“You should get that tattooed on your forehead,” my BFF said.
What she was suggesting I get inked on my person was “Fuck. Off.” since, by her estimation, I was saying that a lot.
Some 15 years later, I still remember the particular morning I was telling her about when she made that offhand comment. It had been an incredibly hot and sunny summer morning in Boston, just before 10. I was walking to work and was suffering from what a friend called Infantile Head*. I’d run out of cigarettes during the night, so I stopped by the convenience store that was on my way and they were out of my brand. This increased my bad-temper tenfold. Some guy approached me as I was leaving the store and started to say something to me and I just yelled, “Fuck! Off!” and stormed across the T tracks to the video store where I worked.
Strangers approaching me for reasons other than directions totally puts me off. My basic feelings about dealing with other people are
- I’m not interested in meeting you unless I already know you**.
- If I wanted to be talking to you, I would be.
Sometime after college, I stopped actually saying “Fuck. Off” out loud when guys approached me, deciding to go with a simple “No.” This went over even less well than my original approach but was decidedly less aggressive.
Guy: I just said “hi.”
Guy: What’s your problem?
[repeat ad nauseam until he goes away]
After doing this for a few years, I decided to use a Leave Me Alone face all the time when I wasn’t with friends. Basically, this is a neutral expression that doesn’t invite any advance. One must practice to get it right as it involves relaxed face muscles and distant eyes to send subtle body language cues that the wearer does not have time for you.
Most of the time, this works. Sometimes, people react poorly, thinking that I’m being a bitch or intentionally ignoring them or think I’m too good for them. What people don’t realize is that none of these things are true. I just genuinely have no interest in strangers and want them all to leave me alone. Again, if I’m not already talking to you, I can assure you that I don’t want to be.
→ “Queue” is the only word (in English, I think) that, if you remove all but one of its letters, is pronounced the same as the whole word. Thank you to the French language for making this possible (and really annoying).
→ I’ve gotten a lot of angry responses to my LMA face, but no one has ever found it funny, unlike this video which details the plight of women who suffer silently from Bitchy Resting Face.
→ The second season of Jerry Seinfeld‘s webseries is much better than the first. Sarah Silverman, a comedian whose brash style is usually too much for me, has a funny bit in a recent episode where she notices a teen girl’s unpleasant expression and says, “I’m going to change your life forever. That’s your default face? Put a smile on there.” It’s good advice, especially if your resting face is unpleasant.
→ Bringing this post full circle, Dame Helen Mirren, one of the more imposing ladies currently in existence, thinks that all girls should learn to say “fuck off” early and say it frequently. All hail the Queen!
* Infantile Head — like a baby’s head i.e. when you feel that any jostling, loud noise or bright light could cause permanent brain damage.
** Yes, I realize that this is impossible. THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT.