Sunday, July 17, 2011

when faces talk

When it comes to cleaning it's always been this way for me - I don't need to clean so much as I need a reason to clean. This weekend I had my reason. My sister and two little nieces are flying down from the north country.

While I was cleaning and vacuming the car (twice a year affair, if that) I found myself smiling despite the one hundred degree temperature and the sweat dripping down my nose. I was thinking about how my sis and I get to laughing hysterically during our visits, mostly because she makes the most ridiculous faces.

Some people call it mugging.

Mugging seems to be a family tradition. My mother always made crazy faces, usually conveying surprise or mocking disapproval. Then there's my sister who routinely puts on clown faces. And now my daughter. When she was a toddler, my husband's sister remarked how animated she was. I didn't understand what she meant. She said my daughter was a lot like me and my sister in that way, that we were so expressive. Huh? I still didn't get it. What was so different about us? I was intrigued.

Many years later I do get it. I've been paying attention. Whereas I used to think everybody made faces when they talked, I've come to see that people's expressiveness ranges from rarely using gestures to regularly making faces to tell a story or emphasize a point or punctuate a joke.

My husband, Sam, and his sister are quick witted and funny but hardly ever make faces in the middle of their story. Maybe never because I can't think of an example where they did.

Some of my friends are dry witted and completely deadpan to the point of almost missing the joke. I like both kinds of humor but think I'm partial to the making faces thing.

Like for instance, my favorite comedians have a thing about mugging:

Martin Short

Kristin Wiig

Andy Samberg

I've also come to realize how much I make faces when I talk. Sometimes I'm overly aware of it. It's like looking out from my own face, noticing my expressions from behind my face and seeing their effect on people. And I wonder if I look ridiculous. If they wonder why the heck I find the need to make so many faces, why can't I simply tell a story without the goofy mannerisms.

What about you? Are you one of the expressives or one of the deadpans?


Mrs. G. said...

I'm expressive, facially and vocally and physically--I talk with my hands a lot.

A Daft Scots Lass said...

That is just so me!

Mary said...

Hmm - is there a middle ground.

I think I am deadpan but I have friends who are so expressive and tell the best stories with their faces and their words.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I'm a fellow mugger--and I know I look silly. But that's how we're wired, right?

smalltownmom said...

My aunts used to tell me not to make faces or my face would freeze that way. So I guess I used to make faces a lot...not sure if I still do or if they scared it out of me!

Jenn @ Youknow...that Blog? said...

I admit it. I'm a mugger. I get it from my father - we're very very expressive. Arms waving, face gymnastics, the whole bit.

I also have a broken blog :( Hopefully will be fixed soon.

Susan said...

I, too, am an animated talker. I was telling some people about an evaluation of my daughter's opportunities in theater where they said she was more suited to TV because of how animated she was - I said "Where did they get that?" and everyone laughed and pointed at me.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Definitely expressive.

Aunt Snow said...

what joyous, animated faces!!! Hooray!!

Angeliki said...

I have a temporary smile on my face that doesn't seem to change under any circumstances. Apart from that no other real expression. I guess I am a deadpan.

Red Shoes said...

I SO love it when people talk with their faces... I think that's when you really see who they are!!!


Schadenfreude Warehouse said...

I think I'm more deadpan. I talk with my hands a lot and my voice has a wide range of inflection, but I let my hyperbolic words paint the picture for my listener.

Diney said...

Definitely expressive - usually I pull a stupid face when having a photo taken. My kids will never know their Ma used to be quite a cutie when younger as I always look barmy! I get quite excitable when talking and my voice goes higher and higher.... I would avoid me actually!