Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Soy Cansado, Pero No Estoy Cansado

“Today is my birthday.” Really, it is, but I’m putting the sentence in quotation marks in order to call attention to the magic powers this chunk on syntax endows the person who speaks it. On so many other people’s birthdays, I’ve heard this sentence excuse some otherwise unforgivable behavior. Insistence on spending time at a terrible bar, for example. Or the purchasing of extravagant self-gifts. Or not coming to work regardless of the onus it places on non-birthdaypeople coworkers. (Ha ha. “Onus.”)

Today, June 4, the day on which I and Horatio Sanz get to be special, however, I’m only asking for allowance to do one thing, which I imagine should not inconvenience the other 1/365th of the world too much: I’d like to respond to the people who feel the need to tell me I look tired.

As a rule, I look like I haven’t slept. Even when I have slept, I have eye bags — twin, crescent-shaped slight puffs of the skin that exhibit slightly more coloration than the rest of my face. They don’t go away. I credit my mother’s DNA. because she has had them as well. No amount of sun or sleep or mental peace seems to change that I just happen to naturally have a facial feature that most people associate with not having slept well. If I wear my glasses, I’m wearing my glasses atop eye bags. If I don my classiest duds, I’m sporting them and eye bags. They’re a fact of life for me, and, more or less, I’ve made my peace with them.

The rest of the world hasn’t.

Regularly, people I encounter — people I like, people I don’t, neighbors, friends, bosses, coworkers, interns, the cashier at the drug store, the guy I’m interviewing for a story, old roommates I haven’t seen in years, just to name a few — feel the need to tell me that they think I look tired. I do not consider such statements to be acts of benevolence. If I were tired, I would already know and therefore don’t appreciate being reminded that it’s obvious. (Sometimes, this is the case, as I do have trouble sleeping. I also spend most work days in front of a computer and beneath fluorescent lights, and that doesn’t exactly leave me looking especially enlivened, even though I like my job.) If I’m not tired, it’s all the worse. I tend to interpret “You look tired” as “You look like shit,” and that dampens my mood fairly quickly. It also puts me in the awkward situation of either lying (“Well, yes, I have in fact not slept in three days. Must be the meth.”) or correcting them and consequently seeming defensive about the matter. Except for two possible scenarios, no good can come from telling me I look tired. (Situation one: You happen to have a bed I can crawl into and it’s somehow socially acceptable for me to nod off for a few hours. Situation two: I’m about to do something for which alertness is a must, such as driving to Oregon or appearing on live television. If it’s the latter, fire that goddamned make-up girl.) No, I honestly believe that whether people do it consciously or not, the proclamation that another person appears tired constitutes a passive attempt for the proclaimer to seem somehow better able, better prepared or just generally better. (“You look tired. But I don’t. Isn’t that wild? Why do you suppose that is?”) In fact, there’s only one person in the world who I allow to tell me I look tired with impunity: my mother. She likes to keep tabs on my health. Her inquiries about my appearance — weight loss or gain, muscle tone or lack thereof, paleness, tanness, skin clarity, hair vigor, redness of the eyes — comes from a genuine place of concern.

The rest of you, however, are not my mother and I am suspicious of your motives.

I have, however, attempted to solve the matter. Long ago, I began a word file in which I list the responses to “You look tired” that I think but do not speak. Because I’m nice. I honestly don’t remember to whom most of these were originally directed, but I clearly meant what I wrote at the time.

Below, I have listed what I consider some of the pithier responses to “You look tired.” I am not identifying any potential targets. That would be rude. And I’m also not saying that everybody I know does this. Some of you are classy as all hell and either don’t make such judgments or have the sense to keep it to yourselves.

Read at your own risk.
  • You look like some kind of weasel.
  • You look tired of life.
  • You look like you just ate something that’s not sitting well.
  • You look like you’re hiding a secret, and, based on what you freely tell people who don’t even know you that well, I shudder to think at what you keep to yourself.
  • You look like you used to play rugby, with guys bigger than you, and also you weren’t very good.
  • You look like you just got bad news that wasn’t exactly unexpected.
  • You look racially ambiguous, and I was secretly disappointed when I found out you were just white.
  • You look like a photo in your own parent’s yearbook.
  • You look like you want attention.
  • You look like you want attention and you don’t care what kind of attention it is.
  • You look like you couldn’t possibly be the offspring of your parents, which is pretty puzzling because you said you didn’t know anybody who was adopted the one time I tried to bring it up.
  • You look like you’re made of butterscotch pudding.
  • You look worried. Should you be?
  • You look like Bert from Sesame Street.
  • You look like you’re going to punch someone in the back of the head today.
  • You look like your own purse, weirdly.
  • You look like a weird male version of your sister, and that makes me feel weird every time I think about it.
  • You look like you started to swallow something, got bored, and then let it sit in your throat for the rest of your life.
  • You look slightly irritated every time I ask you to do something, and that’s why I never ask you to do anything that I think you’d be interested in.
  • You look like your wife dresses you, and also your wife wants to you to be gay.
  • You look like you sweat when you eat.
  • You look like a pile of leaves.
  • You look like an extra from a movie that takes place in the 70s.
  • You look like you don’t take vitamins.
  • You look like you’re secretly trying to stay a teenager.
  • You look like you didn’t get your money’s worth with that nose job.
  • You look like you had a drink before you came into work this morning.
  • You look like you didn’t evenly distribute the gel you used in your hair, and, consequently, your hair looks to be bi-colored.
  • You look like you have extra skin.
  • You look like those breakfast plates that have fried eggs as eyes and bacon as a smile.
  • You look triangular, in so many different ways.
  • You look like you don’t like your job very much.
  • You look like a potato.
Don’t worry. The 26-year-old me has no plans to start responding to “You look tired” with anything like the above statements. (And yes, the opportunity will surely arise.) So this year is safe. But who’s to say what 27-year-old Drew will be capable of?

Sorry if this seems like an excessively mean-spirited post to slap online on my birthday, but please understand that I’ve needed to get this off my chest for some time now, and the first day of a new year of existence on this planet seemed as good a time as any. By the time you read this, I’ll likely be on a plane to Philadelphia, where I’m spending my birthday this year because I’m attending a conference there. If the plane crashes, let me apologize up front that this will be your lingering memory of me. Sorry. At the same time, I want to encourage you to enjoy the 26th year of my life as much as I plan to. Perhaps a good way of beginning this celebration would be to avoid telling me that I look tired the next time you see me. After all, at the soonest, that would be immediately after I get off the plane back to Santa Barbara. What the hell am I supposed to do about jetlag?

And if you see Horatio Sanz today, be sure to wish him a happy birthday as well.


  1. Happy Birthday! I promise I'm not thinking "I'm tired of this post!" I'm also not thinking, "He made an onus joke! And you should never put the onus on your co-workers."

  2. Happy Birthday! :) You look refreshed and awake!

  3. Happy Birthday! This is congratulations #2. Please note how succinct and free of sniffles it is, quite unlike the message I just left on your voice mail. Although in no way do I retract my voice-mail wish that you be showered in hot dogs and pie and money. If ever a man deserved a hot dog shower, it's you.


  4. I was the Bert one, wasn't I? Asshole.

  5. Sanam: I'm not saying you were and I'm not saying you weren't. Also, when is the last time you commented on my blog? Is this what I must do to get your attention? Make you think you've been insulted.

  6. go old drew go! also, you look great today, as in

  7. fucking hilarious. I laughed so hard at your responses that I had an asthma attack. and now I'm dead.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. i'm reposting this under my ACTUAL blog...
    Aaron said something last night that I thought would've fit this list perfectly-
    "You look like you've been filmed in the wrong aspect ratio."

  10. I was wondering who "Largest Mixer" was.

  11. Amazing blog man, v funny (:

    "You look like you started to swallow something, got bored, and then let it sit in your throat for the rest of your life."


    was doing spanish coursework and found you :D Ta mate! And you're american too :o Coolio...

    Much love

  12. Anonymous: Thanks for the compliment. From where do you hail that "Coolio" is a synonym for "cool"?