Face People, you know who they are. They’re the restaurant manager who comes over to tell you they’d be happy to replace the bloody rare ahi with another dish, but that’s the way the chef “recommends” it. They’re the hourly employee in relaxed fit jeans who greets you at The Gap with a “How’s it going?”, the guy who directs you to the back of the store when you ask an actual question like, “Do you have this shirt in a medium?” They’re the cashier at Whole Foods who, without looking away from her screen, asks “Did you find everything okay?” even though she really doesn’t give a shit if you did. She’s not paid enough. She just wants to get out of there to comb Tumblr and Buzzfeed from the dim light of her parents’ basement.
I am not a Face Person. If I were an actress, I’d take only character roles. I’d be the Wicked Witch, not Glinda, Bellatrix, not Hermione. In politics, I’d be Rahm Emanuel, not Obama; Hillary, not Bill (more on that another time). I’m the passionate doer with no time for public relations. I like the dirty work. In my teens and twenties, I slummed at face jobs. There was the summer I worked at the front desk of a big convention hotel, serving champagne to dilute the anger of customers waiting in long check-in lines. I interned for a screaming Hollywood producer. I was even a temp at the Disney legal department, the ultimate face job.
But even back then, Lizzie was inside me somewhere, screaming and flailing her arms, urging me to tell people what she really thought. Lizzie is my id, known well to close friends and family but unfamiliar to casual acquaintances. For convenience, I leave her at home when I go out into the world. Lizzie is the one who asks the poor guy at the Gap if he can turn down the blaring pop music long enough to answer a real question: Does he know that fast beat increases people’s heart rate, subliminally urging them to buy more? And does he care that everything there was made in a sweatshop? Answer: not for twelve bucks an hour, he doesn’t.
As my forties wane and this go-round on earth nears its halfway mark, I’ve been letting Lizzie out with more frequency. For one, I like her. And she’s nicer to me when I take her for regular walks in the fresh air. I no longer treat her like my weird distant cousin because I realize that she is my identical twin – same DNA, same upbringing, just different sides of the same coin. I’m a little more diplomatic, a little more polished, but neither of us are Face People. I confess that sometimes, I feel a twinge of jealousy for the people in the face jobs. It would nice to be revered. But if I were caught up in my own Face-ness, who would see past the glossy veneer to the ugly truth of situations? Who would pierce the veil of complacency and actually do something? Lizzie and I, we’re a good team.