Let’s begin with an unhappy admission: I am not a pretty man.
There was a sort of lean, athletic okayness when I was young and had hair, I guess. I had pretty girlfriends, and they certainly couldn’t have been hanging around for my car (1967 Dodge Non-Chickmagnet GT), money (none), prospects (none), personality (“intense” was the euphemism, as I recall), and I forgot where I was going with this.
But as I’ve aged … Unhappy admission #2: I have what the kids call “resting bitch face.” Per Wikipedia, RBF:
…is a facial expression that unintentionally appears like a person is angry, annoyed, irritated, or contemptuous, particularly when the individual is relaxed, resting, or not expressing any particular emotion. The concept has been studied by psychologists and may have psychological implications related to facial biases, gender stereotypes, human judgement and decision-making. The concept has also been studied by scientists with information technology.[clarification needed] Using a type of facial recognition system, they found that the phenomenon is real and the condition is as common in males as in females, despite the gendered word bitch that is used to name the concept.
Looking back, there were early signs (despite the hair and lean athletical thing).
Flash back to 1984. I’m bartending (Darryl’s 1913, Northpoint Blvd. in Winston-Salem). It’s earlyish in my shift when my buddy and fraternity brother Jim, who’s a waiter, picks up an order at the bar and asks “why are you being so pissy?”
“Everybody is talking about what an asshole you’re being.”
I had no idea what he was talking about. I had just come in and started working like I did every other shift. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t sad. Not a cross word to anyone. I was just … neutral. And yet, my foul mood was the talk of the wait staff.
I can’t say how many times since I’ve had people ask what was wrong with me when nothing was wrong with me. Let’s go with “many.”
Fast-forward to last week. I’ve started a new job, and I am being pulled into the usual number of Zoom meetings. Obviously, the new guy wants to make a good impression, right? So, I was paying attention to the speaker and looking at the document being shared on screen, and then I happened to notice myself in the audience window to the side.
Great googley moogley.
Seriously – just being me, neutral, approachable, engaging, etc. Nobody said anything. Maybe they have low expectations. Maybe they were afraid. Regardless, I can’t go around looking like the old drunk sucking a PBR and shaking a rake at the neighborhood kids, no matter how cool and non-judgy the culture is.
So for the first time in my life I’m making an effort. This was taken on my last call.
I know, my pretty days are behind me. But if nobody calls the police we’ll call it a win.