Last week I was disappointed I missed the premiere of Lie to Me, but I caught the second episode last night and I’m going to be an avid watcher. Not because I’m thrilled about the characters or the plotting; it wasn’t much better than the first few episodes of Shark and similarly has a younger, weaker supporting cast orbiting a seasoned character actor. I will watch because reading body language is one of my favorite hobbies. They have a character on the show they call a ‘natural,’ as in someone who hasn’t read about what the gestures mean, they instinctively know. I haven’t cracked open a textbook on the subject either. I would say I sense the way people feel without thinking about it, and being someone acutely interested in knowing when I’m right, have spent a lifetime honing my skills at analyzing people on the outside to see if what I’m sensing matches the truth. Don’t confuse empathy with sympathy; just because I know what you’re feeling doesn’t mean I sympathize or agree with it. I’m not very sympathetic by nature and probably don’t. But I like to know and I like truth, and people lie all the time. They don’t just lie, they also reserve, more often than not they simply hold things back. Trust in actions not in words, from the grandest gesture to the smallest dart of the eye.
My friend Scott Alan is also a big proponent of body language reading for fun. We once spent a fantastic evening at a restaurant watching the table next to us and trading observations. I got the sensation of attraction and I knew it was neither coming from me or related to me; it took a look around the room to narrow it down to the interplay between our waiter and two women nearby. After I picked up on it unconsciously, it was easy enough to read the supporting signals. The waiter made more stops at their table than ours. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but one of the women’s eyes would shine when he came over, they widened, and her laugh became higher pitched and silvery. Of course the payoff was the ultimate reward for bothering to keep track of all of this; during one of the waiter’s brief absences, the young lady adjusted her neckline so it plunged and revealed her best advantages. The effect of this was like dangling a piece of fluff in front of a cat, our waiter was like a man transfixed, and there were no more drink refills for us that night.
It’s actually not that great all the time knowing exactly what people think of you. And if they way they treat you on the outside doesn’t match the telltale signs, others may think you are being paranoid, and you may even end up doubting yourself. But when it comes to reading strangers, nothing beats an afternoon at the mall making mental notes about whether or not that guy is into his girlfriend or that woman is suffering from self-confidence issues. OK so that might make the course of events during an episode of the show a little predictable for someone like me. But then again, if I didn’t enjoy predicting what someone will do next and what they’re really thinking, I wouldn’t identify with the show to begin with.