Reading Faces

I have noticed a tendency of expats in Taiwan, myself included, to believe that they can read the faces of locals with a high degree of accuracy. I wonder if anyone else has noticed this.

Here are a couple of examples from recent posts to show you what I mean.

[quote]Big Babou:

But, it quickly changed from one of those “ooooh, waiguoren…” smiles, to one a wry “mate, I know you know you’ve just farked up, and I know you know I can’t speak any bloody English, but if I catch you out then you’re buggered” kind of smiles.[/quote]


Unfortunately, all I tend to get in response is a “What the f… are you gorping at, foreigner. You’re not one of us, so toddle along and don’t go dreaming we’d let you try to get pally with us” kind of look.[/quote]

Is it possible to read a face so accurately? Or are these just examples of a story-telling device?

I believe there is something to this ability to identify complex thoughts from looking at someone’s face, but that most of us are basing our interpretations on our own experience, and less on the experience of the person whose face we are reading.

Here is an example of an alternative reading (from someone who didn’t see the face, no less) of the betel nut girl mentioned by Omni.


Actually, these girls want to meet foreginers, they like foreigners, THEY are the ones who feel dorky and scared. It’s the other way around, but you perceive it wrong. [/quote]

What do you think? Are we accurately reading the faces of those around us, or are we missing the point?

As a teacher, I pride myself on being able to read faces, but only in a limited sense. Faces/looks that I have identified include the “What the hell is he talking about?” face, the “You are a terrible teacher” face, the “My partner is a complete moron, please tell us to change partners” face, the “I need to change my pad” face, and the “You stink like a goat, but I am too polite to pull away and cover my nose” face.

From another perspective, I have also had students read my face. A few years ago I learned from a student survey that I could “murder with my eyes.” Several months ago I had the fortune to meet one member of a local face reading clan of some repute. She (of course) informed me that the wrinkle across the bridge of my nose told her I didn’t have long on this planet. I tried to explain that the wrinkle came from me squinting in bright sun, but she wouldn’t have any of it.

I’m reminded of pre-pedo Pete Townshend’s Face Dances,

I watch you sit and twitching
With a match between your teeth
You seem to have a knack of moving it
It’s in time to the beat

I can only stare
You make me feel
Like I don’t care

Your eyes explain a story
That never had a start
Your brow reveals the glory
That’s hidden in your heart

Your skin is fine china
White as winter snows
Your lips are always shining
Turning up your nose

Face dances tonight
Fate chances moonlight

You missed the “I’m going to have a great time swimming at Tonghu but I’m not going to call you first” face. :wink:

You post reminds me of a famous photo I saw (can’t find a link, sorry) taken in the seventies by a western photojournalist in Taiwan. It shows a really scummy low-life-type politician who has just been confronted about his excessive graft and is rushing out of a meeting. He’s caught the cameraman’s eye and is giving him a big cheesy “If I ever get the chance to fuck you up really badly for taking that shot I’m gonna grab it with both hands you fucking bastard” smile.
They don’t call the Orient inscrutable for nothing.

As for the binglang girls, I don’t think I’ve ever seen hate, fear, embarrassment or anything else in their faces other than acute boredom. Reminds me of the Derek and Clive “What’s the worst job you’ve ever had” sketch.

The answer, for anyone who’s interested: “Picking lobsters out of Jayne Mansfield’s arsehole.”