No Cognitive Test For Me, Please

I can sympathize with President Biden’s recent comments about cognitive tests. I believe he said something to the effect that every day is a mental...

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The Joys of Eye-rolling

Why is eye-rolling so appropriate these days? I have my theories.

For starters, it’s not a word spoken that you can’t take back. You can roll your eyes without anyone noticing; a kind of silent protest as it were. And it feels so good to make a gestural statement without fear of reprisal, especially if someone else in the room notices and returns the roll with a nod of affirmation.

Every day I find occasions that require a good old-fashioned eye roll. Just yesterday I was listening to a relative rant about other people’s shortcomings. I had called him to see how he was doing and discovered that he was in fine form when it came to putting down everyone and everybody. He was going to let so-and-so know exactly how he felt about them. They had better shape up or he was out of there.

I made a noise that sounded like a response—I’ve heard those threats before—and then rolled my eyes. He couldn’t see me, and I felt better without having to offer further comment or defend people I didn’t really care about.

Over the years, I’ve learned eye-rolling techniques from the best. There is the full eye-roll with a slight head movement to accompany it. There is the raising of eyes to the heavens. There is the roll with the slight exhalation of air to illustrate maximum disgust. There is the private eye roll that could include full-throated commentary.

My teacher, the master eye-roller who remains a good friend today, first elevated the art in the boardroom of a major corporation we both worked for. We were listening to a sycophant make a presentation to the chairman. It was memorably painful. Everyone was suffering. Only my friend had the courage to demonstrate his disdain with a major-league gesture.

“Mike,” the chairman said, stopping the presentation. “Let’s try to avoid the eye-rolling.”

The chairman’s words could have brought down the house. But no one laughed, because, inwardly, we had all been thinking that the minion was wasting our time, and we all felt a sense of admiration for someone who had dared to express our feelings.

I’ve been getting my eyes in shape for several weeks now—preparing for the upcoming presidential debate on Thursday. If that doesn’t give my techniques a workout, nothing will. I might even include a little head-shaking for good measure.

This one’s for you, Mike.

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