Sunday, July 18, 2010

My Sunday Feeling

The pinched nerve that caused all of the pain in my hip and thigh has subsided nicely. But the right leg is still weaker than the left one and about all the orthopedist will let me do is walk until we look at the MRI next week. So, I have been mixing in the treadmill at the gym (still way too boring even with a TV monitor) and walking outdoors. I also hit irons and wedges under the watchful eyes of a pro last week. So far so good. I haven't fallen down since the 4th of July. Progress.

I was trudging West on Kavanaugh when I heard "Hey Mister!" There was a little boy about 9 years old standing on the sidewalk beside the Brazilian restaurant. At first, I thought he was my Godson with his bleached out summer hair and tanned arms and legs. But my Godson wouldn't address me as "Mister" and upon focusing in I realized that I had never seen this kid before. He motioned for me to come over. I thought that perhaps he was lost or something. So I went over. As I got closer I noticed he was holding a book that he had evidently checked out of the Public Library called "Reading Body Language."

" What me to read your life line?" he asked.

" Do what?"

" Your life line. I could read it for you."

" No thanks."

" Wait!" he said as he flipped quickly through the book. " The way you're standing. There's a picture in the book."

In my rare dealings with young people I firmly believe that an idea is innocent until proven guilty. So I put up with this nonsense while trying to maintain a straight face.

" Here," he said. " Look. Hands on hips with arms akimbo. Means you are trying to assert authority. It also means you have issues."

The latter sentence was delivered with all of the gravity of a terminal diagnosis. I about wet my pants.

"Of course I have issues. And so do you. But I think a better explanation for my body language is that whenever a person I don't know confronts me on the street I tend to give off a very confrontational body posture. You seem to be a nice enough kid but quite frankly this is a very bizarre conversation, Son."

I shifted my weight.

" Whoa! There's a picture what you just did." Back to the book.

" When you put your hand behind your back? It means you are indecisive."

" No it doesn't. It means I needed to scratch an itch."


"Yeah, really." Freud's statement that sometimes a cigar is only a cigar came to mind but I chose to let it pass.

" Look," I said. " I'm glad that you are having fun with your book. But it takes a lot of experience and context to be able to read tells. You can't just do it out of a book for the first time and do it right."


"Law enforcement term for reading body language. Took it from poker. A person's body language is used to assess whether he is telling the truth. So they call body language 'tells.' "


" I have a friend who is an FBI agent. She told me that a tell they look for when interviewing a subject is that people who tend to gaze upward and to the right while talking tend to be lying. I do that all the time. I'm not a liar. At least I don't think I have that reputation in the community. The point I'm trying to make is that being able to read body language takes a lot of training and experience and can't be learned in a few days out of a book."

"Wait," he said as began thumbing through the book again. " Arms akimbo again. You know what that means."

So much for this being a teachable moment. He was fixated.

" I know. I have issues. See ya later buddy. Have fun with your book."

And with that I limped on back home.

I never caught the boy's name. I wondered if he stayed outside to bug folks while his parents were eating in the restaurant. More likely he lives in the neighborhood and got thrown out of his house after driving his Mother crazy with his observations about her body language. So he decided to branch out and to use the parking lot of Bossa Nova as his own personal amateur crime lab.

Which is what is so great about kids. I wonder what got him sufficiently interested in body language to make him want to check out a book on the subject? And precocious sort that he obviously was he just as obviously saw nothing remotely off-putting about sharing his insights into the subject with an absolute stranger. Good thing for him I have a highly developed sense of the absurd. That and as far as I am concerned any kid's idea is innocent until proven otherwise.

But what the hell do I know? I got issues.

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