Sometimes the smile doesn’t come out like a smile

I always joke with the checkers at the grocery store, and this younger guy who’s usually checking was standing behind me helping another checker. I hear this voice say, “How do you manage to stay so young looking with all that grey hair, that salt and pepper thing?”

I didn’t realize it, but I must have screwed my face into some horrifying Clint Eastwood “Do you feel lucky” grimace because when I finished slowly turning around to smile my acknowledgement of his joke, he, the checker, and the 2 customers in the line all looked suddenly shocked or something and they literally leaned back as though they were being blasted with heat.

Kind of awkward, especially since I actually like everyone there and don’t mind joking even at my own expense, so I forced a bigger smile and said, “Uh, clean living?”