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Surviving By a Smile…*

I’m far from beautiful. With wrinkles, sun damage, creases, dark patches, oily spots, circles under my eyes. Grey-streaked black hair.

Weight-wise? A life-long yo-yo ~ big-time. With pictures to prove it. Under lock and key.

But…once I was a beauty queen. The Toronto Stars “Most Beautiful Baby of 1949” ~ here’s the winning photo.

Judge for yourself…

Now, six decades later, I’ve grown accustomed to my face. Naked. Wrinkles and all.

Gradually, I’ve stopped wearing make-up. I’m allergic to everything. No one really notices. Not my students. Not my dogs. My husband can’t see the difference.

Except lipstick. It’s taken me a lifetime to find my favourite brand. By Shoppers Drug Mart“Quo” is me.

I take painstaking care applying it. For one reason.

My best feature. My smile.

I love dazzling.

This past Thursday, I was booked on a new Internet TV show. I’ve guested lots on TV. Written my own scripts and read them on TV. Appeared on radio for years. Even Internet radio.

I have a perfect radio face…

This was my inaugural web TV experience.

I didn’t think about it until Marty was sitting in the car, waiting for me to emerge ~ attired in my new “Bohemian chic” look, mysterious behind my big black vintage prescription sunglasses. He always drives me to the subway five miles away.

Then, suddenly …

“You’re not doing radio and your face is naked!”

Without make-up, hard TV lights would disembody me. But nothing like radio.

I panicked. Dashed back upstairs. Madly grabbing gunk  to”dress” my face. Stuff to make it look naked. Like I’m not wearing make-up — just finished.

This takes twice as long. Absurd, when you think about it, but who was thinking?

There’d be no make-up person at…

Marty started fuming. The clock ticked-tocked. I courted arriving in the middle of a live broadcast of Let It Heal ~ where I’d be the only live guest.

Naturally, the other two were appearing courtesy of Skype.

A month before this weekly, hour-long show premiered in April, Host Amber Korobkina contacted me.

“Would you appear on my opening segment about Mental Health? You’re the first person I’ve asked.”

I couldn’t say no, but April was out. We rescheduled for Thursday, May 4 ~ Mental Health Awareness Week. Better.

Then The Toronto Star pink slipped me. We relaunched independently five days later. We re-relaunched here, 18 days after that ~ Monday.

When finally I jumped into the car in my “finished-looking face,” Marty was overheated.

We were 15 minutes behind schedule. Heavy traffic time. Spring a.k.a. “Construction.” was like no TV studio I’d ever seen…

Despite high anxiety, I arrived at in a seedy-looking Bay Street building at 9:30 a.m. No one was there except the director and the morning man. I was early.

A little jittery, I’d miscalculated by 60 minutes.

Time passed quickly as I tried figuring out how Internet TV worked ~ with no lights. Open windows. Inner city traffic noises and siren screeches wafting through the place.

I couldn’t see any cameras.

“There are cameras everywhere,” said Blue, the only camerawoman.

Uh, oh. Was it 1984? Was Big Brother producing this show?

“Don’t worry,” she said, about the 10 lbs. TV instantly adds.

“We all look heavier. It’s relative. Relax.”

That did it. I wanted out. Had to relieve myself. Amber arrived. It was a done deal. No turning back.

And it was over before I knew it.

“We don’t need lights. Your smile lights this place up.”

I was so anxious, I must have beamed like an utter fool while talking incessantly for 30 minutes straight. Cannot remember anything said. Except that Skype was staticky on guest number two. Guest number three phoned-in and was hard to decipher.

No wonder they loved my smile. Its technology works without a glitch.

When will Let It Heal air?

“In 48 hours when the link goes up it’s on forever…”

(Sandy, here and sorry for the interruption but this is relevant. Really relevant: It’s 3:27 p.m. on Mother’s Day – Sunday, May 9, 2010 – and guess what? Here’s that LINK! to the show I was on on Thursday called “Let It Heal” … I have to run out and buy salad stuff for our annual “Mother’s Day” celebration so I haven’t seen it yet. You let me know what you think, when you get a chance, okay!” xox

“You get to be the reviewer – what fun – and let me have it. Or Amber or Amy or Dr. Berman from Pennsylvania. I’m most curious about what you think and why? Don’t worry, I have very thick skin. Happy Mother’s Day!)

Back  to Reality in Toronto, 12:20 p.m. – Thursday, May 7, 2010 …

“Oh, well,” I thought, re-entering the real world. “Maybe no one will hear anything. Maybe my dazzle will drown me out.”

Maybe I’ll be saved by my smile. Again.

*Kudos to Ron Pies, MD and Sheila who inspired this post in their comments about resilience.

Surviving By a Smile…*

Sandy Naiman

Sandy Naiman is a Toronto freelance journalist.

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APA Reference
Naiman, S. (2019). Surviving By a Smile…*. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 23, 2019, from


Last updated: 25 Mar 2019
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