January 30, 2014 – Peaches walked around the chicken yard today repeating the same phrase over and over – “Say, Cheese!!” What does that even mean? I don’t think I’ve ever had cheese, let alone utter the word. When I asked her why she kept saying it, she explained that photographers tell their models to “say cheese” before a portrait is taken, to draw back their lips and show more teeth.
“It makes for a pleasant smile,” she concluded cheerfully. “Don’t you think we all should have a pleasant smile?”
“But we don’t have lips!” Sawyer argued. “Or teeth!”
“Well, then how in the tattooed bat wing are we supposed to know if a chicken is smiling?” Peaches asked, suddenly perturbed.
I never thought about smiling before. I ran straight to the mirror and tried it for myself. Sawyer did as well. Try as we might, as stretched and as strained as we pulled our facial muscles, we could not smile. The closest we came was an open beak, bug-eyed, tongue waggling pose that seemed far more frightening than pleasant.
“Maybe we show happiness through our eyes,” Sawyer suggested, running through a series of self-expressions from a smoky-come-hither glance to an, “I’ve-got-a-stick—in—my-eye!”
No, we all agreed. That can’t be how we smile.
“Maybe we walk a certain way,” I proposed, swinging my hips at an exaggerated pace with eyes wide open.
“You look like a crazed hula dancer!” Peaches laughed.
Finally, Mom stopped by to check on us and we asked her the question – “How do you know when a chicken in smiling?”
“That’s easy,” Mom responded – “When it’s happy.”
And then she was gone.
The three of us stood in silence waiting for the comprehension of her insight to pour over us and settle in.
“Well, that doesn’t make any sense at all!” Peaches said, breaking our philosophical trance.
“I’m with you,” Sawyer nodded. “I don’t get it either.”
“Are you kidding me? Mom is brilliant!” I exclaimed. “It’s completely logical! I am Happy, therefore, I am always smiling.”
“Oh, brother,” Peaches mumbled, rolling her eyes. “I wish Mom had named you, Gertrude.”
I can’t describe it in words, but I know for sure that what Peaches said, made Sawyer smile.