Wednesday, October 5, 2005

You Say Potato, I Say Enthusiasm Regulator

Let me be clear: the gentleman pictured at the right here is not me.

Check back with me in 12-15 years, but I digress.

But if you look carefully at his expression, and you saw me at work, at the store, at the gym, taking out the trash, walking my pet rock or on any kind of regular basis, you'd think we were one.

And that we were mightily bored.

I'm here to tell you, it ain't so. It just looks like that.

If you're the least bit familiar with the comic genius of Buster Keaton, it was he who made 'dead pan' famous, and it appeared to come so natural to him. I was years in my envy.

In the last 10 years, I have been accused of having just such a 'dead pan' expression, oft-times in a back-handed complimentary fashion. Friends and coworkers know it well. It wasn't always true: I was quite expressive in my youth. It usually got me in trouble: in school, in public, at the dinner table, on some of the most inopportune occasions.

That expressiveness didn't serve me well in young adulthood, particularly in my chosen vocations of law enforcement, and later on industrial, corporate, and gaming industry security. A college professor of mine once taught us that a key phrase for our line of work should always be adhered to, particularly in crisis management: keep the situation from getting worse; you getting emotional won't accomplish that.

A bit too much expressiveness and overenthusiasm could be ruinous.

And, of course, I'm a guy: we're expected to be strong. Silent. Hard to read, like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, or Al Gore.

That was one baaaaad book, but I digress.

On sparse occasions, I have relapses toward overt expressiveness, even as a pseudo/reluctant adult. It's useful now and again: after all, when listening to someone about something important to them -- even when I'm truly interested in hearing what they have to say -- it tends to go over like a fart in an elevator when my expression is akin to the photo; I have a couple dents in my head and countless "you insensitive (expletive)" labels attached to me to prove it.

But the 'dead pan' so superbly portrayed by Buster has served me well on many occasions down the years, especially when you don't want to let them "see you bleed". It didn't come naturally to me; I had to work at it.

For my first 20 some-odd years, it was an uphill struggle: especially when I was involved in public sector security and/or law enforcement, and having to deal with rather emotional persons, fresh from some real or perceived slight to their rights, property, ego, etc. Whilst they emoted and vented, I was required to be the epitome of calm and collected.

I even had to perfect the subtle, melee-averting art of covertly biting the lip to keep from laughing in the face of a person who was so laboriously putting their personal "I'm a self-centered, 50%-off-the-defective-gene-pool-sale, whiny buffoonesque moron" sign on public display.

I've gotten pretty good at it. But as stated, I wasn't a natural; I needed help.

And my faux company of faux products for all sorts of dubious occasions -- Bonco, UnInc. -- came through for me in a big way, with my own personal Enthusiasm Regulator By Bonco.

Batteries not included. Of course.

Now, when I'm working on a project at work, and some schmu..fellow employee, noting my surface lack of enthusiasm, comments about it, I just give them my standard 'Buster Keaton playing poker' face, and say "I'm fine; really. It's just my enthusiasm regulator is engaged".

"Your what?"

"My enthusiasm regulator".

Some know better than to ask further, but the uninitiated just can't help themselves, being from the "inquiring minds want to know" generation. So I 'splain it thus: the average person is only blessed with so much enthusiasm for a 24 hour period. Deduct from that the waste or "latent" enthusiasm that is used up when one is asleep (dreaming, sleepwalking, the unexplained woodies, etc), first waking up, on the can, or generally in a place where run-of-the-mill enthusiasm isn't needed for the moment, and you only have a residual x amount of enthusiasm for those waking hours wherein public intercourse demands it be applied.

Some folks seem to be blessed with more natural enthusiasm than others. Me, well...when I was born, something went pbbbbbbt besides my backside when the doctor decided to instill my first blast of conscious enthusiasm on my aforementioned backside with the flat of his hand. Whatever it was, I was shorted a full ration of enthusiasm.

Perhaps it was the fact that the doctor welcomed me with that 'whack' at 4:45am. Wake me up that way now, you best be wearing body armor.

At any rate, it wasn't right, it wasn't fair, and some stupid liberal didn't look out for me by demanding that a greedy, mean-spirited rich, overachieving enthusiast give me some of that which I was entitled to but was shorted of through no fault of my own...*snort*

... so I just make due.

And thanks to The Personal Enthusiasm Regulator By Bonco, I make due just nicely. By rationing my daily dose of enthusiasm, so as to never run out at the worst possible time.

Thus, my oft-times 'dead pan' expression that suggests to some that I'm bored with life, them, my work, my culinary disasters, my relationship apocalypses, and/or am hiding my emotions behind a shield of stolid *yawn*... is really little more than the result of my very effective enthusiasm regulator. It is merely seeing that I don't run out of necessary enthusiasm before my daily activities and need for enthusiasm for that day are done.

That usually satisfies the inquirer. That they shouldn't have bothered.

At any rate, should we -- you, the reader, and me, the blogger -- ever meet, don't for a minute think that my expression (as depicted above) suggests I am disappointed or unimpressed with what I behold.

It's just me and my enthusiasm regulator, making sure I keep a little extra in reserve, in case an unnamed blogging pal ever arranges for me to meet Barbara Feldon.



Blogger Karen said...

You crack me up!

Sometimes my enthusiasm regulator is broken but for the most part, I can't keep a straight face. Except of course when I'm playing a prank. ;-)

Have a good day!

06 October, 2005 07:28  
Blogger Monica said...

I swear if I could arrange that woman on a platter for you I would. You are so bad.

06 October, 2005 12:15  
Blogger FTS said...

We must be twins separated at birth -- or at least from the same clan. People are always assuming I don't care or am bored, when actually I'm listening to what they're saying. I just don't get worked up over things.

Remember Johnny Unitas? You could never tell whether the man had just thrown a touchdown or an interception by the look on his face when he walked off the field.

It's not that I'm emotionless. I obviously have one of those "enthusiasm regulators" installed and didn't ever realize it.

My mother is a different story. She comes unglued whenever her world is tilted ever so slightly...

06 October, 2005 13:42  
Blogger FTS said...

Oh -- and leave the man alone about Barbara Feldon. I've been in love with Marie Osmaond since we were both seventeen.


06 October, 2005 13:45  

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