The Look

by Andy Wood on February 17, 2010

in Ability, Life Currency

Often imitated, never duplicated. 

It could alter traffic, change work schedules, and send us into bone-chilled terror.  When we weren’t busting out laughing.

I’m talking about “The Look.”

Mama copped to it – even called it “The JoAnne Look.”

My most recent encounter with it came last October when we were sitting in the lobby of Providence Hospital waiting for my dad to get a test.  Secluded in a waiting area, we could hear somebody on the other side setting up some sort of display by dragging eight-foot tables with an annoying racket.  Especially annoying if you had a bad headache, as Mama did.

I could see it coming.

Those poor people had no idea.

Dear God, here comes The Look.

In particularly dramatic fashion, Mama stood up, pranced around the corner, slammed her hands on her hips and let it fly.

How do I describe this?  Narrowed eyes, lower brows, razor glare, tight lips… I’m breaking into a sweat just thinking about it.

I don’t know what the two-woman(!) display team did to finish setting up.  But nobody did any more table dragging.  For all I know, they just decided to use the floor.

Mama would describe giving somebody The Look like a vet would describe putting down a bull or a cop would describe apprehending a suspect using a taser.  Typical:

“I got tired of them mouthing off and I just gave them the JoAnne look.”

The uninitiated may not see the point.  They obviously never were on the receiving end of The Look.

As nuclear-feeling as The Look was, it wasn’t 100% effective or 100% accurate.  Once when we were kids, we were all getting frustrated by road construction in Montgomery and this one guy who was a p-a-i-n to get behind.  He’d drag along, but wouldn’t let anybody (namely us) get by.  Finally, after 30 desperate minutes, Mama found her opening and took it.  Have you been around enough to remember those rim-type car horns?  We had one, and Mama literally bent it as she leaned on it and flashed The Look.  Mr. Underachieving Slowpoke just leaned out his window and waved.

And then a few months ago, she was waiting and waiting and waiting in the cell phone store for somebody to help her.  Getting more and more frustrated, she eyed this lady who, despite the fact that she’d been there for so long, refused to help her.  Out came The Look.

Turns out the lady was a customer.

I know Mama’s in Heaven.  I’m not so sure The Look made it.  But it lives on here in our hearts.  And the hospital.  And the phone store.  On roads throughout the South.  And wherever else people need a good sweat… or a good laugh.

(As most married men know, The Look wasn’t unique to my mother.  In the greatest Home Improvement episode ever, Tim and the guys give a hilarious explanation of The Look to a guy who’s yet to experience it.)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Chaffin February 17, 2010 at 5:50 am

Comedian Mark Lowry imitates his mama’s look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE7WX6kXg2g

Robin February 17, 2010 at 9:52 am

I remember the first time I encountered “The Look” from your mom. It was after the girls were born, we were in a restuarant and the babies would not be quite. I had done everything I could to make them shut up. She stood up, turned her head around and there it was. OH MY GOSH!!! I was mortified. I could not believe her. She was so mad at me. It scared me to death. The babies (thank you Cassie and Carrie) and I went to the car and didn’t get to finish supper. I will miss that look too.

Never thought I would say that.

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