Nothing affects men more than an imperfect smile!
The power that a woman’s smile possesses is truly remarkable.
There are many different kinds of smiles for many different kinds of situations. Each one of them can excite you, or tug at your heartstrings, or make you go “oh you little…!” and have you experience an overwhelming urge to just hug them.
When I come across a person with a pure smile that comes straight from the heart, I think to myself, “man, that’s so nice.” The smile a girl will have on her face when she wins at sports — is there anything better than that? And when it is a smile born under those kinds of circumstances, the person showing it is usually covered in sweat or dirt and they’re all messy. But even so, they just look adorable. They could be covered in mud for all I care — I’d still happily rub cheeks with them just to share in their joy. The smiles of the winning team at sports festivals… The smile of someone who’s just scored a strike when bowling… The smile of a person who’s eating something delicious and it just shows on their face as a smile. I adore them all.
Similarly, the smiles of Morning Musume when they took the first prize were so lovely. Me, I’m always the cynic — I could never be that genuinely delighted about it, no matter what sort of an award I’d received. “This isn’t going to last. There must be a catch to something as nice as this.” To someone like me, a smile like that would be impossible to replicate. I’m the sort of person who’d have to stare in the mirror, wondering “how does one smile as happily as that?“
You can see why I’m so easily drawn to those sorts of pure smiles.
For any girl out there in the world who know what she was doing, she’d probably have no trouble making a conscious effort of weaponizing her smile and getting her way with simpleminded guys such as myself. It does happen: there are women out there who use their smiles on men only to get them to buy them nice things or something to that effect. But the real sad thing is: although men understand full well that they’re being played, they let it happen to themselves regardless.
On the other hand, there are women out there who don’t use their smiles as a weapon against others; they use it as a shield to protect themselves. To me, it feels like Abe Natsumi may be one of those girls.
Abe debuted through the ASAYAN “Female Rock Vocalist Audition.” Back then, I was thinking about her in terms of “what if I was the same age as her?” — my “what if…?” series. In other words, I was judging these girls based on how I might feel about them if I was their age. There was obviously an age difference between me and them, and so if I didn’t try to see them from a different perspective, it would’ve resulted in me being contradictory with everyone else’s opinions.
The thing with Abe was, there was just this charm about her that struck us before we could even begin to contemplate if we should let her through or not. My first impression of her was that she was like the girl you’d definitely notice first at the school entrance ceremony. While your school might have someone more beautiful than her, or someone smarter than her, or someone who’s more athletic than her… Abe would definitely be ranked number one in the “charm” category. That’s how I felt about her.
The other members of Sharan Q were there as judges beside me, and the number of points Abe received from us was quite high on average. In fact, she was in a position where I didn’t even have to push for her to get through because the others would do it for me. So, I kept quiet instead. However, while I had no issue admitting the fact that she was cute, I actually found myself going against the others who were giving her a passing score. My reason for it was that we were conducting a “rock vocalist audition” — I figured that since the others all thought she was quite passable, that meant she might’ve actually been someone everyone would think of as being just mediocre. That is to say, I didn’t think she was suited to become a “rock vocalist.”
In other words, I felt that if it was a commercial about a household detergent we were making, she might’ve been the perfect fit to promote it. But to me, a rock vocalist should be somewhat of an “outlaw.” They need to have something rebellious about them; something that’s “not good.” Because rock isn’t about the music or the fashion. It’s about the soul; about your entire way of life. I didn’t want someone who’d fit right into that safe zone — I was looking for someone who would stand out in a place like that, as if they were somehow “defective.” That’s the sort of danger I sensed in Abe: she was a “common denominator,” someone everyone would accept.
But every now and then she would flash us these smiles that just made me think, “Wait, that was a fake smile just now, wasn’t it?” “Is this girl really smiling from the heart?” It happened several times. And that actually greatly helped to ease my concerns about her. “This girl isn’t perfect after all. She does have something rock’n’roll about her!” Had it been just a simple, innocent smile, it might not have left an impression on me. But the fact that I could sense something warped behind it… that felt very fascinating to me.
At the time, after having seen Abe, I commented that I thought her smile was scary. But the reason I said that is because I could sense that something behind her smile. I did not consider it to be a negative in the least. I didn’t know what exactly it was that Abe was hiding behind that smile of hers, but I liked it. That, to me, indicated her value and potential. Honest, bright smiles are fine, too, but Abe’s smile was the kind that can really shock men. Had we been classmates, I think I would’ve probably fallen in love with her at first sight.
As a producer, I was already very interested in Abe at this point. Her smile had sparked my interest and I could recognize her cuteness, and I was thinking about how I wanted to fix any of her negatives sides if she had any, or further improve her positive sides if she only had those. At the same time, I couldn’t wait to see her thorns that still remained hidden. Was it something calculated, or something innocent?
As I got to know Abe, it became obvious to me that her smile had been the latter. I soon recognized that there was nothing sinister about her smile after all. She was the polar opposite of the kind of woman who might approach a man and try to use her sex appeal to lead him on. She turned out to be this country girl, purer than pure, with no ulterior motive and nothing to hide. To people like me who grew up in the city, she seemed almost unrealistically pure.
Apparently, Abe used to get bullied in school before her debut. My feeling is that she didn’t let that discourage her or make her become timid — she probably used that smile of hers as a shield to get through it. Confronting the bully or trying to become friendly with them… There are lots of different ways to try and deal with bullying, but Abe may have tried to get through even something as difficult as bullying with her smile as her guard. Not a smile to try and curry favor with the bully, or a smile to try and blame them, but a smile to preserve herself.
Fake smiles tend to have a bad reputation, but I can’t flat-out deem them as all bad. In Abe’s case, even a fake smile can reveal a lot about her outlook on life — I feel that that is what Abe showed me through her smile at the auditions.
“If I could perfect that smile of hers, she would become a true rock vocalist.” A great smile — that takes real talent. There are some girls out there who, no matter how cute they are, just don’t shine when they smile. But the aura Abe has when she’s smiling really makes her sparkle, and I felt that if I could capture the moments when she’s truly smiling from the bottom of her heart, in her singing or when she’s on TV and such, that would be rock’n’roll. I think Abe hinted at that possibility through her smile; that I could help her reach that potential as her producer. There must have been that scent of rock about her.
But there was also something dangerous about her smile. “Here, teacher. I made you a lunch box!” It wasn’t a smile like that, aimed at just one individual — it was like a smile aimed at everyone in class, making it even more dangerous. It’s the kind of smile that would make you worry for her; that sooner or later someone might misread her intentions and get the wrong idea. And to the men of the world, when they see Abe’s smile, they’ll think she doesn’t even realize she’s doing it. “Oh no. I have to save this girl!” I bet lots of guys think that way about her.
In addition to that complicated smile of hers — to make matters worse — Abe also has that overly pure personality of hers. There’s something about it that makes men nervous for her. “If I don’t protect her, some minimally handsome, good-for-nothing guy is going to deceive her into falling for him! I have to do something!” It makes us men worry for her.
But then again, that sort of worrying over someone is part of what makes being a man so much fun.