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mirror, mirror
do you know what your face is doing when you're not looking?
by roger striffler
4.27.01
humor


I've been spending a lot of time lately looking at my reflection in the mirror. And car windows, glass store fronts, elevator doors, and puddles of water. OK, maybe not a lot of time, but probably too much time, and definitely more than I used to.

It's not that I've become vain, or developed some kind of raccoon-like fascination with shiny things. I'm not obsessed with my body (though I wish someone were) and I'm not making sure my remaining hair is in place, just so.

I'm trying to catch a glimpse of my face to see the expression on it. It's a little experiment I'm doing, and I'll be honest with you, it's really not working for me.

First of all, there are the coffee stains. And soda stains. And lipstick stains. On me.
You see, when you walk full-tilt into someone while you're looking in the opposite direction, you just don't know what a person is going to be carrying. Frankly, you might be surprised. (You might also be surprised at how friendly and accommodating people can be to some idiot who just walked headlong right into them without even looking. I was.)

Then there's the spooky feeling that someone's watching me. Strangely, it doesn't make it any better knowing that it's just me watching me.

What's worse is the few, fleeting moments when I actually do catch my my face staring back at me, only to realize that my expression is one of inquisitive wonder - almost as if I were asking "What does my reflection look like??" Hmmm...probably should have seen that one coming.

I feel that dull ache of failure and burning frustration that I think scientists might feel when their experiments just aren't going as well as they'd hoped. Like a big mystery you just can't seem to unravel, but you know that you're close; So...close...

Now, you're probably wondering, "Why is this freak doing this?". That's a fair enough question, so I'll tell you.

Lately I've been noticing the expressions on other people's faces. In the grocery store, the mall, around the office, everywhere I go. And the thing is, a lot of people look, well, scared.

While waiting in line at Chick-fil-A the other day, I saw a woman who looked absolutely terrified that they weren't going to ask for her order. When her turn at the counter came, she quickly announced her chosen items, then carried the tray away looking distraught, as if a crisis had been narrowly averted, and if perhaps it remained to be seen whether the order was correct after all.

In the grocery store, an elderly gentleman looked upset and confused as he ran his eyes along the row of neatly stacked cans of soup on the shelf. He seemed almost afraid to touch them, and his discomfort caused me to stop and ask, "Can I help you?"

"Thanks," he replied, "just deciding between beef and vegetable."

OK, so maybe the decision between beef and vegetable is not one you should make lightly, but from the look on his face, it looked more like he was deciding between a new Ferrari and world peace.

And so it goes. All around me, in ordinary situations, I'm running into people (sometimes literally) whose outward appearance is one of fear or trepidation, as if merely being alive is a frightening thing; as if the world itself were such a large and overwhelming thing that they just can't get comfortable.

Now I wasn't exactly born with the adventurous spirit of Indiana Jones, but I'm pretty fond of this life and, all told, I feel pretty comfortable in it. (OK, I may even have been called a Pollyanna before, but what's so wrong with being happy???)

The thing is, as basically happy as I am, I began to wonder...does it show? Can people tell that I'm happy? Maybe I'm walking around looking nervous, or scared, or worse yet, angry!

And so my little experiment was born. It seemed a simple enough thing at first, but as I said, it's really not working out. I'm getting bruises, my dry cleaning bill is going through the roof, and people in our shiny glass office building are starting to avoid me.

So maybe it's time to quit. Put an end to this before I end up with this silly quizzical look glued to my face. Do me a favor though - if we happen to pass on the street, tap me on the shoulder and let me know what my face is up to.


ABOUT ROGER STRIFFLER

See that job title? Check it out: "Spy". How cool is that? I know, you're probably wondering what it means to be a spy for an international organization like Intrepid Media, huh? Well I'd love to tell you, but I can't. It's all part of the spy game, baby.

more about roger striffler

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COMMENTS

james pearce
4.27.01 @ 11:31a

I can only rate this type of writing as top-notch. The only recommendation I would make is not to the author, but to the site. A LITTLE LARGER TYPE WOULD HELP. Not everyone is young, or 20/20 without glasses. ~James D. Pearce

adam kraemer
4.27.01 @ 2:51p

You know it's possible to adjust the size of the text on your browser, right?

wendy scroggins
4.28.01 @ 1:00p

OK, so I see his face nearly every day of the week and I feel obligated to answer. I've seen him looking at his monitor, listening intently to a conference call or one of us in the office babbling endlessly about the latest "crisis" we're facing, and once in a great while I've caught him gazing fondly at the great outdoors that surrounds our office building. Roger, you never look scared. That is the one expression I haven't seen flash across your face. So stop bumping into people, hold your head up and let people see the usual expression on your face.. the one that we all look forward to.. the smile with the tiny wrinkles around your eyes and the semi-mischievous grin. Of course, that's just my observation. :)





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