Once upon a time, son, they used to laugh with their hearts and laugh with their eyes: but now they only laugh with their teeth, while their ice-block-cold eyes search behind my shadow.
There was a time indeed they used to shake hands with their hearts: but that’s gone, son. Now they shake hands without hearts while their left hands search my empty pockets.
‘Feel at home!’ ‘Come again’: they say, and when I come again and feel at home, once, twice, there will be no thrice- for then I find doors shut on me.
So I have learned many things, son. I have learned to wear many faces like dresses – homeface, officeface, streetface, hostface, cocktailface, with all their conforming smiles like a fixed portrait smile.
And I have learned too to laugh with only my teeth and shake hands without my heart. I have also learned to say,’Goodbye’, when I mean ‘Good-riddance’: to say ‘Glad to meet you’, without being glad; and to say ‘It’s been nice talking to you’, after being bored.
But believe me, son. I want to be what I used to be when I was like you. I want to unlearn all these muting things. Most of all, I want to relearn how to laugh, for my laugh in the mirror shows only my teeth like a snake’s bare fangs!
So show me, son, how to laugh; show me how I used to laugh and smile once upon a time when I was like you.