I used to think of the happy Wal-Mart logo when I heard that word, but my innocence has been stripped.
When we first arrived here in Port Elizabeth we were told by South African girls that we had to try smiley, a delicious cookie, which we all agreed to do whole-heartedly. Then, while touring the townships with Ubuntu Education Fund, one of our sponsors, we saw our first smiley. It is not a delicious cookie. It's roasted sheep head, eyeballs and all. It's called smiley because when you kill a sheep supposedly the tongue flops out and the sheep smiles at you. Ewww.
We sat down on a wood block and watched a large woman unwrap a smoking newspaper sitting on a fire. Molly and I prepared ourselves to deliver on our promise. Out came smiley. She threw it on a dirty plate and laughed with all the spectators as Molly and I cut off pieces of the cheek while holding the jaw with the teeth intact. We popped the cheek into our mouths as our teammates made faces waiting for our reaction.
"Tastes like ribs."
Other teammates tentatively reached for the knife to try some and were pleasantly surprised. Molly and I, still curious, kept going and moved on to the tongue.
"It's more rubbery, but tastes good."
Again, our teammates followed us and found that the tongue was the best part. Alice, our photographer "triple dog dared" anyone to try the eyeball for five dollars.
Molly and I watched Banks Gwaxula, the cofounder of Ubuntu, pull the eye out of the socket and split it apart. I hesitated, then plunged the slimy light blob in my mouth.
By now completely caught up in our boldness, Molly and I ate the ear. I couldn't help but make a little face. Our little crowd chuckled as we left the stand and walked out into the rest of the market.
I have serious bragging rights for the rest of my life. I ate Smiley.
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