"The Look"

Lauren Bacall at 20, you really don't need any more than that. Soft, shy, sensuous, a voice like wild honey with a spoonful of Scotch... The Look was shadows and lighting as well. The look started in "To Have and Have Not", and continued full force in "The Big Sleep". "You know how to whistle, don't you... Just put your lips together and blow..." in film-noir lighting, deep shadows and contrasts sharp and crisp. This worked so well in black-and-white, it really is an artistic violation to "enhance" by colorizing...

I guess some people have it and some people don’t….

I’m not talking about “the look” in a fashion sense either. I’m talking about when things get serious.

Chances are it came from somebody in your family, most likely, your mom or your dad. Maybe it came from a teacher you had when you were growing up or now, maybe that you’re a little older, it can come from the guy sitting across from you at the bar when you’re a little too drunk and are getting a case of courage brought on by the over consumption of your favorite beverage.

My dad had it, in spades. That guy could’ve melted a glacier with his eyeballs. There were no words needed. All it took was sidelong glance in my direction, his eyes squinting, his lips pursed and I would freeze in my tracks like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming semi. The silent alarm that went off in my head when I got “the look” was enough to let me know that danger was on the horizon and I should immediately cease and desist whatever I was doing or there was going to be some hell to pay. It was like a ship, caught in a thick fog, blasting its horn, letting me know that he was there, watching my every move. It didn’t matter if what I was doing was right or wrong and could rear it’s head on the drop of a dime..

I think I inherited part of “the look” from my dad. My kid gets it every so often when she’s acting up and there are still some people I can freeze with it when the reason occasions. Mostly though, they're drunks and teenagers.

I think my “look” is a little different though. Instead of the cold steely stare my father was so good at, behind my eyes there lies a certain sadness and kindness. It’s a “look” that I hope asks the question of “Why would you?” rather than “How could you?”. It’s mostly delivered with a smile and a nod but the method of delivery doesn’t diminish the message I’m trying to get across. I dread the day that my own child becomes afraid of me because that means that I’ve somehow failed and that I’ve learned nothing. I don’t think anybody wants to aspire to that.

These days, the pillow somehow seems a little softer, the dreams somehow a little sweeter and “the look” somehow a little more meaningful.

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