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So I had a great opportunity yesterday and I had to share it with you guys. Unfortunately, due to some of it being classified I can’t really get into the details. Yup, that’s right. Classified. Aren’t I an important motherf*cker!?!?
Anyways, if any of you have seen the show Lie To Me you’ll get a kick out of this. Basically the show is based on a character, Cal Lightman, who is a human lie detector. He goes around solving all kinds of crazy problems and he can tell when you’re fibbing. He uses facial expressions, or microexpressions, which are fleeting and involuntary emotions that cross your face in approximately 1/25th of a second.
But wanna know the cool part? The show is based on an actual guy named Paul Ekman, who made microexpressions his life’s work. Wanna know what’s cooler than that? Well, I’m not confirming anything but I may have been able to speak with this legend and I may be writing about it soon.
But guess what? That’s not the coolest part. That would be the fact that one of Ekman’s students, who I’m associated with (but cannot reveal on these pages), gave a lecture on the topic yesterday which I was able to attend. The man is what they call a “truth wizard” and is one of only 50 of his kind in the entire country. And yesterday, he taught a bunch of us how to spot emotions just by reading people’s faces.
It was truly remarkable and not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty damn good at it.
Before he gave us any training, he showed us the faces of 14 people. At first they had no emotion, but we had to keep watching until a microexpression popped up in that 1/25th of a second (truly a blur and if you blink you miss it). Then, we had to identify the person’s emotion as either sad, happy, surprised, disgusted, fearful, contempt or anger.
Although most people get between 4 and 7 right at first, I got 10 correct. By the end of the training, when he gives a 28 question test, I got 23 correct.
Afterward, one of my co-workers suggested I was doing so well because of Will and paying attention to all of his facial cues. I scoffed at the idea at first, but then I thought about it and I think she’s right. He’s at the age where he wears all of his emotions on his sleeve (and if he’s like me, he’ll never stop). He’s a living, breathing case study and opportunity for me to practice every single day, because his expressions are so pure and unadulterated. For instance…
This is Will at Roger Williams Park Zoo on Mother’s Day. Notice that he’s staring daggers at the girl at the bottom of the picture, who’s crowding him in an attempt to view the peacock just off camera. He’s obviously unhappy, the left side of his mouth in a slight snarl and his eyebrows lowered and drawn in slightly. The bubble over his head should read “Bitch, get away from my peacock.”
This was taken a few months ago when I was shirking my fatherly duties and not feeding him fast enough. See the eyes squinted? But most telling is the middle of his face where his nose is scrunched up. That combined with the fact that you can see his top teeth clearly convey the message of “DAD, FEED ME YOU MORON!”
Here’s a picture of Will at the New England Aquarium right after a huge shark went by and captivated him. Notice the wide eyes, arched eyebrows and the start of an “Oh wow look at that” shape of his mouth.
He also tends to make this face when I catch him fiddling with the electrical outlet covers and I shout “NO! DON’T TOUCH!” really loudly and he gets startled.
This one is pretty self-explanatory and not coincidentally, it is the easiest emotion to spot. Big wide smile? Check. Twinkle in the eyes? Check. Cute as friggin hell? Chiggity Check!
And if you think this is just an excuse to run this unbelievably adorable picture of my son a second time, well…you wouldn’t be all wrong.
So I guess in addition to all the other wonderful things Will brings to our lives, he’s also helping me professionally as well. Is there anything this kid can’t do.
And by the way, I would’ve showed you plenty of other examples of anger, disgust and sadness but MJ wouldn’t consent to any more pictures of her up here. But when you’re married to a schmuck like me, those kinds of emotions are inevitable!