Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Duchenne smile

Who uses it: Psychologists and physiologists
What it means: A true smile, which engages the muscles around the eyes as well as the muscles around the mouth. Duchenne was the French physiologist who mapped the muscles of the face, and determined that genuine smiles involve two sets of muscles.
How to use it: To bust fake smiles.

And because it's in my head now, I have to quote a line from one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs: "In fourteen months, I only smiled once, and I didn't do it consciously." (The song is "Up to Me," and it could be my own life's theme song. It's only available on the Biograph box set.)

The man who took my picture for my Maine driver's license asked me to smile, and I did, but that picture looked so unlike my face in repose that he decided he couldn't use it. After all, it's unlikely that I would be smiling in most situations where I had to hand over my driver's license.

I read somewhere that dogs only "smile" at humans, that it's something we teach them to do. Dogs bare their teeth at each other as a sign of aggression, although a happy dog relaxes its upper lip, so that you see teeth when the dog rolls on its back.

Happy birthday today to my old friend Cynthia Rivera Hunt. Anna said to me yesterday, "I realized I'm not getting any younger," and I understood that she didn't mean it as a cliche. It was one of those "startle" moments, like the shock I had recently when I realized that someone I thought of as middle-aged -- geezery, even -- was only three years older than I am. The advantage of old friends is that we continue to see each other as we first knew each other; since we all age together, we can preserve the illusion that none of us are aging at all.

2 comments:

Tom Ehrenfeld said...

Everything went from bad to worse, money never changed a thing...

Jeez, ya seem to love the bleak here. Up to Me is one of the great unheralded Dylan classics, and like so many of his epics, he sings of loss, of what one must give up and abide by to live the life they must live (to live outside the law you must be honest), of the consequences of choice....sure, everything is broken but there's still State Fairs and sonnets.

I like the upside-down smile observation.

AnswerGirl said...

The verse I love -- which should have been the epigram for Chronicles -- is the one that goes:

If I'd have thought about it, I never would have done it
I guess I would have let it slide
If I'd have paid attention to what others were thinking
The heart inside me would have died
But I was just too stubborn to ever be governed by enforced insanity
Someone had to reach for the risin star
I guess it was up to me.