Unfortunately, I wear my emotions on my face 24/7.
There’s just no bluff in me.
In her novel Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert described it perfectly: My face is a transmitter of my every thought. As David once put it, “You have the opposite of poker face. You have, like … miniature golf face.”
All my life, I could never get away with lying. I just don’t have the ability to look someone in the eye and tell less than the truth without a grimace or a grin giving me away. Some would describe me as mercilessly blunt with my opinions. In response, I say, don’t ask if you don’t really want to know what I think about something. But even if you don’t ask, you’ll most likely see my opinion written all over my face. I just can’t hide it.
When I was younger and mostly surrounded by other Southerners who were raised with tact and manners, I was always being asked what I was grinning about. I grin when I am happy, when I am amused, when I am having an evil thought, and when I know something that you don’t. I’ve been told that my grin lit up our wedding when I married my high school sweetheart. That is pretty funny because, to me, Darryl looked like a deer caught in the headlights throughout the ceremony.
When I am down, I have a really hard time putting a fake smile on for the public. Friends, family, and clients of our business will immediately ask me “What’s wrong?” as soon as they see me. I’ve become adept at turning the conversation back to the person who asked when I just don’t want to discuss my problems with them. I’ve often wished I could pull off a fake smile or cheerfulness that I just don’t feel at the moment.
My expressive face apparently also gives me away instantly when I am annoyed, which seems to be more and more lately as our area is inundated with rude, thoughtless, transplants who don’t understand the rules of living in the South. A good example happened a month or so ago, back when Walmart was pretending to try to prevent their customers from contracting Coronavirus with arrows on the floor meant to direct traffic. I was moving through the store, minding my own business, mask on, following the arrows, when a woman barreled around the end of an aisle like she was on her way to put out a fire, coming the wrong way, also on the wrong (left) side of the aisle, and nearly ran me down. I did not say a word. I stopped in my tracks and looked at her, expecting an, “Oh, I’m so sorry I almost ran you over!” or, at the very least, an “Excuse me.” Instead, she huffed, then spat out in a definite Yankee accent, “Well, you don’t have to give me such a hateful look!” Then she jerked her buggy around mine and kept right on going. The comment was amusing to me since all she could see of my face were my eyes. Everything else was hidden behind the brightly colored, cheerful mask I wore. Her comment caught me totally off guard and she was gone so fast I didn’t even have time to say, “Bless your heart.” She wouldn’t have understood the true meaning of those words, anyway, since she was obviously from north of the Mason/Dixon Line.
My affliction also makes it hard for me to be in the company of fools. Listening to some of the hooey I’ve heard over the past several months I shudder to think what my face looked like. For instance, if you tell me, seriously, that you think the world is flat, my face is going to say “Have you lost your mind? What keeps the ocean from running right off of the edges, you moron?” or “What kind of drugs are you on and can I get some of those, please?” I might not say it out loud, but my grin or my raised eyebrows are going to shout “Bullshit!” (Everyone knows if the world was flat cats would have pushed everything off of it by now.)
I don’t know if my expressive face is a blessing or a curse. I think it works for me when some people see my don’t eff with me right now face or my come on in, I’m so happy to see a customer face at our business. I love it when someone recognizes my grin when I am having an amusing or evil thought and they are someone I can share it with. My expressive face works against me in situations where I am trying to conceal my impatience with anyone who is wasting my time or blocking my path. My countenance shouts “I am in a hurry and you are slowing me down!” sometimes before I can politely say “I’m not interested.” or “Excuse me.”
I can’t play Poker or Two Truths and a Lie to save my life, but apparently my super power is that I can tell you how I feel and what I am thinking with one look, which is a plus for someone who is a person of few words and lots of opinions.