“Smile, it’s a turkey of a holiday!”

Ah, Thanksgiving. It’s like a dress rehearsal for the big show – December. And by dress rehearsal, I really mean “stress test.” And so it was this past Thanksgiving, as I walked down Bayview.

There are the people wreaking traffic havoc as they creep along in their cars, hoping for the miracle of miracles: a legal street parking spot. While others – the truly privileged – are stopped entirely, hazard lights on, as their partner dashes into Dollarama for “just a roll of tin foil!” The tinted windows on their Cadillac Escalade shield them from the eye-lasers aimed at them. Inside, a loud Taylor Swift drowns out most of the frustrated honking.

On the sidewalks, it’s not much different. Everyone is on some form of mission that revolves around the impending turkeyfest. People impatiently scurry around each other trying to get the best potted mum, or most unblemished, GMO tomato. And we’re all smiling. Sort of. Most of the smiles I witness seem based on some level of stress. Not mine. Mine is steeped in serenity.

That’s because I decided to be stress-free this year. Just one stop: Cumbrae’s. A Thanksgiving dinner, prepared in tin foil pans, ready to heat and eat. Done. Sure, go ahead, call me lazy, but I am the only one with a genuine smile on their face this day. All the others are really just masks. Among the dozen or so I encountered, there were some standouts:

The Botox smile: Not a result of any injection, but the look is the same. This is a smile with eyebrows raised above wide, unblinking eyes. It’s usually shot at someone trying to butt into line. If a smile could kick, this one would be a high roundhouse to the noggin.

The squinty smile: A multi-purpose, personal favourite. It’s a passive-aggressive smile that says, “I’m going in the door before letting you come out.”

The “Are you moving?” smile: It’s the smile we give to that person sitting in a parking spot, brake lights on, just waiting, and as such believes they have no obligation to pay. So, there they sit, on their phone, in that selfish limbo land of parking-but-not-parking.

The no-lip smile: The lips are thin, almost invisible, and flat. The non-verbal equivalent of, “You can see my hands are full so could you hold the damned door open?”

The proud smile: This is the smile usually worn by the married man because he finally picked up the exact items he was told. Also known as the smile of massive relief.

The “other” tip smile: This one is a two-fer: two smiles for the price of one. Both the giver and the recipient exchange their own very different versions with one another. It’s the smile you give when you are passed the payment machine and asked for a tip even though you’re just picking up food, not dining in, and not sitting down. The suggested tips are tiered at 15%, 18%, 20%, Other. You pick “other” and punch in a zero. Or, feeling guilty, maybe you punch in a number less than 15. (Which is almost more of an insult than zero, I’m told.)
You give a sheepish smile. The receiver, upon viewing your selection, asks if you require a receipt, while shooting back their version that says, “Really, schmuck?” (Not that I do this, of course.)

With that, I leave with my takeout and walk past Passion Fruits where I come face to face with the Tin Foil Dollarama Dasher. I go to my left, they go to their right. They go to their left, I go to my right. Rinse, repeat. I chuckle at this awkward mirrored sidewalk shuffle we’re caught in. Unamused, my dance partner treats me to the “get out of my way, you idiot” smile and runs off to their waiting car, leaving me slightly deflated. I raise the corner of my mouth and give my “whatever” smile. Their Escalade’s door swings open and Taylor Swift responds in kind, “Shake it off, shake it off.…”

Along with being co-founder of advertising agency Grip Limited, and partner in ManleyUnderwear.com, David Crichton has won numerous awards for his writing, including a Kitchener-Waterloo Kiwanis Club Silver Trophy, in Grade 7.