You Have No Face!

Everyone tries to be normal — mostly.

Everyone wants to be odd — at least a little.

The two co-exist.

We attempt normality by hiding or disguising oddities — at least the most egregious.

Some people are more successful than others.

When oddities become too peculiar, we give them scientific names. A booking in a journal - including a professional diagnosis. We seek treatment, or worse, others seek it for us. Which may be why we try to look more normal.

My particular oddities border on the diagnosis side.

Early on, I adjusted my behavior with a proclivity to shyness, sensitivity, and a profound reluctance toward social interaction. Instead, I sank into my own imaginative world.

“What is wrong with that boy?”

“He’s just sensitive,” my mom would say.

Which sounded girlish, but hell, I liked girls. Older girls found me cute.

The problem with age, our oddities cling into adulthood — that time of life when normality becomes more important.

I haven’t named my oddity yet, have I?

Well, I have time to tell you only one. But it’s the best one.

Not how I flail when someone comes an inch too close. Not how days and numbers have colors. Not how I unwind from too many turns around.

Nor how the number 3 controls me. Nor the strange need to sing a song relevant to a word in conversation — like Monday: Monday, can’t trust that day. Nor how I brush my nose when someone stares.

We have no time for those.

They are psychological, anyway.

My best oddity is neurological.

You have no face!

Don’t take that personal — nobody does.

I do not recognize faces. If I see you on the street, I won’t know you.

That makes for the oddest world out there. A faceless population. Probably why I write SciFi and horror.

Precisely 12 facial patterns exist inside my head. Every 11th person I meet looks the same. (I keep one reserved for dogs.)

A glimpse into my world:

No one is consistent. They say something to me. Five minutes later, they do not remember. I get mad.

People are schizoid, even multiple in personality. First they are serious and demanding, then they are funny and easy-going. I get confused.

Movies make no sense. Every character is new. Movies have 10 times the characters shown in the credits. I can’t understand that.

I was a salesman. Every longtime client was someone I didn’t know. The receptionist was always the most important person to impress. So I wrote the gatekeeper’s name on a card. I greeted the greeter with, “Good morning, Debbie!” Sandra was not impressed.

A personal friend approaches in the mall. I know that gleeful look of recognition. If I ignore them, I am rude. I search for context that will not come. I am rude.

Sometimes they see the empty look on my face. “You have no idea who I am, do you?” “Maybe,” is the best that I can offer.

A new customer becomes mine. I say how much I like them. They walk away. They come back. I think I have two new customers. In reality, I have none.

My brain no longer makes the effort.

Like today.

In another foreign town, which only makes it worse, we call our hostess Sister because she is the sister of our host. We see her every day. I see her more than that. The maid shares her facial pattern.

My brother and I have this conversation.

“Isn’t that Sister?”

“Not even close.”

“She looks like Sister.”

“No, she doesn’t.”

“She does to me.”

“Only her glasses are the same.”

That is usually good enough for me. It’s how I build context.

“Sister is thinner and much smaller.”

“She is?”

“Yes, and her hair is long and pony-tailed. The maid’s is short and straight.”

“I noticed she kept changing that.”

“Sister speaks really good English. The maid, none at all.”

“I thought she was being difficult.”

“Sister is really funny and happy. The maid is stern and serious.”

“I told you, I thought she was being difficult.”

That is how many conversations end. The other party so disappointed.

You might ask me how I recognize anyone at all.

I put together clues, like a puzzle, over time. They might offend you if I say them out loud.

You could be the chubby girl who looks like Lulu with a moustache. Maybe you don’t, really. Except, of course, to me you do. Thus you become Lucy or Lucille. Not Lulu, though. That is an entirely different story.

Yeah, it’s odd. The best odd.

Joel R. Dennstedt — Author

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World Traveler/Author www.joelrdennstedt.com

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Joel R. Dennstedt

Joel R. Dennstedt

World Traveler/Author www.joelrdennstedt.com

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