This is a post for Flashback Friday from November 23, 2007.  While I feel somewhat bad that my last two posts have essentially been re-posts, it actually means I’m doing lots of animation now instead of writing which is very good for my upcoming film, This Too Shall Pass.


I always wondered why, whenever I started to speak Italian to strangers they would often screw up their faces in a look of extreme concentration as I tried to communicate. I always used to think that perhaps my Italian was just bad and they were struggling to understand me.

As an experiment over the last few weeks, I made sure that everything I said was clear and accurate with proper pronunciation. Still the other peoples’ faces were full of struggle and concentration.

When I went on my trip a few weeks ago to Denmark and Sweden I bought a book on Body Language for the plane ride. One of my students did a thesis project about it last year and so I have been interested ever since. The other day I came to the part where it says that people often mirror our own facial expressions. So was it me? I tried to feel if my face was doing anything strange as I spoke. Nope. It felt fine. No undue facial struggling was felt and yet I kept getting those strange looks.

Today finally, I did what I have been avoiding for weeks. I looked into a mirror while speaking Italian to myself.

Dio! My face felt perfectly normal, but there it was! The LOOK of Extreme Concentration and Struggle! It’s mainly that my eyebrows come down to meet my eyes and then push down towards my nose like the eyebrows of a stereotypical villain in a Disney movie.

Great. I tried saying something else to myself in Italian with this new-found awareness. Of course, “ciao” and other things that are second nature came out with a normal face. If I then tried to ask for an appointment or to formulate a more complex question and I was worried that I might make a mistake, there was the LOOK.

I’m not sure how to undo the LOOK. Limoncello maybe? Grappa? Dark sunglasses? Help.


*A note from my future 2013 self: I’m happy to report that I only get a funny look from Italians once in a while now. My Italian is far from perfect but I also feel more confident that I will eventually communicate my point despite my mistakes. So that’s something anyway. I COULD use a new pair of sunglasses though.