Dirty Looks

Don't look at me in that tone of voice

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: March 11, 2005

Dirty Looks

My wife and I went to our favorite burrito place the other night and once outside we noticed some ?Homies? not from the neighborhood standing about.

I slipped into my urban soldier mode and started ?Mean Mugging? them, this caused them to walk off because I showed them a certain respect, while no fear.

Mugging is a Hip Hop term for tossing someone mean looks. If the mean looks turn sour this evolves into another term ?Mad-dogging? someone. Mugging usually takes the form of a scowl or exaggerated facial expression making it clear that you are unapproachable, and it would be a mistake to mess with you.

Social predators are often good at reading body language, they can tell who they can and cannot punk. A good rule of thumb is trying to look crazier than the person who wants to jack or intimidate you.

With the carnage of war drama simmering in the back of our thoughts, and the horror of urban drug fueled violence threatening our security, there seems to be a pall of anger and fear in the air as exaserbated by media. People are quick tempered, often hyper-defensive. As a street survivor I am no exception.

My Brother used to say, ?Don?t look at me in that tone of voice.? I realize that people from every walk of life have their own style of mean mugging people. The most traditional is the elementary school teacher who constricts their lips into a colorless circle, while frowning, after little Johnny eats a bowlful of paste, or glues someone?s head to a desk.

Cholo?s and homeboys adapt this stoic shark-like straight ahead stare while the head is tilted slightly upward. This tactic is used when they are being insulted an or being read their Miranda rights. The goal of this posture is to show no reaction or weakness. The controlled lack of emotion can successfully intimidate or catch off guard the one who can be seconds away from being dropped.

Many people use the scowl, which is an amended frown mostly with the lips. This is usually accompanied by the Clint Eastwood squint of the eyes, and can be accompanied by a slow disgusted shaking of the head. In order for this to work, the squint has to be directed unflinchingly laser-like squarely on the subject in question.

Police are trained in this tactic, they are taught not to look directly into the subjects eyes rather right above the eyebrows. This give the person being stared down the feeling that the intimidator has no fear of the individual.

The truth is the intimidator in this case has no fear of the person?s eyebrows.

Some folks are more animated and theatrical in their mean mugging and take the procedure into the realm of performance art. Skilled users, employ the opening the eyes as large as they can while tilting the head to the side technique. Multi-takers can mumble gibberish while flailing arms out to the side. Masters of this technique male and female, usually found in correctional facilities, have the ability to keep one eye open huge while keeping the other one in an Eastwood squint.

You need to run away from people who can do that.

The mean face mugging is probably a primal thing that showed predatory animals that with a face like that you probably wouldn?t taste good. Those of us, whose lineage had the ability to look inedible, coupled with the ability to out run pleasant looking folks, have kept us in the game in the 21st century.

Because of my urban upbringing I find myself para-mugging most of the time. I was taught that for man to smile of laugh too much shows weakness, and a lack of macho character. Someone who appears silly cannot be taken seriously and or given an appropriate amount of acknowledgment.

The safest thing to do in a potentially confrontational situation is to briefly look the intimidator squarely in the eyes, or use the police eyebrow technique, showing no fear yet a certain respect, then, go about your business with confidence.

We are living in a time that calls for an uncommon unity of spirit, albeit, there are many valid opinions regarding war and public policy. One thing we need to do is to be supportive of our brothers and sisters in the military, pray for a speedy end to conflict, and not to take out our frustrations on each other.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos considers himself a famous writer.

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