What People Look Like When They’re Listening


  • Resigned
  • Stoic
  • Like they have just heard a very funny joke but are too weak to laugh as the result of a vitamin deficiency
  • Beatific
  • Like their mouth is full of bees but they are trying very hard not to panic
  • Wry
  • Like their lips are being pressed together and manipulated in various directions by an invisible hand, but they don’t mind
  • Sullen
  • Like their spine is slowly growing heavier, pushing their head and torso out over their center of gravity and toward the floor
  • Like they are waiting in line at Ellis Island in the past
  • Disgusted
  • Like they have just heard a man in a suit say, “Oh, my God.”
  • Like their eyes are yawning
  • Skeptical
  • Like students who have been asked to brainstorm ideas about a topic they think is stupid
  • Resigned
  • Like their eyebrows are attempting to retreat into their hair
  • Like they have just received news so horrific they are unable to process it
  • Confused
  • Like a movie character who’s trapped in a dungeon and then looks up as the door suddenly opens and light hits them for the first time in days
  • Sad
  • Like they are passengers on the Titanic after they know something is wrong but before they know that the ship is sinking
  • Like they are trying to focus on a blurry ghost somewhere above and to the left of their line of sight
  • Regal, like a drawing of a Roman emperor on a coin
  • Grave
  • Like they are about to vote
  • Wincing, but starting to smile
  • Like they are trying not to be seen by a T. rex
  • Like they are trying to shade their eyes with their eyelids but without actually closing their eyes all the way
  • Smiling, but starting to wince
  • Like they have My Left Foot syndrome but are trying very hard to tell you something important
  • Trying to see into heaven
  • Asleep
  • Like they are enjoying a secret joke that an invisible wizard has just told them
  • Dead
  • Like they want to sneeze, but can’t
  • Disappointed
  • Like they’re at dinner with people who pray before dinner and they’re trying to just go along but also signal to anyone who might be watching that they’re not, like, praying praying
  • Like the astronauts on Apollo 13 after they start their return journey to earth but before they brace for impact
  • Like they have suddenly realized they no longer remember what the sea looks like, and they are trying, panicked, to retrieve the memory before it slips away forever

    [Image via Wikimedia Commons]

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    • Maggie T

      This is amazing. I’d like to read it out loud to someone and see what they look like as they listen.

    • insanelady

      My favourite is the invisible wizard. So many of these are gold. :’D