It was impossible not to observe, though they were speaking so softly not much could be overheard. Still, it was obvious what was happening. The way she sat nervously waiting for him to arrive. The smile he had for her until she moved her face and his lips grazed her cheek. The way she leaned as far away from him as her chair would allow. It was all impossible to ignore.
Oh, I thought, how sad. I couldn't seem to tear my eyes away and, just as I am sure the girl was doing, I wondered how and when it would end. Eventually the boy got up, gave her a brief hug and trudged out the door. After he'd left she immediately called her friend to come pick her up.... and this part I could hear clearly... the nervous laughter as she said, "Just come get me quick. I told him."
But, the fact is, whatever she had told him really didn't matter.... in fact, I realized they didn't even need to exchange words.... body language and facial expression had said it more eloquently than she ever could have; especially given her age. The teenagers I know have a fairly limited vocabulary!
For most of us body language is so subconcious that it is a dead give-away of what we are really thinking. I have found a bunch of great articles on the importance of body language during Presidential debates:
And this was a small sampling of the many links that came up when I googled "presidential debates and body language". What I found most interesting in all this media was the high profile job of the body language experts. What do they major in for that career? And can you imagine what they deal with at social engagements? I'm neurotic enough at a party without wondering what someone is learning through my body language (probably that I'm neurotic!)
On the other hand.... how powerful as a writer to have those tools in my toolbox. Tightened lips, I learned, can be an indicator of negative emotion. Swining your hand in front of you so that the other hand can play with a watch or cuff is s sign of insecurity.
In Betting Jessica there is a part where the father spills the beans about Erik's plans to join the group on their trip to Tahoe to track down the celebrity:
“Oh no! He wouldn’t go, would he Dad? Dad, why would you think Erik is going? He’s not going is he?” Now she was the one who was panicked.
“Uh, gosh,” her dad said with an overly large laugh. “Oh look, our coffee is ready.”
Her dad grabbed his coffee and started walking to the door, ready to escape. One look at Jess’s face, though, slowed him.
What do you want to bet that, if I'd known then what I know now, Jessica's father would have been playing with the heat sleave on his coffee cup?
So, I am excited for this new area of study. Not only will it hopefully improve my writing, but if I ever see my hubby rub his nose I'll know to dig a little deeper. And, of course, I'll council my daughter.... when her boyfriend waits at Starbucks like a bullfighter waiting for his turn in the ring that it is time to lean back, rather than in.