When I was 13ish, my cousin shared the movie My Girl with my younger sister and I. We had no idea what we were in for, the fun and funny coming of age story of a girl coming of age eventually left my sister and I completely destroyed, curled up in a balled weeping mess, hugging each other to hold back the feelings.* I remember it taking some time to calm us down, though my cousin claims innocence and no memory of this incident. Over the years, I’ve watched My Girl dozens of times and I’ve wept every time.
So, when My Girl 2 came out a few years later, I had to see it. It was… okay. Not nearly the amount of heart as I would have hoped.
But that’s not the point.
The point is there was one moment in the sequel I adored — when Veda finally sees a video of her mother and she sings the Charlie Chaplin tribute song “Smile” (the only available version of this scene is this really bad recording). I’m sure I cried, because I’m a big baby at movies. There was something about they way the actress who played Veda’s mom is so casual, singing it acapella, smiling to herself, an slightly embarrassed that captured me.
I loved the words, too. They are simple words, but sweet, speaking of holding to hope through hard times, something I could and still can relate to in the face of struggle. It places this among my favorite songs.
So, after finishing the movie, I immediately rewound the tape so that I could start memorizing it. I still know it by heart to this day.
I’m not a good singer (to be honest, I’m terrible), but if asked, I will sing “Smile,” mimicking the inflections of Veda’s mom. I can almost sound okay singing it, or so I’ve been told by my mom.
The words, as I remember them:
Smile though your heart is aching,
smile even though it’s breaking,
although a tear may be ever so near,
that’s the time, you must keep on trying.
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile,
if you just light up your face with gladness.
Hide any trace of sadness.
When there are clouds
in the sky, you’ll get by.
Smile through your fear and sorrow,
smile and maybe tomorrow,
you’ll find that life is still worthwhile,
if you just smile.”
And here’s a really sweet cover of the song I found (with what are likely the “correct” lyrics):
*If you’ve have not seenMy Girl, I urge you to go see it. Tell me what you think. If you don’t tear up even a little, even just a little extra moisture going on, I say you have no soul.