Thursday, April 9, 2015

If You Only Knew....

This week I learned there is a word for what I've done for most of my life.

Apodyopsis Mentally undressing someone; picturing someone naked.

I do this a lot.  In fact, I'm pretty good at it.  I can look at a woman and within a matter of seconds instantly picture her totally naked. 

It's a skill I have cultivated over years through practice and research.

It has gotten me into trouble a few times.  Plus, a number of women have assumed I'm engaged in apodyopsis when in fact, I'm really just staring off into nothing while I plan how to destroy the world.

When I was in high school, I had a teacher who was stunningly beautiful.

Well, okay, not really.  But she had a body that was killer and legs that, to this day, are the template of what great legs are supposed to be.  And while I'm not into feet, she had these delicate high arches and would sit with her legs crossed and let one of her high heeled shoes hang off the tips of her toes.  I would sit all through class and watch as she flipped that shoe back and forth.

But as you can imagine, I creeped her out.  Seriously.  I gave her the willies, the wiggins, the heebie-jeebies and the bad vibes.  She was genuinely disturbed by me. 

I'm used to that now.  Most women are really bothered by me. It's as if the very act of looking at them sends up a giant flag announcing my apodyopsis skills.

On my report card, my lovely teacher wrote, "Ted appears to be paying attention."  In truth, I was honing my apodyopsis skills, and carefully studying those amazing legs. 

When I was a Junior, she couldn't take another year of me looking at her like a wolf watching Little Red Riding Hood so she created a Special Project for me to do.  It was something that I had to go off to the library alone for and wouldn't have to be in class.  She got rid of me.

I still think about those legs.  And while I'm not into feet, her's were delicate and seductive, and I have yet to see another woman do that flirty little flip with their shoes.

But no, I no longer need prolonged time for my apodyopsis skills.  I can get a mental image quite fast.  Now, I watch people to see their reactions.  I'm a student of body language and the non-verbal cues we all have.

I use a lot of non-verbal communication in my writing.  Fingers slowly intertwine and females play with their braids.  Men scratch their ears and sometimes rub their cheeks.

Right now I'm working on a short story I wrote several years ago.  It was a good premise with decent characters but it was lacking in something.  As I tried to edit it, I realized what it was missing--the non-verbal cues so common in my other stories.  Those little things, like taking one's shoes off and clenching your toes while sighing deeply. 

So this weekend's project of fixing the short story and adding the non-verbal elements has really made the characters more alive.  I have found that including descriptions of a person's body, just small parts, really adds depth.  The way an eye blinks, or how a person grips a pen, or a smile that spreads across their face.

I work with a woman I have come to read quite well.  She probably thinks I'm engaged in apodyopsis but that's not it--I've already seen her naked.  No, I watch her to see those little fidgets, the small tells people have when they're under stress.  Or the anticipation of an evening with somebody special.

The non-verbal vocabulary of men is boring and limited.  Men are pretty simplistic.  Woman, however, are amazingly complex.  I love watching them interact with each other, or how they motivate and command, depending upon the situation.

What has always stunned me is how women compete with each other and their little body language stances do little to hide their aggression towards each other.  They way two women speak to each other fascinates me.  The words begin but they don't look at the other person until a single word is used.

That word can be different.  When it's a noun, they usually begin eye-contact then for understanding.  When they initiate eye contact on a verb, there is hostility there, and they're making a point that has nothing to do with the conversation itself.  They might be talking about blue pens, but they're making a point about something else, too.  The way one stands in defense while another acts as if there is no opposition to them at all.  The walk says so much.

A few years ago, a woman I work with came dressed in a pair of jeans so tight they were painted on.  She walked with such a hip-sway it was as if she were a dancer.  Over and over again she walked up and down the isle like she was at some honkytonk bar and she was looking for her future baby-daddy.
I said to a friend, "She'll be knocked up in a month."

I should have taken bets because I was right.

Knowing non-verbal cues isn't always fun.  It can really suck if you happen to be attracted to a person who can't stand you.  This has happened to me a few times.

There is a running joke I have heard most of my life.  Because I'm an introverted fat guy, people like to make a joke about me being with an attractive woman, because to them the idea of a pretty woman wanting to go out with me is so absurd.  To them, it's like a monkey playing golf, or a dog riding a bike.  The pretty woman and I just don't go together and that's the joke.

"You should ask out NAME OF PRETTY GIRL."  Or, "Are you going to go out with NAME OF PRETTY GIRL this weekend?"

The joke is always said in front of the pretty woman and it's always meant to humiliate me while poking fun at her.  It has never been funny.

But the worst part is the non-verbal communications.

Some women react in exaggerated gestures, making faces and sticking out their tongues, as if the very thought of being with me on a date gave them extreme nausea.  

Other women laugh at the proposal, because somebody like me having the audacity to even ask them out is comical. 

While others freeze like deer in headlights, hoping to God I don't look in her direction, praying they don't react at all because if they give a negative reaction my feelings would be hurt.  And if my feelings were hurt, they would have to do something about it, just to make up for that emotional beating.  Or, they freeze and hope like hell I don't look over at them and see a glimmer of a smile because then I'll have the wrong idea and ask them out.

I respect the freezing.  I respect how they try not to react.  It's a behavior born out of a violent childhood where a wrong reaction meant physical attacks or worse.
Not too long ago, this joke was told to a woman on the phone, while I was standing next to her.  It was said by somebody in another office, who could see us.  I didn't need to hear the joke.  I didn't need to see him.  All I needed was to see her reactions as she tried not to look at me and told him to shut up.  It wasn't the words, either.  It was how she said it while her eyes moved towards me again and again, only to be forced to not look in my direction.  When somebody is trying not to look at another person, it can be very obvious if they happen to be talking about that very same person.  

And let me tell you, I love being rejected by a woman without even asking her out.  Love it.

Men are so much easier to deal with in those situations.  They say what's on their minds and that's it.  If not, they look down at the ground, kick a rock and that tells you they don't want to talk about it.  Simple.

One of the best male, non-verbal communications I have ever seen was Bill Murray.  He can do more with a single blink than any actor I know.  I use this often.

Watch one of his early films, like Stripes, Ghostbusters, or Meatballs.  

Somebody says something stupid, Bill Murray looks at that person and does a single, two-eyed blink.  That single blink conveys so much!

And now I've given you an excuse to watch an old Bill Murray movie, and you should thank me, because those films are some of the best ever.  Watch his non-verbal language and you'll see.

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