Friday, December 5, 2008

I don't have a poker face; may I borrow yours?

I'm not blogging right now because everything that's happening to me has to do with job interviews, and since blogs are public, I don't want any of the schools reading something that might jeopardize my chances of getting to work for them. But I think I finally found a neutral topic.

Sometimes, and on very very rare occasions at that, I allow myself to daydream about what happens next.  I pull up maps of the places I applied to and squeeze my eyes shut and try to picture myself walking Sierra on a beach or throwing snowballs at Andrew.  I imagine carrying reusable grocery bags on the subway or buying a convertible to cruise sunny highways with the top down.  But besides the ugliest of my ugly characteristics -- self-doubt -- there's one thing that always bursts that bubble: my lack of a poker face.

You see, all of the candidates who ever made it to a campus visit at Baylor or Ole Miss had great poker faces. I ate with them, drove them several hours to the airport and back, and none of them let me know if they would pick BU or UM if they were invited to do so.  Nor did anyone show unbridled enthusiasm or obvious disdain for the campus they were visiting. They masterfully held their cards close to their chests, undoubtedly because they didn't want to seem too eager so they could make negotiations later.  

But I'm not like that.  If I'm lucky enough to get a campus visit, while I might have the intention to act like a normal, intelligent, reserved human being, my true self always comes out with adrenaline.  If we pull up to a campus next to the loveliest ocean I've ever seen, my tongue will surely develop a mind of its own as it blurts out, "My GOD you must wake up every day and be ecstatic to be alive, living in a place like this!!"  Or if we walk through some classic, austere New England town and pass 4 museums, 8 art galleries, and 32 specialty food stores, even though my brain might be saying "don't do it Kacy!" my arms will detach themselves from my body and grab my guide in a feverish clutch as I babble:  "THINK of the different kinds of PEPPERS I'll bet you can buy here!"  And then, of course, it's all over.  

While other people play coy, I'm completely incapable of doing that.  Take, for example, Dr. Prickett's grad class on early British literature.  While I liked Prickett, a severe Brit who belonged at Oxford and not Baylor, sometimes reading all of Darwin's Origin of Species made my mind wander a little.  We sat at a small table trying to discuss beetles and turtles and Darwin one day and no one was talking.  No one had anything to add.  It'd been 2 hours and I felt like my brain was going to explode.  I looked down at one of the pages and saw the name "Cicero."  I leaned over to my good friend and whispered, "Do you know that Cicero in Latin means chickpea? Can you imagine? All Hail the Chickpea!"  While my friend possesses that thing called the poker face, I, as I have mentioned, do not.  While Prickett did not hear my whisper, he did see my suddenly animated face in a sea of dead ones.  "Kacy! Finally, someone has something to say about Darwin. What are you thinking?"  "No, sir," I said, turning scarlet and blotching like always.  "Don't be shy Kacy. Be confident! What you have to say is most likely insightful."  "No, sir, I am ashamed to say it isn't," I said, trying to find a way to surreptitiously start a fire or crawl under my friend's chair.  Long pause.  "Oh, come on," Prickett urged. I'd been a teacher. I knew what he was going through. 2 hours of silence were brutal.  I swallowed:  "Cicero in Latin means chickpea, Dr. Prickett."  I wasn't giggling. I'm not a class clown.  It was mortifying.  He wasn't angry; he looked utterly disappointed.

You might wonder why I didn't bluff him. I'd read the book. (I always do, as a nerd.)  I should've been able to come up with something about bird beaks or barnacles.  But I don't have a poker face and I'm LOUSY at lying.  So I just -- couldn't. Not because I'm a good person but because I don't have the knack. My face always screams the truth even as my words try to cover it up. 

So if I'm ever lucky enough to get a campus interview, the school will probably know everything it wants to and most of what it doesn't after 15 minutes of talking to me.  And if I'm wholeheartedly in love with the place I've visited, even though I don't want to do it at all, I'm most likely going to tell every person I meet.  Just think Honey when she meets Anna Scott in Notting Hill:  "Oh God this is one of those key moments in life, when it's possible you can be really, genuinely cool -- and I'm going to fail a hundred percent. I absolutely and totally and utterly adore you . . . and more importantly I genuinely believe and have believed for some time now that we can be best friends.  What do you think?"

1 comment:

Anna said...

This is one of the reasons I love you so much! One of many, of course. You might be surprised; some of the departments might enjoy the fact that someone would be excited to work there instead of acting like they weren't fussed one way or the other.