Wednesday, November 09, 2005

One Smile

If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don't be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning 'Good morning' at total strangers.
Maya Angelou, American Poet and Writer

I went to high school with a classmate I will never forget. I remember his face vividly, and his name has never been misplaced, although many others slipped my mind years ago. He was not a close friend. I was never in love with him, not even a little. He was real easy on the eyes, but that was not the focus of his appeal. It was his smile. Huge, white, real, and radiant. And it belonged to the masses.
Randy wore the same look no matter who he looked at. His face was like a mighty beacon. And his energy flowed like a soothing balm. I often watched as he strolled along the hallways, but it was not him that I noticed, it was the onlookers and their reaction that held me spellbound.
He did not wear his smile like a mask. He was not selling anything; he gave the gift of ease to everyone who gazed at him, and he did it duty free. I never doubted his sincerity. And I never received a smile that I did not return. I was not alone in this response. He had a way of making each person believe, for just a moment, that he smiled especially for them.
At nineteen, I moved across the street from his parents. His mother wore a similar look, and her pride in him was evident enough for me to quickly realize that he was the real deal, through and through. Randy Hornburger, wherever you are, I see your smile still, and find ease in the magical echo it left behind.