A Poker Face is a face lacking any interpretable expression. I had to clarify because I am clearly unaware from innate knowledge.
If you too are puzzled, a great example is the police officer that pulled you over for exceeding safe and posted speed. The one who knows you were speeding and knows YOU know you were speeding. He is the one who inquires if you were aware of your speed to which you reply by saying, Hmmmmm, and make that puzzled look on your face like you were just asked whether Andalusia is or is not part of the Kingdom of Spain. Or you say you were in such a huge hurry only by necessity to bring home medicinal supplies to the orphaned bear cub you saved from the burning woods behind your house. That face he wears as you babble your story? A poker face.
I come from a family of reactive people. The gene code for "poker face" was diluted from our lineage long ago. Not a soul in our family can pull it off, I promise you. Others have this capability, and perhaps are better for it but I think poker face can be a debit and a credit. Let me explain.
Not everyone wears their emotion on their sleeve. Ingenious for people who face danger or uncomfortable news on a daily basis. Would you want your doctor to look at your x-rays and scrunch up her face? Or Anderson Cooper to read the news with a scowl, or worse, a tear in his eye? No. And while the police, media, and various medical personnel are often trained to show minimal to no reaction, this is not a personal development course I have had the privilege of attending.
Poker Face Training (PFT) could have benefited me OH so many times. Let me name a few.
PFT needed: when a former leader of a visiting corporation asked during a negotiation meeting what was the difference between "state" and "federal".
Or when my best friend showed me the sweater she received from her mother-in-law which had a fake vest front sewn on the sides, was enormously too big, and had Cat O' Nine Tails on the front including some faux "cat o' nine tails" material actually glued on the front to give that billowy willowy look of cat o' nine tails blowing in breeze. (She didn't have a poker face either, believe me.)
Or the time my neighbor brought us a cake she made and upon one bite, my husband and I thought it was an iced roll of wet toilet paper. The same neighbor who criticizes every one else's cooking.
Or when playing golf with some conservative executives, one of them missed his shot and yelled "Son of a whore!!!!"
Or when I went to a famous comedy club in California with my father and older brother. It was all fun and games and laughing hysterically, until the famous comedian who shall remain nameless started talking about oral pleasure. And I was sitting between my FATHER and OLDER BROTHER. Vomit.
And PFT would have helped me even back in the day, when I was just getting situated in the world. Like when I came home one day and my roommate was wearing one of my dresses, that she cut the tags off.
Or when dining with a college boyfriend at his parents house for the first time, his mom called me his former girlfriends name, not once, not twice, but three times. And then wanted my help to clean up after dinner. And wash dishes. Lack of poker face on my part? Not once, not twice, but three times.
But, having a poker face at all time does have its drawbacks. Have you ever tried to give a really great surprise to someone who has mastered the art of poker face so well they show no emotion? I have and its a little less fun than it could be. Since we are a family of reactors, I know that reactors are ideal people to give gifts or plan great surprises. Because the enthusiasm is unbridled, the joy uncontained. And sometimes, seeing that face of exuberance is worth a million dollars.So, as with many things in life, balance is the key. I am delighted that I show true excitement for all things wonderful, and I will continue to work on keeping it expressionless when necessary. But I think I have a long route, and it will not come easily as I am already making a face as I merely type the words.