Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A look can say 1000 words

I was on the bus a few weeks ago minus my iPod. Normally being without my music would not bother me, but that day I was sitting at the back of the bus and had the misfortune to be within earshot of girl who appeared to be in her early 20's yammering incessantly on her mobile phone. I was shocked at the language coming out of this girl's mouth! She was on her mobile chatting quite loudly to whomever was on the other end of the phone. At first the conversation was banal - what did you do last night, how drunk was I at the party etc etc. After about two minutes however the conversation turned into "do you know girl X and isn't' she a (insert multiple unflattering expletives here). The absolute drivel and verbal abuse spilling out from her mouth was dumbfounding.

I looked at this woman trying to determine if the conversation she was having was simply for show - a young girl who might be needing to show off her bravado by slandering anyone of the same gender she knows and making sure everyone around her could hear what a bad-ass she was. I looked away from her and across the aisle of the bus to the fellow seated opposite me. For the next 5 minutes or so this man and I had an entire conversation about the young girl without ever saying a word.

I catch his eye and give a apprehensive smile while raising my eyebrows. He counters by giving a sideways glance towards the mobile motor-mouth and finishes his non verbal statement with a roll of his eyes. I nod my head in agreement - certain he was telling me he found this girl equally as annoying as I did. The girl lets out a flurry of f-bombs and the guy across from me widens his eyes in surprise and and gives me a perplexed look. I shake my head from side to side indicating that I too can't believe what I am being forced to hear. During my non-verbal exchange with the man across from me I was amazed at how a contraction of just a few muscles can really convey complex thoughts.

I looked around at the people seated directly beside this offensive girl and noted without surprise that the 6 people closest to her were making several faces displaying everything from disgust to annoyance to exasperation. I share a nod of my head and wry smile with 3 of them. In all of these exchanges of looks I purposely avoided making direct eye contact with the object of my offense. I was convinced that from the ease at which she chose profanity over any other descriptive words that I would be directly subjected to an onslaught of malediction; and though I do like to consider myself a bit of a wordsmith, I knew that any clever retort I had for her would just be lost in translation from my proper English to her Jersey Shore.

I'm sure it was a short time later but it seemed like an hour, the girl got off the bus. An eruption of applause breaks out from the people who were seated closest to her. No one says a word but the smiles and clapping say it all. Thank GOODNESS that girl has left and we might now find some peace in which to unwind from our busy day.

I try to be conscious of my facial expressions so as not to give away too many of my inner thoughts by having them reflected in my face. Bored in class? Try to keep a neutral face so my instructor doesn't take personal offense. Have a great poker hand? Best not to smile to give that away. Feeling amorous? A twinkle in my eye and a raise of my eyebrow and my lover responds well to my non-verbal advances.

I like to think that I'm a fairly expressive person both verbally and non-verbally. In fact, I believe that I am more prone to non-verbal communication than verbal. A picture may be worth a thousand words but one look can say it all.

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