinned like me. If that did happen and some random stranger walks up to you and tells you to smile, you have every right to scream, “Fuck you! I’m going to be middle school spank-fodder for the rest of my life! I don’t want to smile!” in their face. Then whimper a little and make the whole coffee shop hate this person for being rude and presumptuous.

But really, any stranger randomly telling you to do anything is annoying. “Smile”. “Give me some spare change”. “Vote for Ron Paul”. Whatever. Those people who talk to you on the street deserve a good scowl. I’m not arguing about the obnoxiousness of people assuming they know you or your thoughts, or that you care about their opinion. Obviously, you don’t care about their opinion.

Why is it obvious? Oh, because you look like you just found out you were dating Joe Francis. And scowling is not a good look. If you cared about people’s opinions, you would try to hide that scowl. Or at least save it for special occasions, like family get-togethers and discussions on how Lindsay Lohan has affected our culture. Instead, you wear that frown constantly. Whether you just got a promotion or buried a relative, there you are looking angry. And for some reason, when you look angry, you tend to sound angry too. Maybe it’s just my eyes dominating my ears in the nuance department, but people who constantly look pissed off have this wonderful way of spitting out words. It kind of sounds like they were just fooled by dessert gum and have now lost all their faith in humanity.

So, now that I’ve convinced you not to hate me for saying this… I convinced you, right? You’re not going to leave angry comments saying, “YOU DON’T KNOW ME, BITCH”? Ok, good. Now that I’ve convinced you not to hate me, maybe you really should try smiling. It’s fun. It makes people think you’re happy. Happy people are a lot more fun to be around. Most people are pretty when they smile. If you’re smiling, no one will know that you’re actually imagining really awful things happening to all the people you dislike. I’m trying to convince you frowners that smiling is fun, but I have an ulterior motive.

Whenever I’m around someone who constantly looks mad and gets all defensive about being told to smile, I get this urge to very politely and kindly look them in the eye and say, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but you aren’t special.” As my daughter’s nanny would say, “It can’t always be your turn.” Basically, anything to tell these angry people that just because they are in a shitty mood, they don’t need to inflict it on everyone around them.

Let’s face it, most people aren’t reacting to some elusive “bitchface”. They are commenting on your actions or demeanor or off-putting persona. When someone tells you to smile, it’s because you seem unpleasant. And no one likes to be around people who always seem unpleasant. Maybe it was your condescending tone as you glowered at the barrista, maybe it was your impatient grunt as you pushed your way through a group of people. Very rarely are people commenting on the expression of your face. You can look as angry as you’d like if you’re chatting politely with an old lady that you decided to help carry her groceries. I bet no one will tell you to smile. But if you’re tapping your toes and rolling your eyes in line at the grocery, as if no one else’s time could possibly be as important as yours, you are a lot more likely to hear, “Hey, cheer up!”

What I’m trying to say is, those obnoxious people who assume that they know you, they might have a point. They are still rude. They should still keep their mouths shut. But maybe you should smile. You aren’t special and your bad mood doesn’t need to ruin everyone else’s day. I’m not saying that you should walk around kissing babies and singing with birds and pretending that you’ve had the most amazing day of your life. A smile wouldn’t hurt though.