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Don’t You Go Smirking at Me

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By Bill Koch, editor

By Bill Koch

It’s the smirk. You see it frequently in local meetings, from political pundits on television and on self-righteous politicians.

The verb smirk means to smile in an irritatingly smug, conceited or silly way.

People who smirk make me smirk.

The smirk by its very nature is wrong. Watch people who smirk.

Are they smirking because they’re happy? Not really.

Are they smirking because they’re full of joy and ready to celebrate? Nope.

Are they smirking because they’ve just reached some praise-worthy goal? No way.

They smirk because they apparently find comical the antics of lesser or more wayward human beings. The smirk is that faux badge of moral and intellectual superiority – and it’s always self-applied.

The elderly may use it to display their displeasure or disorientation with the “youth today” – who aren’t old or mature enough to know how to use the smirk correctly.

What’s remarkable about the “youth today” is that the “youth today” has always been around and everyone has once been one of those ignoble “youth today.”

Of course, for the expert smirkers, they were never like the youth today. In fact, the line to set up the inevitable, self-justifying smirk starts something like this: “In my day ….” Then it proceeds to sound something like this: blab blab blab blather blather blather. 

Of course, even Socrates complained about the youth today and probably even began some of his eloquent expositions with “in my day.”

The smirk – and perhaps other more vocal and vociferous expressions – is often used in traffic when one of those youth today creatures goes mindlessly zipping aggressively and dangerously along on State Road 200.

The smirk is used against politicians, public servants and even waitresses who don’t seem to do their jobs at myopically high levels of surreal expectation.

Smirkers, by the way, believe they have a right to smirk. After all, if only everyone lived up to their obviously sterling standards of ethical and intellectual achievement, the world would be perpetual roses and daisies.

The smirk, however, is rarely deserved. Only omniscience can grant a smirker the right to smirk. And since we can’t really know why people do what they do, why human systems fail or why the targets of smirkers commit their heinous offenses against the sensible smirking community, we don’t have a right to paint smirks across our faces.

Employing patience and compassion far exceed any imaginative justifications to apply the smirk when encountering life’s inevitable frustrations.  

Now lest you succumb to the onerous temptation to smirk inappropriately or sarcastically, I suggest trying the alternative; the silly grin accomplishes so much more.

It scares people.

One last item: I can’t let you off the hook so easily. Send me your best (or worst) smirking picture so that I can show the world this area’s top scalawags: editor@smcitizen.com.

(You know, of course, I’ll be smirking at them.)