I've been noticing lately that I have a hard time looking people in the eye when I'm in public. Now I'm no shrinking violet, and I definitely know how to use good eye contact to my advantage. But when I pass someone walking in the store, I tend to look away or avert my eyes. Weird, right?
When you're overweight you get used to being invisible, and you don't challenge the invisibility cloak of fat by looking strangers in the eye. You may see disgust or judgement of you in their eyes, so you just don't look at them. It's a non-verbal way of trying to "shrink" into yourself so that no one notices you. After all, you don't deserve their notice, and you definitely don't want to seek it.
This evening I went for a walk at the mall that's on my way home from work and I actually looked at people. Lots of people smiled, some didn't react at all, and some looked away quickly (the way I usually do, lowering my eyes). What I found was that it is super difficult for me, and really requires me to stretch myself.
So, as I'm out practicing my skills, I decided to go into the Apple store to ask how difficult it would be to switch from a Palm OS to an iPhone, since I'm an Apple-lover (but don't really know what I'm doing). That, and it is the Apple store where the dude who bought a new iPad was walking out when someone tried to rip it from his hand and took the man's finger along with it. So it was educational, and trash entertainment at the same time.
Of course the store was filled with lots of cute boys. Well I think they're cute, but I love me some geeky boys. So I went up to the cute greeter-boy (which is a younger and geekier version of the greeters at Wall-Mart) to ask him the questions. This is when I don't really have a problem with eye contact--when I have a reason to talk to someone instead of just passing them by--so I gave my good eye contact and my "you're speaking above my head about technology" head-nodding. And he was cute, with a capital "q."
After he finished speaking with the mumbo-jumbo, he started apologizing for being distracted while talking to me, because he had to make sure no one else came through the doors that needed to be greeted. I told him, "no problem." And then we had the 1.5 minutes of "oh good, thanks" and "sure" and "have a good night" and "you too" and "have a good weekend" etc., etc. And I smiled at him, with my excellent eye contact.
And then it went horribly wrong. That's right, I winked.
Apparently, I'm one of those people. I might as well have whipped out my finger guns, waved them in the air, and then blew on my fingertip barrels. Oh dear. I must have then turned very red and then I quickly left. He was still exchanging token pleasantries to my retreating back--"enjoy the rest of your weekend!" as I hauled my embarrassed butt out of the store.
Oh dear. I had a nice chuckle at my own expense all the way back to my car. Making eye contact all the way.