A N.Y. Times Cultural Studies article about “resting bitch faces,” written by Jessica Bennett and dated 8.1, caught my attention yesterday. Otherwise known as RBF, the Facebook-shared term refers to that expression we all get when we’re not turning on the charm for friends or a camera, when we’re bored or driving or vaguely pissed about something. Kind of a blank frowny face. Bennett says that the label has apparently caused some consternation among women who don’t want to be perceived as being any kind of pouty pisshead because guys will be turned off. Or something like that.

The piece hit home because I was told the same thing once by a former girlfriend (“Why are you always frowning?) and I’ve never forgotten it. That old saying that “the face you have at 40 is your own” began to haunt me. And then in the late ’80s I began to notice that my mouth had developed downturned corners. I decided then and there that I didn’t want to have a resting bastard fuckface and I’ve been working against my “permafrown” ever since.

I consciously try to half-smile at all times when I’m walking around, and I try to concentrate on alpha waves and positive thoughts and…you know, funny things I’ve written about and the Baghavad Gita and stuff like that. I try and exude a certain cosmic serenity and I never step on cracks in the sidewalk. God help me but I don’t want to look like Hillary Clinton…you know, that hangdog, crabby-faced thing. I want to look relatively happy and at peace with life or at least semi-content.

Then I got depressed again when LexG wrote about seeing me at a screening and observing that “he looks like he writes.” That bummed me out for a solid week or two. That’s one of the reasons I stopped drinking three and 1/3 years ago. But I’m still terrified of my RBF, and I will do whatever I can to not let it define me.