She was sure I was just being polite, and reminded me about a minor comment she'd made the night before - a comment I'd thought was mildly amusing, and not offensive in the least.
Unfortunately, I guess the look on my face after she said it was something akin to: "You have offended me, and now we are mortal enemies, and if I find a knife, I will plunge it into your heart at the earliest possible opportunity."
I explained as best I could that I honestly wasn't offended - it was just my face, getting me in trouble again. My stupid freaking face.
See, I was cursed with a natural frown. (Actually my dentist calls it an Elvis pout, because my mouth actually turns down a little more in one corner than the other, so I really don't just have a natural frown, I have a natural sneer. (BONUS.))
When I'm relaxed, or when I'm listening to someone talk, or even just watching TV, my face settles into a frown. For as long as I can remember, people have been coming up to me and telling me to smile, or asking me what was wrong, or encouraging me to lighten up - even though I was just sitting there thinking about dandelion fuzz, feeling mellow and dreamy.
Unfortunately, when you go around lost in your thoughts a lot of the time, and your natural expression is a frown, it MIGHT sort of look like you are constantly glowering at people. You MIGHT start to get a rep for being a critical, negative person. EVEN IF YOU AREN'T. It doesn't matter if you are or aren't. You LOOK like you are, and therefore, you ARE.
I can be at a party, and I'll say, "This is a great party," and I'll mean it. But if I've forgotten about my stupid sneer when I say it, people think I'm being sarcastic and wenchy.
Some of you are probably thinking, "Then, um, why don't you just SMILE more, you moron?!" But I try! Whenever I think about it, I smile. But I can't go around thinking about my face all the time. Because who does that? ("Am I smiling now? Now? Now? How about now?" Then I'd be even more nuts.)
The other day after my friend called me, I went into the bathroom to see how bad it had gotten. I stood in front of the mirror, trying on facial expressions.
- I made my mellow, totally relaxed daydreaming face. I looked grim.
- I made my "that's pretty funny, not funny enough to laugh, but you know I think that's pretty hilarious anyway" face. I looked like I was smirking.
- I made my "I'm listening in a sincere way and trying to relate to what you are saying" face. I looked condescending and rude. The girls at book club must hate me, because that is my face. THAT IS MY FACE. CRAP.
When I was about twenty, I went out on the lake with a bunch of my friends. I was happy and relaxed, but not particularly talkative. (There were new cute boys on board, and I was feeling bashful.) At the end of the day, two of my friends completely exploded on me, saying I'd been negative and hostile all day. Because I'd been quiet and frowny. The fundamental unfairness of the comment still eats at me sometimes. Because I was happy that day. I was so happy to be there - almost overflowing with quietly affectionate feelings for my friends. But they thought I looked stuck-up and rude, and they sat there all day resenting me for my imaginary attitude.
A while back I heard that if you get enough Botox, it'll freeze your face into an unnatural smile. An unnatural smile! What more could I ask for? I'm saving my pennies, and I figure by late 2011, I'll be able to afford the first round of shots. In the interim, I'm thinking I'll just staple a post-it to my head, one that says, "This is my mellow face. I realize it looks like I'm sneering, but I'm really not. It's just my STUPID. FACE."
And if you run into me on the street, or at the store, or in the library? Just remember - I might LOOK angry, but I'm not, I swear. I like you. I like almost everyone. I just LOOK like I want to kill you.