A while back I watched a baby smile .... and I remember thinking... she has no clue as WHY she's smiling...or even THAT she's smiling. She doesn't need a reason. It just comes naturally. As far as I know humans are the only creatures who CAN smile. And have you noticed how everybody looks better when they DO smile? ("A smile is a curve that sets everything straight."- Phyllis Diller)

God must have had a purpose in mind for both of those...I mean smiling...and looking better when you do. ("Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles." - George Eliot)

Think about it. Smiling starts at such an early age. When a baby is born we all have this in-bred determination to be the first to make it smile. And we absolutely rejoice when it does. "Coochie...coochie...coo..... DID YOU SEE THAT FRANCIS?!!! ...SHE SMILED!...SHE SMILED by golly!!! SHE SMILED!! "

"Yes George."

(Side note...do you know my spell-check has no idea of how to spell "Coochie"?... Is that because it can't smile?)

I don't want to overanalyze WHY we smile....when having our picture taken, or greeting someone, or reading, or listening, or talking, or watching. ("A smile is happiness you'll find right under your nose." - Tom Wilson)

Some people seem to smile when there's nothing to smile about. ("If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it." - Andy Rooney) We may think those are "naturally happy" people or, as I believe, some simply "choose to be happy"...(which is another entire subject.) But keep this thought...there's always something to smile about. ("Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." - Dr. Seuss)

Smiles are like Christmas presents. They're fun to give and they're even more fun to receive. ("A smile is a facelift that's in everyone's price range." - Tom Wilson)

Many believe a smile is good for your health. ("Always keep your smile. That's how I explain my long life." -Jeanne Calment; the longest confirmed human life span in history, living to the age of 122 years)

Give someone a smile and invariably they'll return it. ("I have witnessed the softening of the hardest of hearts by a simple smile." - Goldie Hawn) As I think back over the years, the only person who really didn't appreciate a smile on my face was my Army Drill Sergeant ("What's so #@% - &+#! funny Moan-rowww?" - Sgt. Sir)

Frequently when I end a conversation with someone I'll say "Keep smilin'!" Usually they'll look back at me a little surprised....then smile and say..."Yah...you too." ("Do an act of kindness today. Help one person smile." - Harvey Ball)

My wife, Betty, is one of the smilingest people you'll ever meet. (Unless you get on her spit-list.) She even wakes up with a smile. ("You're never fully dressed without a smile." - Martin Charnin). The only purpose of this column is to give you a smile or two each week (along with the other stuff.).

Sure there are fake smiles, sinister smiles, lying smiles, keeping-my-chin-up smiles and many more. But think of all the coy smiles, shy smiles, flirty smiles, the sweet, pleasant thought smile or the "I'm in love" smile. ("They gave each other a smile with a future in it." - Ring Lardner) There are also many indescribable smiles...like when you take that first bite of your favorite chocolate....or Haggis.

Since we're all humans, all smiles are understood by all peoples of the world. ("A smile is the universal welcome."- Max Eastman) You don't have to know the other person's language if you know how to smile. ("A smile is the key that fits the lock of everybody's heart."- Anthony J. D'Angelo)

But I think we can all agree ....the best smiles are the happy smiles... more so the joyous smiles. ("And the smile that is worth all the praises of earth is the smile that shines through tears." - Ella Wheeler Wilcox)

• • •

Charlie Chaplin couldn't have said it better when he wrote today's sing-a-long:

"There are smiles that make us happy,

"There are smiles that make us blue;

"There are smiles that steal away the teardrops,

as the sunbeams steal away the dew.

"There are smiles that have a tender meaning,

that the eyes of love alone may see.

"But the smiles that fill my life with sunshine

are the smiles that you give to me."


"Til next Wed ... choose to be happy... and keep smiling.

Dick Munro's "By the Way" is published each Wednesday in The Paper of Montgomery County.