My phone rang, it’s screen lighting-up with an old name from a precious memory. Excited, I picked up and heard the familiar voice of love. We had been best friends in a city where neither of us had any friends and to-date, even if we didn’t call for months, we always knew we had one of those unbreakable bonds.
As I was speaking to her, an urgent memory erupted in my brain and I shrieked, ‘It’s your birthday!’ She had already made plans with some other girlfriends and since she was in my city had called to ask me to join them. I could not say no.
We were a motley bunch of four women all meeting for the first time to celebrate this friend’s birthday. As the evening progressed and the whiskey-martinis vanished, we all indulged in the new-age technical ratification of celebration.
A WhatsApp group with the four of us was immediately formed. Selfies, which included Instagram and Facebook posts were posted with fervent frequency. The next day, as I was scrolling through the photos I realised something odd. Everybody had the same face for every single photo. Except me.
They were all flashing these pretty, radiant smiles, profile-turned-to-the-flattering-side, chin-up, cheeks stretched just-so, and there was I - in one I had my mouth open, in another I was scratching my nose, a third I was frowning at my neighbour’s glass and so on. Not one of my photos looked alike. I wasn’t sure whether the other women minded me spoiling their ‘we’ve had an incredible time, here’s the photo proof’ pose. My friend, oblivious to my dilemma, flew off the next morning, all geared to take the perfect selfie in another place.
For the next one week, I kept looking at the mirror and tried to practise a camera smile. The problem was that I felt really silly to give the same Stepford wife expression again and again. I spoke to my cousin, a veteran of the perfect-smile photograph. She told me I was overthinking it. To motivate me she even said that I brush my teeth every morning but I don’t get bored of it, and this is exactly the same thing.
Also read: Saving Yourself From Self Sabotage
Two weeks later there was another birthday. I tried out my smile and went marching with the confidence of someone who has a never-fail party trick. The next day I saw the photographs, I looked like a zombie - a lot of teeth and for some reason, a bored sadness dominated my face. The expert cousin was immediately called and the photograph was shared. One look and she had the solution. ‘Dummy, when you smile, remember to make your eyes smile’. Ah!
I can’t wait for the next party. I’m all geared-up now with the correct eye and lip stretch. Bring on the camera phones, my selfie face is ready.
Still Figuring It Out’ a funny, sad, questioning take on adulthood will appear every Saturday on Asianet Newsable. Arathi Menon is the author of Leaving Home With Half a Fridge, a memoir published by Pan Macmillan. She tweets at here. The views expressed here are her own.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 7:06 PM