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Five Hundred Smiles

     As if I hadn't done enough! Four hundred and ninety-nine Smile-breaks is not an easy task. Give me a break, I wanted to say—but I couldn't. Wouldn't be polite. Not that I'm always polite, but occasionally I observe the niceties. I do, too!!!

     "I'll work on another one," I promised. "When will we get it?" he asked. I could have lied. I do that occasionally, but this wasn't the time. I already promised I'd write one; that should be enough, I thought, so I fudged. "Soon," I said. Umm—maybe that was a lie? I hadn't had any ideas for a tart, smile-breaking episode for weeks so evidently I was hoping for a miracle.

     "How soon? Will we get it next Tuesday?" Persistent son-of-a-gun. . . "Maybe." I'm talking to myself in my head now. What am I promising? Can I deliver? Although. . . a wisp of a hope rises: there are always the old ones, ready to be rejuvenated and sent forth as if newly born.

     "Sure!" I summon up my bravest smile. "Next Tuesday." I'm still talking to myself in my head wondering how in the world I'm going to come up with something sparkly and smart-alecky in the next few days.

     So here I am. Sitting in Starbucks with my lovely computer, which never had an original thought of its own, whining about being asked to provide a few smiles to a few friends when I should be big-headed, completely flattered. "Wow! They like my stuff so much they can't go a week without it!" Okay, maybe it was three weeks. . . Four? Side mention here: "he" became "they" when he acquired an ally at the dinner table. I was surrounded; scant hope of survival.

     Otherwise it was a pleasant evening. Dinner out with friends. Nice atmosphere, good food, great conversation. No responsibilities for a whole two hours. If only something would have gone wrong. Unfortunately, nothing bad happened. I thrive on bad happenings—fodder for my brain to dissect and toss out to the world in a whirlwind of words. There's nothing so funny as when you goof up in front of a bunch of your friends at a fancy restaurant. But I didn't.

     I didn't spill wine on Jan's lap. I didn't forget to bring my credit card. I didn't dent any fenders in the parking lot. After dinner my Mazda6 was right where I left it; no one had thought to move it to make me go searching for it in the dark. I didn't forget where I'd parked. I strode across the lot straight to it. Could hardly miss it—it was sitting alone in the mostly abandoned lot.

     So no funny stories from my evening out. I'd have to go to the archives and pull a fast one, dust it off, tidy it up and put it in print for a second time, hoping no one would remember it from ten years ago. Now that would be the Ultimate Compliment if they did!
Is that cheating? Using an old one when you're fresh out of new ones? You have to put a big, glaring warning right at the top: REPRINT from. . . Oh, no. Not the year. That was so long ago. I'd rather not tell.

     BUT. . . I do want you to know you are privileged to be reading the 500th Smile-breaks. Maybe I should just start at the beginning again. Either way, I'll see you next week. I'm not telling—new or old. Gotta take your chances when it comes to smiling.

(This one is dedicated to "M."  He knows who he is.)

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