Yes, I’ve made up another word: seriosity.
Years ago, Charlie, my writing partner, gave me permission to make up words. So I take such literary liberties frequently.
I’ve often been told I have a serious look — a look sometimes misinterpreted as being mad or angry or disturbed about something.
Actually, I don’t generally think about the expression on my face. My face is just what it is. I don’t know how to put on a different expression just to make others feel more comfortable.
“The Look” as my friends and family call it, has been with me for years. It started when I was a young teacher, barely older than my students. “The Look” became a way of asserting my authority in a classroom of hormonal high schools students. That’s the best explanation I have.
However, my children have the same look. They can use their most serious look to tell a totally believable falsehood — and no one is the wiser. It’s a great trait for playing practical jokes.
With straight-faced demeanor my son recently told his wife, “We have to talk.” Dreaded words from any spouse. Her mind immediately reviewed recent events and prepared for a difficult, even painful, discussion.
He continued. “I haven’t been able to get the buffalo wings mac and cheese at The Cheezy Mac off my mind. Can we go there for dinner?”
A nano-second later they shared a good laugh.
Years ago I was being interviewed to become an executive dining room manager. I hadn’t been on an interview in years so this was a huge deal for me. After I met the long-time kitchen staff, Ray, the chef, said to Margaret, the salad maker, “Gol, Margaret, that’s the meanest looking woman I’ve ever met!”
I was hired and Ray and Margaret and I worked well together. But every once in a while, Ray would say, “Jean, you’ve got that look again.” And I would know I was looking very serious — because I was thinking about things.
At his retirement Ray told the story of our first meeting. “I went and checked on my retirement that day. I knew I couldn’t work for her. But we’ve been just fine, just fine.”
Sometimes when I meet someone for the first time, I say, “Don’t worry I’m not as mean as I look.” I want to put them at ease because I’ve heard too many tales of how people interpret my look.
My daughter, a college professor, has the same look, and can often use it to her advantage when working with her students.
Then were was the time my daughter-in-law and I were at the Flying Biscuit Cafe in Atlanta. It was mid-afternoon, we weren’t hungry, but we wanted to check out this unique restaurant. In the middle of a conversation the manager told me I needed to lighten up, to be happier. Without a moment’s hesitation, my daughter-in-law said, “That is her happy face!” I’m not sure what it means when a relative has to explain me to total strangers, but this has become an oft-told story.
My kids and I are introverts, ponderers, and aren’t known for our emoting. We feel and experience things deeply, but our emotions are not often visible to others.
We have a condition known as “genetic seriosity.” It’s not fatal or even life-threatening, though it’s often misunderstood.
We haven’t sought a cure. We’re content the way we are.
Until next Tuesday . . .