I don’t know if it’s my face, but I spend my life fielding strange looks from people. With the creeping ubiquity of digital and text-based communication, it’s one of the last redoubts of true face-to-face interpersonal communication.
Here’s a fun selection of some of the most fascinating expressions people’s faces are capable of.
Is that the best you can look? I get this a lot. Usually because I’ve forgotten the primary law of hipster dressing: if you’re gonna wear one stylishly distressed old-looking garment, make the other ones new. When you arrive at a boardroom meeting in torn jeans, vintage, holey T-shirt and Nineties sneakers, you always get mistaken for one of the painters. After giving me this up-and-down look of shocked disappointment, the person usually seats me next to her on the corner, so she can kind of conceal me from the CEO.
I know. This guy’s a total cock. This is delivered between men, with a smirk and a deadpan wink when the cock in question is not looking. Traditionally while he’s spouting so much crap your ears have popped. “So I said to Tokyo, I can bring Branson to the table if you follow my advice…”
Okay. We stuffed up Ja, this is a sheepish one. Raised eyebrows, shrug of the shoulders, philosophical wince… You give someone this look when you’ve mixed up the pecan pie and the chocolate mousse, and the lady with the nut allergy is wheezing like a dying hadeda with golf balls for eyes. Then you comp the whole bill and hand in your notice.
I have a facial tic. But let’s pretend I don’t. I’m just going to look you straight in the eye and state my business and we’re going to carry on a normal conversation as if I’m not winking at you and rubbing my chin on my shoulder every 20 seconds.
Did I just catch you looking at me? Yes you did. But I’m not sure if you were looking at me first, so I’ll quickly look away and scrutinise this pack of Skittles here. But I’ll check your bum out as soon as you go back to browsing those biscuits.
I managed to make my mouth smile, but my eyes just aren’t into it. This is often delivered by a PR person at a launch for the poor man’s GPS brand. Usually flashed at journalists lurking to check if there’ll be a open bar after the speeches. Also popular with aunties who despise each other at weddings.
I live in Noddyland and am surrounded by idiots This is the wide-eyed, exasperated one you give yourself, in the mirror, while raising your hands to the sky, on the phone to a call-centre person unable to understand your request, but still condescending about it. “I tell you what I can do for you. I can put you through to our claims department”. That’s who put me through to you, you pillock!
I will pomp you to within an inch of your life With lowered eyelids, pouted lips and flared nostrils, this is a favourite of divorced women at nightclubs after six vodkas on a big night out with friends. Guys, don’t take it as too much of a compliment, she’s probably looking at the potplant behind you.
I see myself as Brad Pitt in Troy, a hero leading his people to victory This one features a firm jaw and an all-conquering, liberator’s gaze into the middle distance. Often worn by young poets at open-mic night. Shortly before they deliver six lines that rhyme Nation with Sufferation, then forget the seventh and go sulk.
Oh no! My phone died! This is a look of utter despair. Frown, panicked eyes darting around the room, desperate thumbing of the handset… The most forlorn expression, like a lightie who’s dropped a soft-serve on his foot. Sometimes there’s even minute of resolve “For now I must live in the real world. That’s fine. I can manage.” Two minutes later the true horror sets in, and they head off to find a charger.