I was born with a down-turned mouth and pouty baby lips. Blonde hair, blue eyes and this mouth made me adorable (as I recall). I kinda looked like this kid, whom you’ve probably never heard of.
I got this facial feature from my mother’s side of the family.
I remember once when I was little going to the grocery store with my mom, and while checking out, the cashier said, “Ma’am, is everything okay?”
My mother, if not intentionally trying to smile, looked pissed ALL THE TIME. She’s also blessed with “the one-sided eyebrow raise”, which, when used in combination with the pissy mouth, makes her very, very scary. Which is funny, because she’s not even upset in the least. This occurs when she is at her most relaxed. This is her “Default” face.
Now, throw some ACTUAL anger into the mix, and these features are amplified. Now we’re talking “Cruella Deville” face.
Keep in mind that she was capable of actually smiling, and her forehead / eyebrows could assume a normal position. She was quite pretty, when she was consciously pleased. On these occasions, she had on her “Happy” face.
This made for a very confusing and anxious child hood. Catch her sitting at the table, drinking coffee by herself in the morning, and you’d likely run into Default face. I was too young at the time to discern the difference between Default face and Cruella Deville face except for the obvious enlargement of anger, but they both scared the hell out of me.
When I was little, I constantly had friends over, and they liked hanging out at our house. My mom was fun and easy-going. But, at a moment’s notice, she could change from Happy face to Default face, and then my friends and I would get nervous about what, exactly, we had done wrong. Her silence (empty head silence) at that particular moment could only be read as sullenness, and we quickly scattered to avoid the inevitable Cruella Deville face.
I put all these nuances together in my head when I was in my late teens and twenties. I realized that there were plenty of times when I thought back on it, that I thought that my mother was being mean or resentful, when all the while she was just sitting there. Probably thinking of nothing at all.
When I hit my thirties, the Default Face gene, which had always been there, began to kick in full force. Instead of the “one-sided eyebrow raise” though, my Default Face involves a maneuver wherein my eyebrows draw together, leaving me with a residual one-inch fault line that runs vertically and slightly to the right of center of my eyebrows, which reminds me of this this guy.
Random strangers will look at me and say things like, “Smile, honey, it’s all gonna be alright!” I get really angry when people I don’t even know feel the need to make this kind of comment. Firstly, I am not upset about anything, Jackass. Secondly, YOU have NO idea if everything is gonna be alright. I could actually be upset about all kinds of things that wouldn’t be “alright.” Maybe I just lost my house in a tsunami. Maybe my dog just got run over by a street sweeper. Maybe I’m a psychopath and I’m plotting my next series of killings. You don’t even know me.
My children have started asking me at random moments, “Mom, are you mad at me?” My husband asks me things like, “Why are you making that face?” To which I can only respond, “That’s my face.” It takes an actual effort to smile now. Unless I am literally LOLing, then I am in Default face mode.
When my Default face turns into my Beast face, I call this Shape-Shifting. Because it sounds cool.
My kids haven’t learned the difference between Default face and Beast face yet. They just know that they should be cautious and always aware of their surroundings, as the beatings could commence at any moment.
I guess when I’m 85 I’ll look like a mean old lady who’s still ready to kick somebody’s ass. At least that’ll keep the crazy people in the nursing home away from me.
Love you Mom. Please don’t hit me.