On my FAQ post, the responses were mainly about my smile. I thought I’d try and share with you some of the most memorable encounters I’ve had with people due to my smile.
As a kid, it was a non-issue for my friends and family. It was just how I smiled. It was a part of me that made me unique. I had a few negative experiences, one of which comes readily to mind. It was easy to find people to play a baseball game in the Presbyterian Church field. It wasn’t really a baseball diamond – we just made it that way. One day, after months and months of my ignoring this kid who kept calling me “crooked lip,” I cracked and called him by his middle name. He threw down his glove and came toward me ready to kick my ass. I stood my ground and said, “You’ve been calling me “crooked lip” for a long time and I didn’t do anything about it. This is the first time I called you by the name your parents gave you and you want to fight me? That’s pathetic!” He backed down, walked back to his position and never talked to me again.
When I was younger, my mom sent us to the Fraser’s house while she was at the hospital delivering babies (I think it was Carl but it could have been Mark & Martie). All I know is that I was standing up in the rope swing hanging from the Fraser’s tree. My brother, Doug came out and decided to spin me around. I guess when I yelled “STOP” he heard “SPIN FASTER!” I couldn’t hold on and I flew face first onto the sidewalk. To make a long story short, I broke my nose and I lost about 5 baby teeth. The rushed me to the hospital and I ended up needing surgery to put my face back together. The first thing I found out about after I got out of the hospital was that Mr. & Mrs. Fraser wanted to make sure my smile wasn’t ruined! I thought that was really weird at the time, but now it’s a fond memory.
While in boot camp in the Army, I met people from all across the country. This was my first experience meeting a large group of new people who I thought must have seen my smile as an oddity. No one said anything or asked about it until one day, with a big grin on his face, a fellow soldier gave me a nickname. He said, “I’m going to call you Turnip.” When I asked why, he said, “Because your lip turns up when you smile!” I laughed hard at that one!
Since then, there have been random strangers asking me about it. As I age, people have started asking me when I had my stroke. I just tell them I was born with it and that’s the end of the conversation. One time recently, I was sitting at a bar. Next to me was a guy with a hearing aid who seemed roughly my age. We started talking and it turns out that he was an artilleryman for the Army and we both served at Fort Benning,Georgia. He couldn’t stop thanking me for my service to the country. I assumed his hearing aids were the result of blowing shit up. Out of the blue, he said “what happened to your face, did you have some kind of a heart attack?” After briefly considering laughing and correcting him that he meant to ask about my stroke, I just told him about the forceps.
It’s really a non-issue for me. If nothing else, it’s a conversation starter. It hasn’t stopped me from landing a job, making friends, or having children. Actually, that reminds me. There were a few times while holding a toddler (mine or a niece or nephew), that they would inevitably try to mimic my smile. It made me laugh every time!
Everyone has something that makes them unique. Lucky for me, mine also makes me awesome!