The Facial Epiphany

Posted: August 14, 2015 by S. Trevor Swenson in Uncategorized

Last weekend while having a lovely Thai dinner with my dear friends; Gow and Poopie Pants, I had an epiphany.  It wasn’t a particularly pleasant one, but I suppose the point of having epiphanies is to become enlightened or inspired, and not necessarily to feel warm and fuzzy.  This one had the opposite effect on me.  It made me feel gross and sweaty.  Hopefully I can move forward after this moment of inspired realization and be happier and wiser.

Anyhoo, as I said we were having Thai food at a recently discovered little gem of a Thai joint in my neighborhood.  I had dined there twice before.  Once with the Gow, who was just as thrilled as I was to discover a new and solid Thai restaurant close to my home, after our former go-to Thai place closed after being priced out of the neighborhood.  I had also gone there with my friends Armando, Adam and his wife Mara.  We’d just come from a housewarming party down the street and decided to get a bite together,  We had also asked some other friends at the housewarming to join us, but a couple of them had passed out at the party, which incidentally is an integral part of many of my friends housewarming parties…that and a token vomiting on the rug or sofa.  Armando and I know Adam and Mara from the bar where I work where they are regulars at my weekly “Verbal Abuse Trivia” event.  Adam and Mara are a vegetarian and a vegan and bless them, they aren’t the least bit annoying about it.  Thai has nice options for these dietary preferences too.  Our meal was great, but our waitress wasn’t so hot.  She tried, was demure and polite, but she was quite disorganized.  Still the meal was good and the service wasn’t bad enough to tip poorly for or comment to management about.
Gow, Poopie Pant’s and I had the same waitress.  We were also seated next to two women and a baby who was sleeping in it’s stroller.  Sadly it is not socially acceptable to request a different table “because I hate children and babies”.  The baby also stayed asleep and thankfully silent throughout the meal, so the only person who wasn’t behaving was me and my ever accompanying crappy attitude.
I mentioned to the girls that I’d had this waitress last week and she wasn’t great,  As if on cue she then brought over a dish that we didn’t order for confirmation.  The girls giggled about this.  Later the waitress took our order and began to walk away before we were finished ordering.  I called her back.  “Miss?….MISS?”.  She turned around and looked at me and then walked away again.  Being the tremendously impatient fellow I am I made a face.  That was when I had my epiphany.  I make faces of exaggerated annoyance and impatience very easily as well as unconsciously. Naturally I can’t see myself doing it, but I have a strong suspicion that they are expressions of serious anger and utter disgust.
Now that isn’t nice and it isn’t how I want to be perceived by others.  Who wants to be looked at with contempt and disgust at the drop of a ha?.  My only saving grace in regards to this, and it’s a very small saving grace is that it is totally unintentionally done. No, I am not a patient man,  Yes, I am easily annoyed and probably disgusted too easily as well.  However the minor incident of a waitress making a small mistake certainly doesn’t warrant the look I shot her, and a look that I shoot far too often and at far too many people.
That was my epiphany.
I don’t want to be that guy.  Self and impulse control are not my strong suits. In fact, I’m pretty awful at them.
I was reminded of a couple occasions in my past where my sour facial sneer has been remarked upon.  One was from my ex-girlfriend Michelle in Boston.  She actually encouraged this expression.  ” I love that face you make” she’d say as we walked down the street.  “What face?” I’d ask.  “That ‘I’ll-fucking-kill-you-face”.  I told her I wasn’t aware of this face.  I was 19 or 20 at the time and a punk rocker.  I suppose that expression is de rigueur for young punks in their tweens.  So it wasn’t such a problem back then.  It went well with the Sid Vicious hair, leather jacket and the boots…plus the girl I was borking at that time was into it.
The second time my expression was mentioned to me was by my former employer; Wayne.  I was being “spoken to” about my attitude and impatience at work, which has been a reoccurring bone of contention between myself, customers, coworkers and employers.  One seldom likes being spoken to at work, and no one likes to hear that they have lousy attitude either.  It took me a very long time to comprehend that customers, many of whom may be acting like idiots or animals, don’t care for being sneered or barked at.  Employers aren’t generally thrilled with this either. 
I had discussed the attitudinal reprimands with my mother on a few occasions.  She laid down some great mommy wisdom on me.  First she explained that we can’t, and often don’t or wont see what we look or sound like to other people.  I could understand that.  I didn’t like it, and I probably cried when my mother told me this,  but I got  it.  She also explained that I wasn’t particularly patient and that I should work on this shortcoming if it was getting me in trouble at work or in life.
The problem here was that my mother could tell me these things and eventually get me to stop crying by telling me I was a “nice boy”. My boss Wayne was quite possibly the worst person in this hemisphere to be critical of my or anyone’s facial expressions.  Wayne was born without a sense of humor, and went through life with a perfect upside down letter “U” lemon sucking puss on his mug.   Furthermore, Wayne wasn’t ever doing anything work-wise to warrant such an expression.  He was generally standing around, arms folded and looking angry at his employees who were busting their humps and making him rich.  My favorite anecdote regarding Wayne’s management style was that he once spend 20 minutes looking for me to inform me that there was an empty bottle in the bathroom.  Now he could have taken 5 seconds to pick the bottle up and place it on the bar for disposal.
Maybe this is how epiphanies work.  People need to discover universal truths on their own.  Realizing that I make disgusted and annoyed faces as an all too frequent knee-jerk reaction is quite possibly a big step. How I stop doing it with such frequency is another matter. 
In closing I want to apologize to those who have had the dubious honor of my patented look of disgust and annoyance. I hope it is no small consolation for me to tell you, that it’s me, not you.  Perhaps you did something slightly annoying or rude, but based on what I know about Scott Trevor Swenson, the chances are, I over-reacted or reacted badly out of a very bad habit that I am trying to break.
  1. Ralph Tyler says:

    I didn’t know about your punk-rocker past. That probably explains a lot, for in that world bad temper was eulogized—it must have been the way to go, a snarl a minute. In boots and leather jacket, hate rules! And of course there are so many things worthy of hate. I’ve seen that look on your face when a customer gets too importunate at a trivial pursuits session, but only briefly, rather comically, nothing to take offence about. I believe the true you is how you handle that crowd so adroitly, with a genuine kindness I’ve benefited by. Ralph

  2. Ralph. This comment made my day. You’re a very kind man and I am honored to call you a friend.


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