Sorry About My Face

Dear friends, family, neighbors, innocent bystanders trying to walk their dogs, drivers waiting at red lights as I cross the street, guy standing on the corner smoking a blunt in broad daylight (you’re awesome) and the general public at large:

I’d just like to take a moment to apologize for my face.

Your encouraging words (“Can I get a smile?”) and concern (“Cheer up! It’ll be okay!”) have not fallen on deaf ears. You saw the malaise posted up on my grill and you reacted the way any Good Samaritan would and for that, I’d like to thank you.

Friend asking me if I’m okay while I’m trying to watch television, I appreciate you. You (mis-)read my nonverbal cues and attempted to comfort me (while I was hypnotized by the haunting narration of Michael C. Hall). Your caring nature humbles me.

Pack of guys standing on the corner who asked me for a smile earlier today – of course you can have a smile. Here you go. Unlike cigarettes, spare change, and MetroCard swipes, smiles are free. Take one. Take ten!

Older gentleman who told me I’m too pretty to be sad, thanks for the kind words. You remind me of my grandpa. While I’m almost certain outward appearance ≠ happiness, I appreciate the sentiment.

Which brings me to my apology: I’m sorry for deceiving you. Your compassion is wasted on me. I really am fine. I have no idea why my default face is that of 1904 Virginia Woolf. When I’m not actively engaged in conversation, I just let my face sort of… droop and do its own thing. Apparently that gives you all the impression that I’m ten seconds away from flinging myself into oncoming traffic. Most of the time, I’m not.

I have no idea what I look like when I’m in the zone, but I’m guessing it’s peaked. Jaundice. Sad sackian. Usually, I’m just thinking things like “’Back II Life’ is such a good song, I like the acapella version but also the studio version, I wonder which one I like more, it’s impossible to choose,” or “Should I go to the bank while I’m over here?” or sometimes I’m actually thinking about nothing, or I’m thinking about black or my breathing or negative space. Sometimes I just stare in one spot until my vision clouds over and I can’t discern shapes or directions or people, until everything looks like Landscape at Collioure. Sometimes I’ll look down, too, because I’ve found money that way before.

On occasion, I’ve been known to smile without anyone imploring that I do so. I’ll think of something I read that made me laugh or about something I found endearing and I’ll smile. Do people walk around smiling the entire time? What the hell kind of internal speech is going on there?

Knock Knock/ Who’s there?/ LOL, just me! Your inner monologue! Were you expecting someone else?/ Hehe, no… I guess not!/ LOL

Of course, I’d rather not appear to be filming a Paxil commercial every time I take a walk, so I’ll work on the default face best I can. Right after I master proper posture and making my bed. So… never.

See you all later, if I can muster up the gumption to face another 24 hours of the bleak monotony that is my life (JK!)

Steph TC mark

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  • Joeparreno

    Ugh. I don’t think you should be apologizing to anyone. I do the same but feel pressured to smile at a stranger because that is what “normal” people do. I prefer to avoid eye contact and keep moving.

  • Anonymous

    +1 for having a grill.

  • Anonymous

    +1 for having a grill.

  • http://www.twitter.com/kkasie19 kasie

    YOU GET ME.  -___-

  • http://www.twitter.com/kkasie19 kasie

    YOU GET ME.  -___-

  • http://twitter.com/morganizing Morgan Kelley

    I feel that. Also, my eye twitches sometimes so then I look sad AND crazy. Kudos to me.

  • Mimrimk

    I suffer the same plight.

  • Anonymous

    my uncle has spent the past 20 or so years greeting me with this same sentence, “have you remembered to take your happy pills today?” just because of my default ‘miserable’ face. 

  • http://twitter.com/emilybelden emily belden

    I have no idea why my default face is that of 1904 Virginia Woolf. -> genius

  • http://michaelynch.com Michael Lynch

    I definitely understand this. Good observation. Oh, and the inner monologue was funny.

  • Ali

    I get this all the time too! I can’t help that my natural expression is a frown when in fact I’m just feeling neutral. 

  • Ali

    I get this all the time too! I can’t help that my natural expression is a frown when in fact I’m just feeling neutral. 

  • Ali

    I get this all the time too! I can’t help that my natural expression is a frown when in fact I’m just feeling neutral. 

  • lia marie

     i have no idea how to formulate a senseful and witty response to this so please have this random and useless comment: i really liked your text. xxxxx

  • http://twitter.com/iamkitui Liz | M.

    Hey, quick q. Are you me? Because this entire article is me. Since grade school. Though it seems that the older I get, the more “you look upset/angry” has shifted to “you look sooo tired.”

    Either way sorry for my chronic bitchface, world!

  • Idolovegriaffes

    I legitimately do the exact same thing. Its like girls who have a permanent bitch face only we just come off as sad for some reason

  • http://twitter.com/bethanie_m Bethanie Marshall

    Wow, thank you for posting this. I feel justified in my non-smiling ways now. I also have the perma-frown going on, by no intention of mine. And then explaining to people, “it’s just the way my face looks” always goes over well. Or even better, since I work in a store, and am expected to smile and greet every passing customer, is when I’m in my usual zone of making “sad” faces while thinking about what I want for lunch, I forget that I’m not at work and start smiling and greeting every person I walk by. Which is way more creepy and gets stranger looks than :/ I’ll stick to :/ rather than =D 

  • http://twitter.com/bethanie_m Bethanie Marshall

    Wow, thank you for posting this. I feel justified in my non-smiling ways now. I also have the perma-frown going on, by no intention of mine. And then explaining to people, “it’s just the way my face looks” always goes over well. Or even better, since I work in a store, and am expected to smile and greet every passing customer, is when I’m in my usual zone of making “sad” faces while thinking about what I want for lunch, I forget that I’m not at work and start smiling and greeting every person I walk by. Which is way more creepy and gets stranger looks than :/ I’ll stick to :/ rather than =D 

  • http://twitter.com/bethanie_m Bethanie Marshall

    Wow, thank you for posting this. I feel justified in my non-smiling ways now. I also have the perma-frown going on, by no intention of mine. And then explaining to people, “it’s just the way my face looks” always goes over well. Or even better, since I work in a store, and am expected to smile and greet every passing customer, is when I’m in my usual zone of making “sad” faces while thinking about what I want for lunch, I forget that I’m not at work and start smiling and greeting every person I walk by. Which is way more creepy and gets stranger looks than :/ I’ll stick to :/ rather than =D 

  • http://twitter.com/bethanie_m Bethanie Marshall

    Wow, thank you for posting this. I feel justified in my non-smiling ways now. I also have the perma-frown going on, by no intention of mine. And then explaining to people, “it’s just the way my face looks” always goes over well. Or even better, since I work in a store, and am expected to smile and greet every passing customer, is when I’m in my usual zone of making “sad” faces while thinking about what I want for lunch, I forget that I’m not at work and start smiling and greeting every person I walk by. Which is way more creepy and gets stranger looks than :/ I’ll stick to :/ rather than =D 

  • http://twitter.com/bethanie_m Bethanie Marshall

    Wow, thank you for posting this. I feel justified in my non-smiling ways now. I also have the perma-frown going on, by no intention of mine. And then explaining to people, “it’s just the way my face looks” always goes over well. Or even better, since I work in a store, and am expected to smile and greet every passing customer, is when I’m in my usual zone of making “sad” faces while thinking about what I want for lunch, I forget that I’m not at work and start smiling and greeting every person I walk by. Which is way more creepy and gets stranger looks than :/ I’ll stick to :/ rather than =D 

  • Sophia

    People just look so much more pleasant when they make the tiniest effort to make the corners of the mouth concave up instead of concave down. The physical act of smiling, even a little, also releases endorphins which actually you happier. I like being surrounded by pleasant people, so I tell people to smile, and I tell them often.

  • Sophia

    People just look so much more pleasant when they make the tiniest effort to make the corners of the mouth concave up instead of concave down. The physical act of smiling, even a little, also releases endorphins which actually you happier. I like being surrounded by pleasant people, so I tell people to smile, and I tell them often.

  • Sophia

    People just look so much more pleasant when they make the tiniest effort to make the corners of the mouth concave up instead of concave down. The physical act of smiling, even a little, also releases endorphins which actually you happier. I like being surrounded by pleasant people, so I tell people to smile, and I tell them often.

  • Sophia

    People just look so much more pleasant when they make the tiniest effort to make the corners of the mouth concave up instead of concave down. The physical act of smiling, even a little, also releases endorphins which actually you happier. I like being surrounded by pleasant people, so I tell people to smile, and I tell them often.

    • spinflux

      Ugh. I am fine with those who want to be surrounded by pleasant people, but really. People’s faces aren’t your entertainment system. 

      • Sophia

        But it sure would be a happier world all around if everyone would just smile. No need to be so curt; I just like the idea of more smiles and more happy people.

      • Nick

        And what if I don’t feel like smiling? I don’t owe you a smile. Sorry if my facial expression made you a modicum less happy. Oh wait, no I’m not.

      • Sophia

        I never said anything about owing me anything. I just think it would be nice if everyone did. It costs nothing and brings happiness to others. It’s like giving blood, or hugs. Just something nice to do to make the world a little bit brighter.

      • Lsr

        Smiling is tiring, i like to stay relaxed. I’m plenty happy though, but with your comments you seem to imply that you want more “happy people”, we ARE happy people- some just relax their face more than others because sometimes smiling all the time isn’t the most important thing in the world?

      • Tinyidiot

        What makes the world a little bit brighter is fewer people telling other people what to do.

      • juju

        “I never said anything about owing me anything.”

        Actually, you kind of implied it. You say yourself you go around telling people to smile all the time. Has it never occured to you that you might be annoying people?

      • Anonymous

        She doesn’t even go here!

      • Sophia

        Also, why are all of you commenters so unnecessarily angry/defensive? Maybe your lack of smile really does have something to do with your demeanor.

      • spinflux

        Indeed. If only I had taken the advice to smile-on-command. :) Maybe then my demeanor wouldn’t resemble the Bubonic plague

      • spinflux

        I’m kidding. :) It’s not being defensive to say that you aren’t entitled to a world of smiling people, and it isn’t other people’s job to facilitate that world for you. I’ve had total strangers tell to “smile” right after I’ve heard devastating news, or if I am just walking deep in thought about something that doesn’t make me want to dance around a maypole. Also the variations of the above user’s comment– “You’re too pretty to be sad.” For one thing, nobody is too pretty to be sad. For another thing, people’s opinion of my face is none of my business.

        I have nothing to defend. Just saying, let people’s faces be. If someone want to see a smile, they can stand in front of the mirror and grin like the Cheshire cat all day long. Constantly being told by friends or strangers to “smile” irks me. Earn them, don’t order them. 

      • Nick

        And what if I don’t feel like smiling? I don’t owe you a smile. Sorry if my facial expression made you a modicum less happy. Oh wait, no I’m not.

      • Nick

        And what if I don’t feel like smiling? I don’t owe you a smile. Sorry if my facial expression made you a modicum less happy. Oh wait, no I’m not.

      • Guest

        well they kind of are…we’re extremely social animals, and we take an incredible amount of cues (conscious and sub) from people around us about how to act, think, and form emotions.  People generally don’t walk into a room full of visibly sad people and feel happy as a result.  If you’re around outwardly happy people, you’re going to feel happier yourself.  So by ignoring the fact that people’s faces actually are a pretty good ‘entertainment system,’ you’re doing a big disservice to everyone who sees you every day, even for a second.  You’re also doing a big disservice to yourself, as pointed out by Sophia.  So cheer up, you’re too pretty to be sad ;)

      • juju

        ” So cheer up, you’re too pretty to be sad.”

        I take it you’re male? Cut out that attitude. It’s sexist and patronizing.

        I agree with spinflux. It’s fine to want to be with pleasant people – something I prefer as well – but actually *telling* people to wear a particular expression on their face is out of line.

    • juju

      “I like being surrounded by pleasant people, so I tell people to smile, and I tell them often.”

      Who do you do this to? Not random strangers, I hope. You don’t know what’s going on in the life of a complete stranger. You’re really underestimating how awful you’re going to make them feel if there’s something going on  in their life where they CAN’T smile. You’re really insensitive.

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