Tingo Tuesday: Tell Me About A Blue Smile

Cover of

Cover via AmazonIt’s Tingo Tuesday!

It’s Tingo Tuesday!

The first Tuesday of each month, I share a word from The Meaning of Tingo & Other Extraordinary Words From Around the World by Adam Jacot de Boinod.

Today, I’m telling you about a Welsh word.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of an insincere or mocking smile? Well, then you got the “glas wen.” Literally, a blue smile.

There is this chick that I know. My husband golfs with her husband. She hates me. And she flashes me a big, fat “glas wen” every time we run into each other, which — luckily — isn’t often.

I love that other cultures have language for the actions and concepts for which we haven’t necessarily got the right words.

So now it’s your turn!

Leave me a comment about a time when you received a “blue smile” and get a complete makeover for just $79.99.

Seriously, if I love your comment the way my husband loves his green blanket, I’ll slip a photo of you into my sidebar so folks can check you out all month!

If you are not a blogger, don’t worry. I have plans for you, too.

This month’s winner is Jess Witkins. To see the comment that won her a month of linky-love, click HERE. It is a masterpiece!

Tell me about a (real or fictional) “glas wen” moment. What happened? How bad was it?

tweet me @rasjacobson

You have until December 31, to enter a comment! The winner will be revealed on the first Tuesday in January!

73 responses to “Tingo Tuesday: Tell Me About A Blue Smile

  1. My niece came to visit. She’s 5 and sassier than the sequin Hello Kitty pants she wears. She walked in as I was getting ready. I was particularly proud of the outfit I’d chosen as it consisted of pants with an actual zipper and a sparkly shirt gloriously lacking in mystery stains. I asked her if I was looking fierce or hot or supa fly or whatever the hell it is you kids call it and there it was: a giant glas wen on her tiny,smug face. “Ummmm, yeah. It’s, um, pretty? Hahahaha” she wouldn’t stop SMILE LAUGHING AT ME. Nothing like getting mocked by a mini human to cut a sister down to size.

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  2. Congrats to Jess! I love this series, Renee – what a cool idea! I can’t think of a “glass wen” moment right now, but I have my characters flash a few of those, LOL. Have a great week!

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  3. I have and it sucks! It’s kinda like they are saying, “Good for you bitch!”
    Luckily I don’t have to deal with many rude people, but I did run across one on my tennis team this summer. Every time I came on the court she gave me that teeth baring growl of a smile. What did I do? Made her engage with “bubbly me” and she always fled to another court!

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  4. I have this neighbor who doesn’t like me. (Can you believe that?? What’s not to like?) Anyway, she avoids eye contact with me at all cost, in church, in the grocery store, anywhere. One day a few years ago my son’s lacrosse team was playing in a tournament out of state, and she and her kids were there, too. I saw her near the concession stand as I was approaching with a friend (to whom I had mentioned this neighbor’s peculiar behavior), and I decided to make a game out of it. My friend approached her from one side, and I approached her from the other. We flanked her from both sides of the column she was trying to hide behind to avoid me. Then I gave her the big Southern “Hello!” and called her by name. Then she gave me a big old “glass wen” smile and returned my greeting.

    Then I think she peed in her pants, because I hugged her. Right there in front of everybody.🙂

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  5. I’m sure I’ve received (and probably given) many of these over the years, but there’s a very specific image that comes to my mind when I read the term’s definition.

    Whenever I’d visit my brother at the bakery he worked at for a couple of years, he’d bare his teeth with a slight upward twitch of his lips and make me shudder.

    “You need to stop doing that, dude.”

    “I have to smile. My bosses make me.”

    “That’s not a smile. That’s terrifying. If I were a customer, I’d think you were going to attack me.”

    And yet, he kept it up the entire time he worked there. I’m glad I’ve never seen that smile with him on the other side of the counter, because I’d go running for the hills for sure.

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  6. I love Tingo Tuesday! Such a great idea for an ongoing feature!

    So … one of my favorite glas wen moments occurred recently when I complimented another mom from my daughters’ school. We have similar body types and taste in clothes, and I love the way she dresses. She’s never been particularly friendly to me and I’ve wondered why, but didn’t think too much of it.

    I went up to her and said some version of “I love your dress and always admire your style. Would you mind telling me where you shop for clothes?” She shot me a glas wen, looked me up and down and said in what I heard as a condescending tone “Oh. Well. You always look, ah, [pause, pause, pause] ‘nice’ too.” I wish I could have said something witty, pithy or interesting, but I didn’t. But, I’ll be ready for next time – “Oooooh, you’re so good at giving glas wen! See you later!”

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    • Hahahaha! Awkward. I once announced that someone was my best friend in a large crowd and in front of the person. Apparently, the feelings were not mutual. Or she was just not used to a public declaration because she shot me a serious glas wen. I was so embarrassed! We joke about it all the time now. But in the moment it was awful. I’m glad you are digging Tingo! Believe it or not, the author actually contacted me about this series. I was thrilled and plan to write about it in a future post. Shhhhh! Don’t tell!😉

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  7. I love the blue smile. I call it the smile-that-makes-it-look-like-the-person-is-suppressing-a-fart.

    Fifteen years ago, an English department head used to get this smile whenever someone suggested a better way of doing things, something she couldn’t handle. Yes, I received that blue smile many-a-time from her.

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  8. My ex was a walking glas wen. The only emotion you could be sure was legit was fury.

    I can’t think of much right now. To be honest, Renée, I rarely look anywhere but in the eyes. Reading people can be a bit of an art form, but the eyes (almost) always hold the truth.

    I always enjoy Tingo Tuesday. The cunning linguist in me always enjoys having new words to play with. 😉

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  9. There’s someone here I often get the glas wen from. Well, now that she doesn’t pretend she doesn’t know me anymore. Because that went on for about 2 years. We “met” about 5 times. That was fun too. I’m not quite sure what I did to earn the glas wen from her, but I sure don’t like her either, so maybe I glas wen her right back!

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    • Don’t you LURVE people like that? I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, but – as you pointed out – after a few years of being utterly insignificant, it’s too exhausting. Especially when there are people who can ill us up rather than drain us.

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  10. From my MIL. She was (rip) a True Alabama Southern Lady. I was a gypsy with unknown linage from Oregon. She also said “Bless your Heart” A lot!🙂

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  11. Ok so I’ve got one where I both received and gave a blue smile.

    I was a middle school substitute teacher (is there a more dignified profession? Answer: Yes. All of them.). I did a few gigs where I covered for teachers that were on long term leave but the worst was when I was assigned to In-School-Suspension (ISS) for a semester. For people who don’t know what this is, basically it’s an incubator for future competitors in the World Chair Throwing Competition.

    One particularly angry young man got into it with me several times. He had at least 2-3 inches in height, and a good 40 pounds on me (I was an ultra-competitive distance runner at the time, probably 150 soaking wet). I knew from talking to teachers and staff that he had a rough family life, so I always cut him some slack, but I had no idea where his attitude came from until I met his mother one day. It was after he’d thrown a chair at me (like I said, he was in training) and she’d been called in to take him home. She walked into the classroom and the very first thing she did was fix a nasty, crinkled up smile and mock me in front of her son…. “so you couldn’t handle [student name] huh?” At this point, I think I have to explain that most teachers I know have two selves at all times. One is the professional self, who cares about doing the right thing and is thinking about how to be effective and compassionate. The other is the casual self who just happens to comment on stuff, mostly internally. In this case professional self said something like “It has been a difficult day but we’re working through it” while casual self silently said “Oh. I see now why your son throws chairs. Because his mother is a jerk.”

    I signed him out, wished him a good day and said I hoped to see him again, and as his mother walked out of the classroom she couldn’t resist a parting shot, saying “I know you’re small but next time don’t be afraid to use a text book” meaning that I should have hit him with it. She’d been giving me the blue smile the entire time, a low down, mean, disgraceful smile…but when she left I gave her the biggest, fakest smile possible and wished her the most insincere “have a nice day” of my entire life.

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    • Can I marry you AND another blogger at the same time? (I proposed to Lisha a few comments back) I love this story, too. I work with the little versions of your Chair Thrower and their mothers, so I know your pain. Plus this, “Oh. I see now why your son throws chairs. Because his mother is a jerk.” is pretty much the best sentence I’ve read in ages.

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      • I accept=P

        I wasn’t sure if I explained the setting enough, but I figured anyone who’s taught would recognize the Mother from Planet Terrible. I’m a professional and decent person so I didn’t, but I wanted to say something snotty e.g. “I know you’re ignorant but don’t be afraid to open and actually read a book.”

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    • Holy Shizzlesticks! As a teacher of 22 years, you have nailed it. Teachers have to master “glas wen.” I think it was a course in my graduate school. You have to save it for those mothers. Apples don’t fall from pear trees. And chair throwers? Well, I guess maybe he would have understood textbook? Great story, Joe!

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      • Thanks, yes unfortunately she was not an isolated case, as I’m sure you can attest to. The sad thing is when he actually opened a book or worked on something, he was a smart and sensitive kid. I hate to say it, but I think he would have been better off without her in his life.

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  12. The glas wen (fake smile) winner in my life goes to…the snotty rich girl in fourth grade, Debbie. She was in her brand new rainbow Keds. Being the child of hippie parents, I was in my bell bottoms, marijuana leaf t-shirt and probably hadn’t showered in a few days. On the first day of school, I could feel her eyes piercing through me at a distance.

    As I sat at my desk, she walked up and leaned over. I could feel her warm breath on my cheek. With a really big FAKE SMILE, she began her “I am better than you” interrogation. Where do you live? What do your parents do for a living? Why are you wearing those pants? I stuttered the answers to her rambling questions.

    And in one final sting, she reached over with both hands and pinched my chest (ahem; I say chest because no breasts were truly happening in fourth grade). She then gave me one last “glas wen” and skipped away. I felt violated.

    I knew at that moment – a smile was not always a smile.

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    • #1: I hate that stinkin’ Debbie.
      #2: I can’t believe she gave you a purple nurple.
      #3: I would have been your best friend! I also had the corduroy bell-bottoms and often inappropriate t-shirts. I know about those interrogations. Do you know where your Debbie landed? She sounds like a gem.

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      • Thanks, Renee! I knew you’d be on my side. Believe it or not – she’s a psychologist now. How sad for her patients, right? My optimistic side hopes that maybe she’s changed. But for some reason I doubt that. I saw her at my class reunion a few years ago, and avoided eye contact. Once you get a glas wen, it scars you for life.

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  13. Yay! I won the Klemmerspeck contest! Everything in my comment was totally true. And I’m still intending that to be the title of my makeshift cookbook. LOL. Thank you for the blog love, Renee, it’s a BIG honor!

    My glas wen moment…that one’s trickier. I have and have had associates on my team who like to do that because they don’t like change and use intimidation to get what they want. It usually comes with a request and then a threat like, “Could I have my attendance points adjusted for such and such…you know since you did it for so and so?” Yah, that happens with some of my people. Consequently behavior like that on MY TEAM last year led to me pulling two grown women associates into the stockroom during the holiday rush where I reamed them out (yah I yelled) for their poor behavior to new team members and I don’t think I even bothered with a glas wen when I told them to shape up or ship off. Haven’t had nearly the same issues this year as last. It kind of circulated that you don’t want to get pulled into the stockroom by Jess. *shrug* Do your job, play nice with your other team members, and I won’t do that!

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    • It is extremely difficult or me to imagine you getting all freaky on one one in the stockroom. You are Gentle Jess of the Happiness Project. It’s hard to imagine you holding a shiv to anyone’s throat. But I know the holiday season is your undoing! I hope this one is going smoothly.😉

      And congratulations for being this month’s featured blogger! You deserved it!

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  14. Am I breaking the rules if I tell you about a time (or many times) I’ve GIVEN a glas wen? Because, basically, that’s every moment at my job – ESPECIALLY when asked the following:

    Did you do your due diligence and collect voice of the customer?

    Where is the transition plan located?

    Do you think we should host a “lunch and learn” to go over the new process?

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    • Oh boy. In my exp. 90% of the time when a co. collects the “voice of the customer” they’re just being patronizing and not really looking to make positive changes to their business practices. Pretty hard not to Glas Wen’em.

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      • I actually think its great how much data is collected through VoC tools like ForeSee or OpinionLab, but I find it crazy how little Customer Experience groups incorporate them into site re-design and making real change to the experience. The Lines of Business often buy in but if the company is not invested in all areas, VoC does come off as condescending. One of the best VoC models is Marriott. They rock it. I am an analytics nerd. Sorry to interrupt🙂
        Kiran

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    • I have no idea what any of you is talking about.
      But.
      I’ll bet when Julie flashes a glas wen, no one knows. Folks probably just think she is perky. And jaunty.😉

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  15. One of my friends can’t tolerate seeing someone who is more successful than him. I think it’s fine as human it’s fare if someone is so competitive. But the funny thing is that, he doesn’t try to express his feeling to any of us; because he realize it would not help him to be part of that list of good people. So, as you can guess, although he hates few of us who are more successful than him, still he flashes that big “glas wen” every time we meet him. Honestly, we have somehow accepted him with this “glas wen” which he keeps on flashing. We know he does this with jealousy, but still leaving this quality of him behind, he is a good person.🙂

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    • Oooh, Arindam. I think that one is tough. Sometimes I read about all my blogging friends’ successes, and while I feel excited for everyone, sometimes I also feel a little jealous, too. I wonder if I wouldn’t be guilty of flashing a little blue smile in those moments, if I’m being honest with myself. Hmmm. It’s an ugly though. I am happy that everyone is moving forward, getting published, etc. But sometimes, I feel like I am being left in the dust. Try to have compassion for this chap. Secretly, he is hiding a fear. It sounds like you already understand that.😉

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  16. Renee, I am not going to agree with you when you say you feel jealous seeing your blogging friends’ successes. I think your personality comes out through your blog. And a person who is ready to appreciate work of fellow bloggers and who has the heart to promote talent with her own blog can never flash blue smiles.🙂

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  17. I LOVE that the Welsh have a term for that. I don’t have a story, but what immediately came to mind was a scene in “Grease” where they’re singing “Summer Loving” and Marty sings “like does he have a car” and flashes that smile.

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    • Pego: I watched that scene about six times. At first, I thought Marty’s smile seemed less malicious because she is actually expressing interest in Sandy. But then I realize that THAT is precisely the “glas wen” thing! She is being snarky and patronizing and making fun of Sandy, complete with a little wink. I’ve never seen that before! Nice to make me think so much on a Wednesday night!😉

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  18. I get a good Glas Wen just about everyday from my lovely seven year old son who must think I am the devil incarnate for asking him to at least try the vegetables on his plate.

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  19. I love that you picked a Welsh term. Our Au Pair is from Wales and has been teaching us a bit of Welsh here and there so I will also ask her if she has ever heard of the term.

    Oh boy, am I familiar with the ‘glas wen’. When I was a senior in High School, I didn’t know if I could afford to buy a dress for the prom. So I was thinking of not going. One of my friends, who was a Junior and already had her prom would not even hear of it and insisted I wear her gown, which was beautiful. A few days before the prom, two other girls realized they had the same gown as me. Both of them approached me separately and asked me to a) either not go to prom of b) to find a different dress. At that point I couldn’t. Holy shit – you should have seen all the “glas ven” I got that night – both from those two girls and their besties. I like to think the reason they were so upset was because I looked so much better in the gown. Ha. No seriously – it hurt a lot, but in the end I realize how much insecurity plays into things like this. Why have a blue smile, when you can give someone a true smile? I think as long as my smile is true, I can forgive the one that is blue.

    xo
    Kiran

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    • Holy moley, Spicoli! Kiran, that is a serious story! I cannot believe those girls asked you NOT to go to prom. What’s up with that?! I didn’t buy a new dress for my son’s bar mitzvah, and I knew of (at least) three other women who own the same dress I was planning to wear. Friends asked me if I was worried about showing up in the same dress. (Heaven forbid.) People URGED me to buy another dress. I didn’t think it was necessary. I loved the way I looked and felt in that dress. Plus, I figured if we all showed up in the dress, I’d have the photographer take our picture together. It would have been funny.

      I guess teens don’t think that way in high school, eh?

      I’m so glad you went to prom. And you are right — all those blue smiles are born out of insecurity.

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  20. I love this feature! I love the stories! So fun. I have received Glas Wen more often than I can count, given a few also. But I am going to pick on some friends of dearly beloved, in particular the self-entitled wife.

    I don’t drink because I am an epileptic, I have grand mal seizures and take very high dosages of anti-seizure medicine. It isn’t a big secret but it also isn’t party conversation. Every year my dearly beloved’s best friend has two big parties. His best friend is very wealthy. His best friends wife has learned to live happily with all that wealth. Both of them behave like teenagers at a frat party. For years I attended these two parties each year. Navigated the drunks. Said “No Thank You” to the repeated offers of drinks. Explained repeatedly why I don’t drink, as they and their guests became more and more obnoxious. She thought I was a ‘snob’. Dearly beloved frequently defended them to me, they were the source of arguments.

    Then in 2010, dearly beloved and I separated. His best friend and wife took him in. They live much differently than we do. House on one of the best golf courses in the city. Daily maid service. Did I mention his best friend is an Attorney? No. Oh, the tangled webs. She was throwing her friends at my husband. Didn’t work though. We reunited, after months of talking.

    First party. I didn’t want to go, but I did. I was still angry with them and didn’t know the full story. She met me at the door, big Glas Wen on her entitled fake tanned face. I of course thanked her for taking such care of my husband (I wonder how good of care she actually took since her husband is always inebriated). I wonder if my Glas Wen was bigger than hers. Same party same players as it has always been in the past. My dearly beloved has a few shots of tequila with his best friend and blurts out, ‘she’ told me to ‘divorce the b*tch”! The silence around the bar was deafening, her husband turned beet red, her Glas Wen froze in place and I burst out laughing.

    Perfect!

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    • Holy crowly, Val! That story is…um…hard. On one hundred levels. I can’t believe you had the ovaries to walk into that house to that party. Truly, you are a strong woman. Are you STILL friendly with these people? If so, you will have to explain to me what you get out of all of this. It sounds miserable. But wow. You should copy and paste this sucker and turn it into some kind of post ith a positive message — like you always do. Bless your heart, Val. And I tip my ginger ale to you!

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      • Oh Renee, are you kidding? I was never friends with them. I tolerated them for the sake of my husband. They were always so far off my radar, I simply tolerated their and that of their entitled friends behavior. But, the husband can be kind (when he is sober) and he and my husband are friends.

        After that and my real true laughter at the priceless look on her face. I never once stepped foot back in that house. Dearly beloved goes to the parties alone. He stops in, visits and then comes home. He doesn’t even ask me to go with him these days.

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        • Thank goodness. It didn’t sound like you to continue to go to parties like that. I’m glad Dearly Beloved has figured out how to go it alone to those things. I’m guessing you get a lot of reading and writing done on those nights.😉

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  21. I MUSN’T. I couldn’t. Oh, all right.

    The trouble with glas wens is that they provoke a Pavlovian response, bringing out let’s just say, not my best side. Like this morning! Put my yoga mat down in someone else’s favorite spot, and when she arrived a few minutes later, got a “Hi!” with daggers behind it. Hey. It was the last space left, and I got there first. This isn’t the Church of England where we have family pews. Aren’t we supposed to all peace and lovey? Aren’t we supposed to be learning FLEXIBILITY? Now, if she hadn’t given me that if-looks-could-kill, I might have moved over, and she might have said, no that’s OK, and we both would have come out clean in the wash, but oh no. We had to put all the reasons we need yoga in the first place on full display. “Hi XXX,” I said, and flashed a glas wen RIGHT BACK and let her squeeze miserably into a spot in the front of the room, where she hates to be because everyone can see her butt. Don’t know what she’s worried about. It’s a pretty good butt.

    Oh man. See what I mean?

    A glas wen is hard to forget, and my Pavlovian response to one can last for years. I remember discussing with a friend how much we allowed our children to watch television (his not at all). The conversation went something like this:

    Me: I let my kids watch TV for an hour a day, but only if they finish their homework and chores.
    Friend: But isn’t that the same as bribing them with TV?
    Me: No way. It’s putting TV last on their priority list.
    Friend: I just don’t see it that way. (Big glas wen)

    Fast forward twenty years and, still when I see that guy I think things like, hey, my kid went to X college and yours to x college, and yours is a waiter now and — Petty! Glas wen brings out my tit for tat! Maybe there’s a 12 step program for over-reactors to “blue smiles.”

    I’m enjoying the stories of your commenters. Very heartfelt, all of them!

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    • Julia: Oh, you so nailed it. In every situation. Those strained smiles. Why do we do that to each other? Why aren’t we more gracious and forgiving? Why are we so quick to judge? It is so ugly.

      I’ll bet that I can hold cobra pose longer than you can. *insert glas wen here*😉

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  22. My ‘glas wen’ moments are always from the ladies in my town that belong to this social group or that club or whatever. It’s the “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii … how are yooooooouuuuuu?” voice with the big fake smile. The conversation tends to sound like the teacher in Charlie Brown. waaaa waaa waaaaaa wa wa I haved learned to not friend them on Facebook and not be bother by their everyday glas wens.

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  23. Ooooh, I love this! WHen a smile isn’t a smile. So good. Immediately, I go to the hospital, my daughter fighting for her life and the doctor who absently told me “we’re doing everything we can…” and then offered what, perhaps he considered, a smile. Now I know what it really was. Glas wen. Thank you for giving it a name.

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  24. You know, I’m racking my brain here, and I have to say I’m having a hard time coming up with an example. And that’s a fabulous sign, I think. Of course, I do mostly spend my day with the under-four crowd, and they are not ones to employ a glas wen. No siree.

    So I dug back into the annals of my memory and came up with this gem:

    During my senior year of college, I was traveling to auditions for graduate school programs in music performance (extremely practical field, that). While I was fond of my teacher, he didn’t exactly prepare me at all for any of the graduate school application process, and I was more into the artistic expression part of music/life than the responsible/having a chance at acceptance part.

    Like, I wore a t-shirt to an audition. It was a nice t-shirt, but, still.

    At one school, the professor I met with was nice, friendly, very smiley. I played, we talked, he introduced me to some of the grad students. He even gave me a ride back to where I was staying. As I exited his car, he turned to me with a big grin and said,

    “Good luck. And next time, act like you’re applying for graduate school.”

    Sneak attack of glass wen!

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  25. The blue smile. I love it. There are two women who break in to a thin lipped “Oh it`s you” blue smile when I see them. Once I came up on them having lunch together and the whole table gave me the blue smile. Frosty. It was so obvious it was funny. I felt like saying, “Ladies- you`re closing in on 50, time to drop the cliquey mean girl routine.” Whatever. They`re not fun anyway.

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    • Hi Emily! I think lots of mean girls grow out of that phase. But some women grow into it. It’s a shame, really. Think of how much they miss out, clinging to each other. *whisper* Don’t they know their insecurities are showing when they do that cliquey-thing?😉

      Like

  26. Pingback: Tingo Tuesday: Tell Me About A Krawattenmuffel Moment | renée a. schuls-jacobson's blog

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