I never think that what I say is funny, but for some reason people are in stitches when they talk to me. I guess it’s because I have no filter whatsoever. I literally say what I think and meant just what I said and how it came out. So, when people start laughing, I sit there, with a straight face, because I wasn’t really trying to be funny, but I’ll take that. My daughters joke all the time that I make “dad jokes,” you know, the jokes your father made that he thought were just hilarious but were never really funny. If you were like me, you would just stare, and blink slowly, maybe flash an awkward smile, as not to hurt his feelings, and then tell him, as kindly as you could, that you didn’t get it. In other words, I’m never funny when I’m trying to be, but when I’m just talking, people end up in stitches. This is why I could never do stand-up, even though people seem to think that I should.
I'm SUCH A Dad!
This was confirmed for me the other day. Well, it’s confirmed every day, but this particular day is the inspiration for this post. My pen sister and boo thang, Nai McCrae, asked me to help her choose an author photo. She sent me several, and as I looked at them, I couldn’t help but to see how absolutely beautiful she was. Nai is from NY, and I laughed, because it’s known that NY girls have a whole lotta attitude, right? Am I grouping here? I don’t think so. Lol. But looking at all her pictures, I noticed that she wasn’t smiling in a single one of them. The interaction that followed was one that we still talk about. Check the screenshot below…
What I say???
Nai was too tickled by my asking her what was wrong with her teeth, because that, in my opinion, was the only logical reason why a person would send me 3 photos without a single smile. Made sense to me, but to her, it was just one of those crazy, off-the-wall things that Joi let slip out of her mouth on the regular.
The other day, we were talking about her book, and she brought up that conversation. I went on to explain to her that it had a deeper meaning for me. I just started smiling again after a very long time. This was because I lost two teeth in the past year, due to malnourishment and stress while being in a abusive relationship. This was a humbling and painful thing for me, because my smile was one of the things that I valued, and that people always complimented me on. I was always smiling and people would ask me if I’d ever had braces because my teeth were so straight and pretty. My mama used to say that I had teeth like Whitney Houston or Denzel Washington, you know, those smiles that looked like they went on for miles. So, when I lost my teeth, it was a remembrance of a broken time. I was paranoid. I thought that every time I smiled, the people were looking at my broken teeth. It was bad bad.
My daughters tried to encourage me, telling me that the broken teeth gave my smile personality, and that it meant that I had a story to tell. But at this point, I was tired of having stories to tell. I had a million of them and didn’t need anymore. Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw those teeth that were missing, and it reminded me that so many people that I loved had hurt me. So many people used me and didn’t realize the damage that they were doing. So many walked away, seemingly unscathed, and I had a new scar in their wake. No one else treated me like my smile was any less bright and vibrant. They never acted as if I had lost any joy, but for me, it was hard to do, because I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that I hadn’t cared more about myself than to let someone break me in a way that was visible. Because you can hide internal brokenness, but the external scars are harder to cover up. So, I stopped smiling altogether.
I'm not breaking down, I'm breaking free!
That was, until I met Tamesha. She’s now my ex, but at the time that I met her, she changed things for me. See, T is missing teeth in the front and she hid her smile, too. I didn’t think that it made her any less beautiful, and I made sure that not only did I make her smile every day, but I told her just how beautiful I thought she was. That there was more to beauty than something as superficial as teeth. And I meant it when I said it to her, but still couldn’t see that in me. Isn’t it interesting how we can love on others and not love on ourselves?
One day, my oldest, Mango, pointed this out to me, and it made me laugh. My girls are always face checking me, and holding me accountable to myself. *gives self Mommy back pat*
You Hit Like A Bitch
I went and looked up a few things about being broken and scars, because we all need affirmations. The ones that I found, I’ve shared below. They reminded me that scars are not something to be ashamed of, but instead, something to pride yourself in. Being broken, like my children said, gives my life personality. And, it shows strength, because whatever broke me, tried to break me, or tried to destroy me, wasn’t strong enough. One of my favorite quotes is, “When life knocks you down, get up, smile, and say, ‘you hit like a bitch’.
So, dear life, you hit like a bitch. I’m still standing. Still here. And OBVIOUSLY stronger than anyone and anything that tried to break me. I now embrace my broken teeth like I do my stretchmarks. They’re a sign of growth. I might still get a grill put on them, ya know, ‘cause that shit would be swagadocious. But what I won’t do, is make me see myself as any less beautiful… and less powerful… any less dope.
And now, when I look at others who don’t smile, I ask them, “what’s wrong with your teeth”? It either makes them laugh, or is a great conversation starter, and chance to encourage the next person to smile, regardless. Because, in reality, a smile is SO much more than your teeth. And anyone who has an issue with it, fucc ‘em. You’re just so dope they had to find a flaw. Let them haters hate. Hating ain’t nothing but congratulating on the low…
So, smile. You deserve to have a little Joi in your life.
Til next time… Love you. Say CHEEEEEEESE!