This dumb look. Obviously, I’m not talking about the kid, go back a few blogs if you want to hear me rant about how worthless children are. No, I’m referring to this bizarre half, smile half stroke thing I do when walking by someone and catch their eye. It doesn’t matter where I am, who I’m with, or how well I know the person. My face INSTANTLY contorts to this as natural as it is to breath or blink. When did this start? Have I always been like this? Or is this a result of social media combined with an inability to understand how regular human interaction works?
My abhorrence of speaking to someone outside of work was my first hypothesis. I manage to fabricate a relatively decent front that I’m a normally functioning, sociable guy at work. You need to in order to have any success as an Army officer. But this drains my social battery considerably so the second I walk out of the office I turtle up faster than Peyton Manning against the pass rush. I mean, there can’t be anything on this planet worse than when a stranger strikes up a conversation. Like c’mon man it’s 5 o’clock, I just want to get to my apartment, lock the door, pour myself a drink, and listen to depressing break-up songs as I contemplate my existence. Listening to you make chiding remarks about the how the maintenance staff haven’t fixed your AC yet does nothing for either of us. Being an extrovert is for the birds.
Now don’t me wrong, you throw five or twenty drinks down my gullet and I’ll talk to everyone. I mean LITERALLY everyone. Doesn’t matter if you’re an attractive woman, dude with a cool tattoo, creepy old guy, you name it. It’s truly remarkable how much we change when the frontal cortex gets numbed by a little whiskey.
Sober me at a pool: I won’t say four words
Drunk me becomes the life of the party and my brain completely dumps out the defense mechanism that is, the neutral smile (I honestly have no idea if there’s a name for this expression but for the sake of consistency, neutral face will have to do).
Combatting the dangerous thought that my necessity to make the neutral face is somehow my doing, I landed on the theory that I’m just too busy to engage with people. That makes sense, right? Twenty-five years old, single, working a job where I sit at a desk 95% of the time, what reason is there to shoot the shit with unfamiliar people? It’s 2019 and I was raised with the phrase, “stranger danger” constantly being jammed down my throat. Go read the Wikipedia on Jeffrey Dahmer and tell me you have so much free time that you can afford to chit chat with someone who may or may not end up eating your lungs like a couple of ribeye steaks . I dare you. I know I’m way too important to end up as lunch meat in a creepy apartment.
I can’t be the only weirdo that falls victim to the neutral face but in the off chance that I am, it’s time to make a change. I pledge to go the next thirty days without terrifying would-be serial killers. Studies show it takes thirty days to break a habit. Expect a follow-up blog because Dude Cav doesn’t fail a challenge lightly.
Update: I went to the gym before posting this and did it six times. Send help