I am part of an exclusive little group - the Extremely Expressive People.
EEPs, if you will.
We EEPs are often proud of our facial readability. Our faces perform intricate maneuvers which leave little doubt as to what we are really, truly feeling.
The cashier can tell we’re frustrated with how long we had to wait in line by the wrinkle between our eyebrows.
When we are happy, our smiles are so infectious, other people laugh along with us without really knowing why.
Our significant others rarely have to ask if we’re mad, since our pursed lips and narrowed eyes provide an unspoken answer.
Being an EEP can be a nuisance, such as in a business meetings, when any true EEP has to struggle against expression if the boss offers up a suggestion we feel is (as Tob puts it) hogwash.
Other times, it allows us to express what we feel without having to spell everything out.
This brings us to the Not Extremely Expressive People, NEEPs.
NEEPs drive EEPs crazy.
Just tell us what you’re feeling already!
NEEPs are often stone faced, carrying the same expression whether delirious with joy, bloated with boredom, or having their spleens removed with a shrimp fork.
My mother is most definitely a NEEP.
Growing up, I inundated Mom with questions like, “Mommy, why are you so sad?”
She’d look at me in surprise (I think). “Mommy’s not sad.”
“Then why are you frowning?”
“Mommy’s not frowning.”
“Smile, Mommy, smile!”
“Sweetheart, I’m fine. I’m happy!” She’d assure me before turning back to her sewing with the contagious joy of a person headed to the guillotine.
I used to think Mom was the exception to the rule.
At least until I ventured out into the business world, where I found people desired NEEP poker faces as a way to get ahead. In business, it’s considered poor form to be able to read someone’s true motives simply by their face.
And, of course, I married a NEEP.
My husband can experience a full range of emotions without exercising a single facial muscle.
And it really drives me nuts.
Because, you see, we EEPs MUST know how you are feeling RIGHT NOW. And if we can’t, we are forced to take extreme measures.
Every slight movement takes on exaggerated significance to us.
This often happens to me when we are driving somewhere.
As we head down the road, my husband will bite his lip, and I’ll think, “Oh, he’s worrying again. Hmm…maybe about money?”
Then, he’ll rub his bald head, and I’ll think, “Does he know I spent $30 at the movie last night? Is it upsetting him?”
If he merges into another lane, I’ll be sure he’s furious with me.
I’ll begin to get defensive. How dare he get mad about my $30 movie purchase, when I know he spent more than that on his last hunting excursion!
I’ll narrow my eyes and give him the ol’ stink eye. Just who does he think he is, anyway? I work, too, Buster.
I’ll look over at him, chewing his gum slowly, and start to heat up. Just how much did that GUM cost, huh, Bud? What kind of point is he trying make?
By now, my face is screwed up into a complex knot of anger.
Then, he speaks. “You want to grab some lunch, babe?”
And I explode.
“Oh what are you trying to do?! Send us to the poorhouse? Sheesh, it was just ONE movie and some popcorn. Get over it already!”
“What?” His voice sounds confused but that face has yet to twitch.
“Yeah, yeah, you just GO AHEAD and GET lunch, fella.”
I let out my final puff of exasperated air and lean back in my seat.
“Sounds good.” My better half swings into Panera with a deadly calm. Or nonchalance. I can’t really tell.
Curse you, NEEPs!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, for the sake of us EEPs, could you NEEPs out there give us just the tiniest hint of a clue as to how you’re feeling?
It’s really just takes a little muscle contraction to help us feel like we can read you. To us, it’ll be just as plain as the nose on your face.
Well, if your nose is scrunched up, that is.