That’s my face.


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.

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About zohrbak

Zohrbak is an old email username I had a while back...it's a made-up twist on two characters from Spaceghost. Zorak and Brak. I'm a geek. I am a married, working mother of 4 children, ages 4-15. I also have interests outside of my children, but I can never remember what they are.
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16 Responses to That’s my face.

  1. Aimee says:

    Again, ROTFLMAO.

  2. Sheri says:

    Try having bell’s palsy with said “default face”…I actually have to plan out the smiling process lol. And as your older sister, I have to warn you that in a few years your “default face” will include these little grooves on each side of your downturned, pouty lips that run down to gently cup your chin. Mine are deepening as I type this.

  3. Randi says:

    Is this why I always thought my dad was mad at me?
    Is this why my husband immediately gravitates to arguing when I say something, anything? Even if I mention sweet things like puppies, butterflies, cookies, ice cream, he’ll tell me to stop complaining or bitching….his two favorite words to describe me, I think.
    I hate “the face” as I also inherited “the face.” I’m with you…I only look happy if I’m actually laughing.
    I have to say that since your mom told me about your blog a few days ago and I sat and read every entry, I made a decision then that I would keep reading daily or at least every few days to catch up. This keeps me smiling and/or laughing and I’m learning a lot about my beautiful “beastie” cousin.

  4. Randi says:

    Oh, by the way, people are starting to talk about Botox around me weekly. I’m thinking of researching it at this point.

  5. Pat says:

    You both should be aware that there are several things to consider regarding your “default face”. First, you should know that you two are not the original pair to contend with such things.
    Just so you know, you people are at least third generation recipients of this face.
    As your mom, let me assure you that you were indeed fortunate that you were comfortable enough to attempt to have your friends over.
    My friends seldom came over to play outside, much less INTO our house when I was growing up. Remember your sweet little grandmother who loved the both of you beyond measure?
    Her default face was both beast AND cruella deville. Besides the face (yes, downturned and pouty), she CONSTANTLY moved her lips, which, in my mind meant one of two things:
    1. she was praying (undoubtedly for patience so she would not kill or at least maim one of us) or
    2. she was trying to decide what means she would use to kill or at least maim one of us.
    The grandmother you both loved with all of your hearts was probably a victim of the same situation we all found ourselves in.
    On the bright side, the pouty lips you are referring to will actually at some point GO WAY and you won’t have them to worry about anymore. You will only have to contend with the lines and sagging.
    My advice to you both is to sit down at once with your daughters and explain the genetics of all this and have them start practicing a new default face that will not scare the bejesus out of everyone they come into contact with!
    PS At least you both know that it’s just the way I look, not the way I am.
    Love ya both

  6. Coyote says:

    Love your posts! I found you via a comment on Hyperbole and a Half.

    I too have a “default face” that has an expression other than sweetness and light. I’ll be daydreaming, or just thinking about nothing, and people will ask “What’s the matter? What are you angry about?”

    Or sometimes they’ll just go “Auugh! What did I do?” as they recoil.

    It’s taken me years, but I make an almost constant effort, when around people, to deliberately make my face assume something smiley. This interferes with my daydreaming a little, and makes my face tense, but keeps people from jumping.

    Sometimes I forget to make the smiley face. Heh.

    I am glad (in a way) to know that it’s not just me.

    • zohrbak says:

      Thanks for reading…I corrected my default face in public for a long time before I even realized what I was doing. If there’s so many of us…maybe we could put our heads together and create some sort of night time face brace to correct this problem. Who’s with me??!!

  7. arien78 says:

    Hilarious once again. You comparisons are sooo funny…Cruella DeVille, Default face, the photo references, shape-shifting…super cool!!! would love to keep coming back to your blogs to read more…:)

    LLAP!!!

  8. Pingback: Smile! You’re a mom! « Zohrbak's Blog

  9. Pingback: My Mom « Zohrbak's Blog

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