The Expression With No Name

Today’s post is from Bill.

I’ve been bothered lately by the appearance of a new facial expression, at least it’s new to me. I don’t recall ever seeing it on a human face until the last few years and never on a normal person in real life. In this expression, the lips are pressed tightly together and the mouth is bent down sharply at the corners. But I wouldn’t call it a frown– there’s no participation in the expression by the eyes or the eyebrows or any other part of the physiognomy.

You will have guessed by now that I’m describing Senator Mitch McConnell and he is certainly the primary practitioner of that facial gesture, although I’ve also seen it on various other politicians who have been caught embarrassing themselves. I’ve tried to make the expression myself and it isn’t that easy to maintain. It seems to be Senator McConnell’s default expression, so maybe we don’t need a specific name for that look when it happens on his face, but when it is adopted by other public figures, how should we describe it to someone? I suppose we could say, “He (or She) McConnelled”, but that’s too much McConnell for me.

Still, without an apt descriptive word for it, our ability to communicate is hobbled. I don’t think that expression is going away anytime soon.

So what should we call it?

30 thoughts on “The Expression With No Name”

  1. I want to call it the RMF. I’ll explain in a moment.

    Something that fascinates me is how our culture insists on treating the two genders so differently. The first negative word used to describe a female is “bitch.” The culture is mighty harsh with women perceived as bitchy.

    And yet there is no equivalent for males. I’ve known many negative, yappy, uncooperative men. But it seems that being bitchy is perceived as a uniquely female sin. Why?

    Getting back to your question, the classic Mitch McConnell look is his unique blend of cluelessness and his special deer-in-the-headlights way of expressing it. He looks–to quote Abraham Lincoln–“like a duck hit on the head.” Events are spinning wildly out of control, but McConnell struggles to hide his confusion with that blank expression.

    It is his “Resting McConnell Face.”

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    1. As I mentioned in the post, I’ve tried making the expression. I thought it might give me some insight into the state of mind behind it. I get nothing.

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  2. Rise and Grimace Baboons!

    Oh, Bill. You leave me in awe of your perceptions. I am giggling. This strikes me as wildly funny. Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me did a funny and disrespectful riff on Sen. McConnell’s appearance and facial expressions several weeks ago. This poor guy really did get a tough genetic load in the looks department. I never thought of the turtle face, but you have a point.

    I will need to play with the name for this all day. Right now I am thinking of words like “vexed,” “I hate my job,” “The president is making my life miserable,” but none of those phrases really do it.

    Meanwhile, well done Bill.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Jacque.
      One of the points I wanted to make is that the expression seems to be spreading. That face I can’t recall seeing before the last few years is now commonplace. It certainly conveys frustration but at the same time it has a soulless quality.
      I’ve been paying attention to body language lately and especially that of the chief executive. There are sites online that delineate the meaning of particular hand gestures and those of the C. E. Are so artificial I suspected they were significant. That could be a post of its own.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jacque – and our photo- may have the best clue. Just call it “the turtle” – it conveys that you’d really rather pull hour head and feet back into your shell and hide, but know you can’t. Or perhaps it is the “turtle without a shell” – the sudden realization that you have gotten yourself into something or done something horrid and wish you could hide, and you can’t. Though frankly, calling it “the turtle” gives a bad name to turtles everywhere.

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  4. Downward Dog (yoga term). The face I cannot look at, however, is Trump’s. It’s like a Jim Carey rubber face and who he is shows a constant transparency of his arrested development. I can’t recall one single photo or video of that face that wasn’t that of a mugging (smugging) petulant child. He can hide behind ceaseless lie and obfuscation, but that face betrays him.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “RMF”?
    That’s good. Not quite the way I heard it originally… and it’s surprising how once you hear a name and make a connection how often you’ll find a RBF. I mean RMF.
    A friend of mine was at a car dealership at the same time Kelly and I were.
    We were doing a trade with a good salesman we were having fun with and it was going OK (for a used car dealership).
    Friend was still looking but was being pressured. And his body language was all closed off; one arm across his chest, the other hand on his cheek. Plus not only the salesman but the manager were working on him.
    I was about to go ask if those two gentlemen were bothering him when he finally got away.

    A few years ago I was on a committee with a couple women who disagreed with almost everything. And their ‘Nay’ vote was usually followed with ‘Well I don’t know why we….. ‘ whatever.
    I would come home and describe them to Kelly as ‘Shriveled up old ladies’.
    And I apologize to women everywhere but seriously, that’s what these two looked like. Pinched face, scowl, and bad attitude. The works.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I suppose Senator M’s expression could be the result of aging and saggy face muscles.

    I am finished with two days of regulatory training, and my face isn’t frowning a bit. I also finished my family therapy workshop in Brookings. I wasn’t frowny the day of the workshop but was somewhat less animated, according to my son, due to a flare up of diverticulitis.

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