People talk a lot about peoples’ eyes.
It’s all about the eyes.
“His eyes twinkled.”
“Her eyes sparkled.”
These phrases stand at the ready, because they know they’ll be used.
Phrases like those are something I could never understand, because it’s something I’ve never noticed. And I’ve always wondered about phrases like that, even though I never realized I was wondering. Eyes don’t sparkle… Do they? They don’t twinkle, either. So, why the weird terminology?
Forty years into my life so far, I still don’t quite get it, but for the past two of those years, I have finally known why I don’t get it. How do you notice something, such as twinkling/sparkling eyes, when, as a general rule, you don’t look at them?
Two years in (meaning into this Asperger’s/autism discovery thing), I still don’t get it. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t try to understand. (It seems like I’m always trying to understand something–or several somethings.) After all, think of how many times we’ve heard those terms, and multiply it. That’s a lot of usage of terms like those.
Last night, I watched a true crime documentary (my recent idea of fun). The show I watched featured the case of a guy who’d been murdered by his wife. It included interviews with the victim’s sister and other family members. They talked about how, early on in his marriage, he was so happy.
“His eyes sparkled,” they said.
And then the show displayed a still photo of the guy. I looked closely, watching for any evidence of sparkling.
He was smiling genuinely, and his eyes were squinting as such, but I didn’t see what they meant by a “sparkle”, per se. He was really happy, and you could tell he was giving off an in-love vibe. His eyes did look warm and loving and friendly, but that’s all that I could see.
It’s not like eyes have glitter. Eyes don’t sparkle.
People don’t “glow”, either.
“You’re glowing,” people have said to me, at various times over the years.
Chances are, I was indeed feeling chock-full of joy. Maybe I was dippy-in-early-love, that infatuation that often comes in the early stages of a budding relationship. Or maybe I was in love and totally excited about a new kitten or two. Or maybe there was an extra spring to my step because I had just landed a much better job than the hell-hole I was in and I’d handed in my two-week notice and finally found the wings to fly.
But I don’t know if I’d call it “glowing”. I mean, I’m not a radioactive Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (damn), nor am I bioluminescent, like certain oceanic bacteria or fireflies (damn again).
I might describe my outward display what it is: a dopey smile, a vibe of hope, a newfound lease on life, a skip to my walk, a sigh of relief.
But I probably don’t glow.
One might ask: what did I do for the 38.5 years of my life during which I had no clue of my Aspie/autistic neurotype, and people used phrases like these and it left me confused?
Well, I did what I suspect a lot of us in my situation did: I failed to understand what they were talking about, didn’t get what they meant by those phrases, but nodded, took them at their word, pretended like I knew what they were talking about, and responded in such a way that satisfied them but didn’t provide an invitation to go further down that line of conversation. I remained confused afterward (what on earth do they mean? I don’t see what they’re seeing or saying), but this type of situation remained a minor enough ordeal that it didn’t bother me. The social obstacle it posed (and its personal impact to me) was–and still is–pretty minimal.
I’m not even exactly sure why I’m thinking–much less writing–about this today, other than the fact that it crossed my mind. And if it crossed mine, then I’m sure it crosses the minds of others, too.
So, to anyone who has wondered about this, too, I’ll settle the score, at least from my perspective…
You’re not missing anything. Eyes don’t actually sparkle. People don’t actually glow. Someone’s eyes might crinkle when they’re smiling, and they’ll probably display lighter body language when they’re happy or relieved or something. And yes, it’s possible for humans to perceive and/or sense those things on some level.
But if you’re like me and you simply don’t get some of the euphemisms society often uses (where do people even get these?), then rest assured, you’re not alone. You didn’t miss anything, I don’t think. You’re not failing to see something others are seeing. They don’t have magical eyesight; they’re just using silly and imprecise figures of speech.
It took me 40 years to nail that one down for myself, once and for all (grin).
In short, I’m probably taking things way too literally. I’m sort of Asperger’s/autistic-stereotypical that way. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (at all), but it does mean that I often find myself still trying to figure out how much of the rest of the world works. (Yes, still.)
So, why the weird terminology, anyway? I don’t know the answer to that one. I’ve pondered it, too, and so far, I’ve drawn a blank. Maybe it’s as simple as a subconscious need to be dramatic, on a general societal level. Maybe since the average population tends to spend more time looking into peoples’ eyes, the eyes have become a focal point, and may hold greater importance in general. Everything seems centered on the eyes. Disney artists make sure that the characters’ eyes are huge and expressive – the “ideal eye”, or so sayeth society. After all, the eyes are the windows to the soul and all that.
I’m not sure I want to know if mine sparkle. I’ll keep my window to my soul to myself. Does anybody sell proverbial eye curtains? Amazon??