Thursday, September 17, 2009

Poker Face: This is what I need

Do you know what a poker face is? Some one wanted a reiteration. Here you are:

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.

75 comments:

WhisperingWriter said...

Eek about your neighbor.

That's how I cook but I know better than to serve my food to other people.

Jen said...

I, like you, suffer from not being able to create an adequate poker face. I have a tough time lying. You pretty much know how I feel by looking on my face. Great post. Really enjoyed it.

Tammy Howard said...

Poker face? I do not have one of those. My heart is firmly on my sleeve. Sometimes I would've benefited from PFT, too, but for the most part - no regrets! I prefer knowing where I stand!

Sabrina said...

I try... but I fail. I re-act to everything and I can't hide it! My problem is that I smile and laugh even when I'm upset. I should get a mean poker face!

Char said...

LOL well, usually when I see a no expression face I know something is up. good thing my brother is a police officer

Dutch donut girl said...

I can switch my poker face on and off. Sometimes (stupid) people need to know what I'm thinking :)

"And I was sitting between my FATHER and OLDER BROTHER. Vomit."

Sorry, that's just hilarious!

Kristina P. said...

All I know is that Lady Gaga's Poker Face song is about her making out with a girl, and coming home to her boyfriend. Super classy.

SUGAR said...

wow, i loved this post!! im really bad at it too, im also a really bad liar because my face gives it away all the time :(

but yeah, i think its cute when you cant hide your blushes or laughter or whatnot! better then being like an ice queen or something ;)

sugar
xoxo

FROM THE RIGHT BANK said...

This is something I definitely need to work on! You can tell exactly what I'm thinking by looking at me. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

Glamour Girl said...

Yeah - I'm bad at this too! To the point that my college acting professor kept telling me not to "indicate" meaning that I was indicating my emotion on my face instead of actually "feeling" it. Whatever that means! My 5 year old asked what a poker-face was a couple weeks ago while we were singing along to Lady Gaga, "My my my poker face, my my poker face..."

Gin said...

I was never any good at having a poker face. This cracked me up! Ask me about my poker-face when my father-in-law was staying with us and decided to walk into our bedroom without knocking while I was standing there in a very sexy black velvet bra and thong. Nope...no poker face.

KLaw said...

You and me both. I can't keep a straight face to save my life! How can you NOT laugh at that horrible sweater and the toilet paper cake? Goo!

Heather said...

Ask Lady Gaga, she has all the answers!

I too, tend to express my reaction immediately and could use a little PFT.

sheila said...

Sometimes i can eek out a good poker face...but mostly i just blurt out the truth. It's a sickness.

:)

Dumbwit Tellher ♥ said...

I adore your posts. When you remarked you are from a family of expressive people..well, that's us. I am horribly expressive, so much so that people say I make the goofiest of faces. I need to seriously take your advice!

Great job :p

otherworldlyone said...

Hahaha! Son of a whore. NICE.

I'm often called heartless because of my award winning poker face. It's not intentional, it's habit. That being said, I AM entirely capable of showing excessive amounts of enthusiasm.

Living on the Spit said...

I have been told I have a great poker face, but when planning surprises or need an unbridled expression, it comes very naturally.

Maybe we should talk...

Dan. said...

I suffer from too much poker face. Apparently nobody can ever tell my expression. I could be told my flat is on fire and it would hardly raise one quizzical eyebrow.
That’s probably why no one ever holds surprise parties for me.

JenJen said...

Wet rolled shit tickets??? GA-ROSS!
You crack me up.
Sending you a cocktail. Not a pussywillow.

Yankee Girl said...

First of all, Anderson Cooper= yum!

I lack a poker face as well. I also lack that little screen in the back of your throat that catches all of those comments and remarks that were not thought out.

Lisa and Laura said...

My poker face is nonexistent. I've always been a wear your heart on your sleeve kind of gal, and I'm ok with that. What you see is what you get, baby!

The Peach Tart said...

I got good at poker face after years of sales contract negotiations. Like when I would get someone to sign a really big contract, I had to try hard not to belt out a hallelujah and start doing the high five. That was before the fist bump.

Mo said...

I wish. I'm called 'the face' as I am the exact opposit of PFT. Could have saved myslef a lot of grief if I had the training.

Monroes said...

double blessing for me, not only do I lack PFT but also have ill timing involuntary blushing...
lovely in a work environment....

Mom of Opiate Addict said...

I also don't have much of a poker face, like the time a young woman asked me when I was expecting at a wake we were attending. When I asked her expecting what, she said your baby...with no poker face at all I explained to her that I was just fat! Love this post, thanks for the laughs!!!

Stephanie Faris said...

I'm one of those people who wears her heart on her sleeve, sadly. Which means I suck at Poker! We play sometimes with family and my boyfriend, who's really good at it, can read me every time.

FunnyGal KAT said...

I think you just helped me discover my talent. I am very good at the poker face. I can lie all day with a straight face (uh, only little white lies, of course). Now if I could just get the hang of poker, I would have somewhere to use my talent.

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

I have no poker face, which could explain why I can't bluff well when we play our yearly family poker game on Christmas!

Vodka Logic said...

Talk about emotions on their sleeve, that is my middle, no, first name.

Went to the movies with my mother once, when I was in HS. Was meant to be American Graffiti (or the like and yes I am that old), it wasn't playing so we saw Serpico...every other word is f*ck.. oh my. She remembers it too.

xx

Another great post JennyMac

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

My poker face doesn't exist. I've had plenty of people ASK to play poker with me for that exact reason. But then every so often I get someone with my unexpected poker face and feel like I've hit the jackpot.

Emily said...

Practice makes perfect! I think I have a pretty good poker face...my family and I love to play that board game Balderdash so maybe that's why. (Yes, I saw that "you're a dork look" flash across your face!) ;)

La La La Leah said...

My face is awesome...... Its pretty much a cross between a Poker Face and Game Face... AND a blank stare.... Its very confusing to all involved.

I really want to know who that comedian was... I am laughing about that now.

Aren't you glad you did not marry into that family.... what a d*bag.

Angie S said...

HA!! The cat sweater description was awesome! Damn that's funny. I can see it now. What a sad sad waste of fabric.

♥Aubrey said...

I'm GRRREAT at playing poker...they can't tell my poker face :)-
Oh my lady...the comedy club...REALLY??!! Between your dad & brother...i would have shat in my pants of humiliation. Not the subject to have heard with them. Ya know!!!

carma said...

Oh, this is good; I could have used it when I was asked to volunteer for something I didn't really want to do and I said sure, but my facial expression gave away that I was not too thrilled and my husband had to say to me afterward, "couldn't you have been nicer about it?"

Nah, I'm not too good at hiding my emotions when I am not pleased; gotta work on that.

Cookie Crums said...

I'm good at keeping a straight face until I get thoroughly annoyed. Then all bets are off and you know it's about to hit the fan. I've thrown my little one the "annoyed" look several times.....he has since thrown it back at me a time or two. Little punk! :)

Mrs. Montoya said...

Always brilliant and effing hilarious. And they only say "son of a whore" in the South. I kinda miss it :)

Intense Guy said...

I can do poker face - dead pan - and simple non-reaction... but I would have laughed my ass off at the bozo that didn't know the difference between state and federal (unless they were from out of the country).

Sassy Chica said...

You know I always thought I had an awesome poker face, until I read your post, now come to think of it I may be in the middle of the road between pokerface and wear your heart on your sleeve???

Smooches,
Sassy Chica

Ju said...

Love the story of the comedy club, just brilliant. That's a difficult one to pull it off.
BTW I have given you the Zombie Chicken Award, is there in my blog waiting for you; it will make sense when you read it hahaha

Shorty said...

I love it when something makes me laugh out loud, and girl, you did it with the "son of a whore" comment!

and I must admit I'm usually sans poker face, too. But, I've prided myself on being pretty transparent. If I'm mad, you'll know it; happy, you'll see my face shining; irritated, my eyes will be a'glarin'. But the times when I hate being transparent is when I'm reduced to tears which sometimes happens when I get madder than hell. So, I've got some facial expressions to work on, too! Keep me posted on what you figure out works! : )

sarah @ life {sweet} life said...

I'd like to think I have a pretty good poker face, but I'm pretty sure my husband would want to send me to PFT. Great post!

Margaret aka: Fact Woman said...

I don't know if my poker face would be up to par if I had been at the comedy club with my dad and brother. OMGosh this was hysterical. Thanks for a great laugh today. I look forward to following your blog!!

Cookie said...

Keeping a poker face is hard when your face turns bright red...

Erin said...

My poker face is broken and only last 3 seconds. Then I'm in that awkward trying-to-hold-it-together zone. Then my true thoughts shoot out of my mouth and plaster themselves on my face.

controlled chaos said...

I have issues with making poker faces. Like I can have a poker face, but my words fail me.
Or the rest of my body.

foxy said...

I can pull it together when it's a life or death (or similar) situation... other than that, I'm a heart-on-the-sleeve kinda girl. I have to admit, I'm unable to hide my reaction when you tell me you're not into vampires or Twilight... the sheer disbelief shows on my face every time you say it... ;)

HalfAsstic.com said...

I personally think that having the ability to with hold emotion on your face us over rated. I believe an honest reaction can be priceless. Well, I can see how this is not always the case... but in general!

Kathy B! said...

I'd pay money for a poker face. I've come to the conclusion you're either born with it... or you're SOL.

Jules said...

You'll have to teach me to have a poker face. I show EVERYTHING on mine.

Mark said...

I have a major poker face, as a matter of fact I have been accused of being apathetic when inside I was feeling the emotion however it was not showing on my face. Like you said, sometimes it is good and sometimes it can be mis-read as not being engaged or not caring.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

"Son of a whore!" Now that's got to go down as one of the most bizarre exclamations in history, both state and federal!

Whimsical Creations said...

LOL, I do not have a poker face either.

Kelly H-Y said...

I love it ... PFT!! Hilarious post!

the walking man said...

JennyM a poker face comes from a killer instinct I hope you never develop a poker face.

Yaya said...

I think I'll stick with my stink-eye face....

blueviolet said...

I have a date with the mirror now. I need to see what I can work out with my face.

Bloggin Betty said...

Stank faces are just more fun to make.

Eva Gallant said...

Have a pretty good poker face when necessary...And Balderdash definitely calls for it. Don't know shit about playing poker,though!

Melissa B. said...

Or the wedding present I received, oh, so long ago. An unattractive frame with an unattractive snap of President Richard Nixon contained therein. At least a decade after the man's administration, too. Strange...

Big Dave T said...

Not only do I NOT have a poker face, I display what is called "inappropriate emotional affect." For example, my wife likes to remind me of the time when our teacher was saying about our first grade son, "He's mean." While it nearly brought my wife to tears, I chuckled. That would have been a great time to have a poker face.

M-Cat said...

No poker face here. But my sons friend? Oy Vay that kid comes home from Vegas every weekend so much richer!

Laura Trevey said...

I might have to remember that one ~~

PFT

I like it !!!
xo Laura

J.J. in L.A. said...

On the cruise, there was a 'Raunchy Comedy Show' the last night. The guy talked about oral pleasure and my older brother and I laughed our @$$es off, while my mom was silent. For once, I wasn't the one who was embarassed.

TechnoBabe said...

I agree that a poker face is a learned trait. Everyone says I wear my heart on my sleeve, and that I show my feelings so that people never have to guess what is going on with me. Even if I can keep a grin hidden my eyes tell all.

Nap Warden said...

I need a poker face. Oh and the comedy club...I would have died:O

Alexis AKA MOM said...

I so don't have one either, I'm the worst.

OMGosh you have to say the comedian that is just crazy!

That sweater is freaking too funny, this would be something my MIL would make for me!

Unknown Mami said...

So what is the difference between state and federal? Just kidding.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I'm still pondering the iced roll of wet toilet paper. And even though I'm alone at my computer, I was unable to manage a poker face throughout this delightful post.

ladytruth said...

Now that roommate and dress situation didn't call for a pokerface, but rather a big crack to her sweet, stealing face for taking your clothes and thinking she could fool you.

Dustjacket Attic said...

No I'm not renown for my poker face. I may need to practice. That sweater ... my lord! That's something my MIL would do...and your dress .. seriously interesting roommate!!
xoxo

Michaela said...

I need to go to a Poker Face Training session - my face is like an open book, which is not always a good thing!

M@ said...

Oh great, now I have that Lady Gaga song going through my head.

Poker face cuts both ways, you hit on it being a balance. Smart :)

Baby Mama said...

LOL. me too! i wear all my emotions on my face. and now i have lady gaga stuck in my head. ;p

Hannah Miet said...

ohhh mannnnn, do I ever commiserate. Not only do I not have a poker face, but I can't keep my eyes from rolling. They have a mind of their own.