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Magical World

Wouldn't it be lovely if, with just a twitch of the nose, life, or any aspect of it could be changed. Instead, positive changes always seem to involve tremendously hard work, determination, and endless setbacks. How lovely it would be to have the powers of Samantha Stephens.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Men Smile, Women Don't

I've been conducting an experiment for the past three months. Darrin and I were talking one day, and he said that men just don't smile. "They smile at me," I said. "Everyone smiles at you," he answered. Actually that's not true, but many people do--and some of them are men. So I told Darrin I was going to keep track of the genders of the smiley people and then I'd report back to him.

So the question is: Which gender smiles more--male or female. Darrin says the more accurate question is: Which gender smiles at ME--male or female. Either way, I decided to keep track.

I armed myself with a notebook, disguised as a shopping list, and hit the place most likely to have the greatest heterogeneity of people--Walmart. One is certain to find crying babies, precocious toddlers, slow-moving geriatrics, people in their near-dotage (ages 30-50), and teens/college students who have the enviable capacity to link the four-letter obsenity describing the sex act, to any unrelated object or person. I'm amazed at their ability to make the following phrases sound viable: "f....g good chocolate!!", "F....g amazing!!!", "That was f....g hilarious!!", "Look at that f....g hot guy!!!" When I heard the young lady responsible for that last phrase speak, I actually looked for the "f.....g hot guy", because I wanted to see if he'd get thrown out of the store for doing that in public. She was wrong--he wasn't doing what she had described.

I decided that my first subjects would be couples. I got ready and made sure that I passed inspection. DJ pronounced me "pretty hot, for a Mom," so I figured that was good enough. I went to Walmart, secured a cart, threw in some miscellaneous stuff, and got out my "shopping list." I approached a nearby couple. I looked the woman in the eye and smiled. She became absorbed in the pricing listed on the shelves. So I looked at the man and smiled. He looked surprised, then smiled back. The woman looked annoyed, so I smiled at her again. She looked away, but the man smiled bigger. The woman started walking away, quickly. Her partner followed, but as he passed me, he not only smiled again, he winked. Hmmmm....maybe I was overdoing it. I recorded the data, putting a smiley face in the "Male" column, and a frowny face in the "Female" column. I didn't have a column for winks.

Next I approached a family. There were two gorgeous boys scuffling in the aisle. Dad was annoyed, and Mom was ignoring everyone. I decided to try the sympathetic approach. I neared the fray, made eye contact with mom, and gave what I thought was an understanding smile. She ignored me, as well. Dad caught the smile, and returned it tinged with exasperation. He made some comment about shopping too long, I nodded, turned the corner and recorded the data. One more man smiley, woman frowney, no wink.

I decided to abandon the personal approach and just randomly smile at people. I walked down the aisle where people were finishing their checkouts. I made eye contact with eleven men and twelve women. Results: eight man smiles, two woman smiles. Notes: I had to smile at the two women three times, to get one back. The three men who didn't smile did nod at me. No column for nods.

I decided I had enough data, so I checked out and went home. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention to the assortment I threw into my basket at the beginning of the experiment. I paid $89.56 for some ace bandages, blonde highlighting kit, four tubes of assorted toothpaste, two baby outfits, a cd of the All American Rejects, some jeans (wrong size), and four cheap bath towels. I paid for everything, because I was trying to get the man behind me to smile. He didn't. I figured I could continue my experiment when I returned the highlighting kit, bandages, jeans and bath towels. DJ was happy with the cd, and I gave away the baby outfits. Next time I'll be more careful.

I returned to Walmart sixteen times over the next three months. The data never seemed to vary--more men smile than women. Some men follow you if you smile at them--no column for that data. No women follow you if smile at them. Some women get upset if you smile at a man they are with. No men get upset if you smile at a woman they are with. Darrin suggested that my experiment was gender flawed, because I am a woman, and I had no data showing what happens if the subjects are approached by a man. So I took him with me. We wandered the store smiling at people. At this jucture I must pause to state that both of us really do have lives, jobs, and families. We just have a good time being sidetracked from those things. Plus, Darrin has always been a willing participant in any trivial, inane activity I propose--definitely a reason why I love him. So now, back to the experiment. Darrin's presence DID make a difference. More men smiled. Fewer women. My ratio average had previously been about 10:3 in favor of the men. On our first store trek, the ratio changed to 15:1. Darrin suggested it was just an off day. We went to Alberstons and repeated the experiment. Ratio = 9:0. We went to Kmart. Ratio = 12:2. You do the math. Guys like to smile at my husband. Women just don't smile.

I repeated the experiment one last time. I brought Tabitha and Annie with me. We encountered 15 men and 20 women. Ratio = 15:20.

I have no idea how to interpret all this data.


  • At Tuesday, June 20, 2006 3:50:00 PM, Blogger Ward Cleaver said…

    Interesting study...what are the approximate ages of these "subjects?"

    Take a look at your kids' yearbooks. With my kids....I have noticed (mostly) in pictures...that most boys do NOT smile. It's something that just isn't "cool."

    I have also noticed that when I smile at a is received under suspicion. If I smile at a female...I'm a horny/dirty old man.

    America is too uptight and encapsulated.

  • At Tuesday, June 20, 2006 9:49:00 PM, Blogger Samantha said…

    A variety of ages are represented, fourteen years and older.

    Are you sure that those receptions you receive from a smile aren't coming from inside you?

    If you smiled at me, I'd smile back, no ulterior motives considered.

  • At Tuesday, June 20, 2006 10:30:00 PM, Blogger Th. said…


    Those are starlingly start results! I'm really stopped by that.

    But, just so you know, I would smile at you.

  • At Tuesday, June 20, 2006 10:55:00 PM, Blogger Samantha said…

    Yes, but you're a man--and thus, just a statistic.

    Now, if you were a WOMAN smiling at me, that would be unique.

    However, I must say, the smile would be appreciated, in spite of it's statistical probability.

  • At Wednesday, June 21, 2006 6:38:00 AM, Blogger Ward Cleaver said…

    It's hard to say if my interruptations of the experiment would be justified.

    Do you think that regional location has anything to do with it? For instance, certain (social) things "accepted" (or not) in the south?

    I find that men/women have certain "expected" roles/behaviors in the south.

  • At Wednesday, June 21, 2006 7:28:00 AM, Blogger Samantha said…

    Maybe YOU should try the experiment and let me know.

    I've never been to the south, unless you count L.A.--I don't think you can count that. I have known some southerners that now live here. They all smile. :)

    I did notice when I was back East that more men smiled at me there, as well. Even Darrin admitted that.

  • At Wednesday, June 21, 2006 8:47:00 AM, Blogger Kim Mack said…

    ::raising hand eagerly:: *I* would smile at you!!


  • At Wednesday, June 21, 2006 2:30:00 PM, Blogger Samantha said…

    Then you would be a statistical improbabity--but I'll take all the smiles I can get. :)

  • At Wednesday, June 21, 2006 5:42:00 PM, Blogger Kim Mack said…

    I think I've always been a statistical improbabity.

    ::still smiling at Sam::


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