Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Red in the Face

How many times have you seen someone blush?  I mean really blush out of embarrassment or uneasiness? 

The reason I ask is because in the last few years I’ve noticed a trend in most of the published works I read. 

Everyone blushes. 

‘Cheeks go pink’, ‘face grows warm’, ‘heat rises’, ‘turns crimson’,  ‘shamefaced’, ‘red ears’…blushing. 

Which, honestly, I find kind of odd.  I mean, you can sort of expect it in period books- especially regency romance where everyone is blushing at the drop of a hat.

But when a modern-day headstrong, sarcastic, confident hero/heroine blushes about something stupid, it makes you wonder doesn’t it?  Just how and when blushing is necessary or appropriate? 

I’ve seen kids blush when they’re the center of attention and don’t like it.  I’ve seen teens blush if being ridiculed in front of someone they have a crush on or admire.

And…

I hate to admit this, but I am a total blusher.  Which in my opinion is kind of weird and totally unfair. 

I’m a pretty confident person.  I don’t mind being the center of attention…that’s never made me blush.  Crushes never made me blush.  Nor any kind of sexual innuendo (pfft)

I’m more of a ‘one on one’ blusher.   I usually blush when talking to one person, in most cases a perfect stranger. 

You see, I suffer from this thing called ‘Foot in Mouth Disease’, which I apparently inherited from my mother.   It’s like my mouth goes on auto-pilot and my brain is just one step behind - -much too late to save me from saying some of the stupidest things on the planet.  And in front of strangers, no less.

(*side note- This explains why I still haven’t mastered the feminine and masculine in French and probably never will.  My mouth simply does not have time to stop and think about the sexual connotation of an inanimate object.)

So what happens?  The stupid thing slips out.  But I could totally make a recovery- turn it into a joke, or just change the subject- making the person in front of me forget about my momentarily breech of etiquette, humor, morals, esteem or whatever else I’ve lost in their eyes in that mere second.  But alas, I get that slight twinge in my gut and I know its coming.

The tops of my cheeks go first.  Just a little warmth.  And then I think ‘Oh shit, I’m blushing.  I’m blushing. I’m blushing. I’m blushing. I’m blushing. I’m blushing. I’m blushing. Oh no, their gonna see it.  They can tell I’m getting redder. Nooooooo!!’

It really is like a snowball effect.  I blush harder because I know I’m blushing.  It’s a vicious cycle.  And before you know it, my face isn’t just red, it’s, like throbbing.  A red glowing beacon. 

And in the meantime, here I am, just trying to hold onto the conversation while perspiration starts to form on my upper lip, my face pumps with the rhythm of my heartbeat and the person in front of me is cocking their head to the side, probably wondering how I’ve achieved the unique blood red pigment and if my ears really are turning purple.

Does this happen to anyone else?  Cause from where I’m standing, the only people it happens to live in the literary world…. How many people have you really seen blush in your life and what was the situation that brought it on? 

48 comments:

Anne Gallagher said...

Oh good Lord, I blush all the time. ALL THE TIME. I guess I must be secretly embarrassed or something.

Holly Dodson said...

I blush all the time. My sister blushes all the time. My intern blushes all the time. My co-worker does too. Seems to be pretty common around these parts. lol

Emily White said...

Oh, I blush ALL THE TIME! My husband's a big-time blusher too.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I started blushing during my crit with Elaine Hopkins at the LA SCBWI this year. I knew I sounded like a complete idiot, and I could feel the blush deepen. Of course, she didn't realize I was embarrassed. She thought I was mad at her because of the crit, which is really funny because I was excited and asking tons of questions. I guess she's just used to writers getting angry at her. In the end, she realized I really do love to do revisions (I was heavy into them at the time) and that I loved her idea to rewrite my novel in present tense. :)

Jessica Bell said...

I think I can count the amount of time I've blushed in my lifetime on one hand. It only happens in REALLY embarrassing moments.

Hmm, sounds like blushing is becoming the new eye roll!

Laura Marcella said...

I blush ALL THE TIME. When I'm embarrassed or ashamed and even when I'm not feeling embarrassed. I don't get it. I even blush for other people, like while watching an award speech or when someone does something awkward in a social setting. Empathetic blushing, I suppose.

Oh, well!

Saumya said...

I'm too brown to blush :( but your characters must be so vivid if you describe their reactions often!

Samantha Vérant said...

I, too, share your disease, now in two languages. Unfortunately every time I put my foot in my mouth, I've said something with a sexual connotation prior to that!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I'm a huge blusher. My friends sometimes even say things to me to get me to blush. lol.

Laura Maylene said...

I'm a blusher too. The worst is when I'm talking to someone, for some reason get embarrassed, and they say, "Look, you're blushing!" That only makes me blush harder, of course.

When I was younger and had to do any kind of public speaking, I'd turn bright, bright red. I had no problem presenting or speaking, I just turned into a tomato. Damn it.

I'm not a big fan of seeing characters "blush" in fiction, though. Often I feel it's a device used by the writer when he/she isn't sure how else to describe the character, or as a quick, expected beat in dialogue.

Pepe Le Pew said...

Rarely blush from embarressment. It's more from anger.

Cherie Reich said...

I have to say I don't notice blushing too much around me, but I do have a tendency to blush, especially if I'm suddenly the center of attention for some reason or another. I suppose I'm just shy in large groups, so I feel embarrassed and out of place. I can't help it. I really try not to, but it happens. Oh, well. Maybe we writers put it in because we tend to blush a lot ourselves and think everyone does it.

DL Hammons said...

I don't think I'm much of a blusher, but then again I avoid situations where I might be caused to blush like the plague!!! And when I meet someone for the first time I end up sounding like a stuttering idiot. My tongue stumbles over everything...thus I don't say much in social gatherings. I would take blushing over stuttering anyday!

Laura Pauling said...

People def. blush. And I think it depends on their ethnicity too. Fair skinned people tend to blush more easily.


And le or la - does it really matter? :)

Carolyn Abiad said...

Foot-in-the-mouth is a common side effect of multi-nationalism :D I suffer BIG time. I could go on about the one I did just yesterday, but it would make me blush...

And I totally agree with the le/la nonsense! When I get stuck, I use my sister-in-law's trick, "le truc" (the thing). She also wisely uses "octant" instead of adding her twenties. ;)

And yay for posting the blog to Facebook! I get here much quicker.

Vicki Rocho said...

I hardly blush at all anymore. Maybe if you catch me off guard and I have to stand up in front of a crowd and talk about something I know nothing about...

I think a lot of it has to do with your hair/skin tones. I think blondes/red heads probably blush the easiest just because their skin tends to be so fair and it's easier to spot.

Trying to avoid foot-in-mouth whenever possible. Means I don't speak a great deal. LOL

salarsenッ said...

Feminine and Masculine in French...um, yeah. I'm French and still get annoyed with that.

Honestly, I'm not sure if I blush. Oh wait, yeah I do, but not often. Two of my kids, though, are major blushers. I think it's a sign of their shyness yet they're really not shy. Make sense??? So maybe these characters have underlining issues which 'said blushing' points to.

Melody said...

I can count on one hand the number of times I've blushed, so I know it's not as many as contained in one YA book. The last (and most memorable) time was when the mother of the guy I secretly like (surrounded by her agreeing friends) said I should marry her son. First time in a long time that I've actually been aware that I was blushing. :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

I blush sometimes, then again I always wear my emotions on my face. It's definitely an open book.

Elena Solodow said...

I have never blushed. Ever. But usually see people blush when they've unexpectedly become the center of attention.

I have noticed that in books a lot tho.

Terry Towery said...

It would have to be something pretty spectacular to get me to blush.

But your post has me wanting to go back through my ms to see if there's any "over-blushing." I really only remember one instance, a 16-year-old girl who blushes when confronted with her crush. It's not out of character for her.

The sighing and the eye rolling? That's a whole other problem for me. :)

randine said...

It's true you don't see many people blush any more.

The only person I ever see blush is my sister in law. She suffers from the same disease you do, foot in the mouth disease.
I remember once, at a family function, a relative was talking to her and told her that her baby was cute. "Thanks," she said. "I made him myself."
And then she realized that this particular person she was talking to had gone through all this infertility treatment, and eventually adopted from out of country.
Her face went totally red.

Summer Ross said...

I make m y ten year old girl blush by talking about boys, she gigles when she is nervous, she is fine one on one, but when more people are involved even if it isn't true statements she will turn red in a heart beat. Me I blush one on one usually with someone I like like my Manly man.

Nicole L Rivera said...

I have not seen very many people blush, but if I carried around a mirror I'd probably see me blush on a daily basis. I'm such a blusher. In high school my friends would say or do something just to make me blush then point at me and say (out loud in front of the whole class) "Look she's getting redder!" Well, duh I'm getting redder you are making an idiot out of me in front of my hormonal, judgmental peers!
Anyway, I know how you feel. I also think that if a character blushes it better be true to that character or the reader will see right through it.
Great post :)

Candyland said...

My BFF Emily blushes when we talk about love connections we think she had with dudes. You and my husband suffer from the same foot in mouth disease.

Rachel said...

Haaaaaa Haaaaaa LOL Haaaaaaa!!!!****Good Lord****

***Ouch, my ribs just cracked.


As a black person, i am a complete stranger to the world of blushing. Though, i use it in my stories. All i suffer from are nervous sweats.

Very funny post.

Meredith said...

I luckily don't get read, but I do start getting warm whenever I've said something without thinking! And I'm not usually that successful in joking it off afterward, unfortunately :)

Elana Johnson said...

I'm so in love with this post. Blushing is right up there with shrugging in my opinion. How many people shrug all the freaking time?? I mean, seriously. I don't think I ever shrug.

Blushing is the same.

Nicole MacDonald said...

LOL Oh I blush all the time, my friends think it's hilarious. I'm very confident etc but blushing is just part of who I am I guess *grin* so my characters blush, because I do!

The Arrival, book one of the BirthRight Trilogy, on Amazon 1.1.2011
www.damselinadirtydress.com

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm not a blusher. (Neither is anyone in my book.)
I have another way of describing the brain on auto pilot - failure to use your little man. Everyone has a little man that sits in your mouth and when something inappropriate it about to spill forth, the little man shuts the door. (And I think it takes a few years for him to become proficient.)

Old Kitty said...

Awwwwww!!!!! You sound so adorable! Sorry but you do!!! Big hugs from me!!

I am a total blusher PLUS accompanied by heat flushes and sweating. I blush and get all hot and bothered at every little mistake I do and I do alot of these tiny slip-ups!! I blush and pour sweat!! I can't help it!!

And I know of one other blusher like me. She just turned beetroot everytime she spoke. She was very sweet though!!

Take care
x

Kate said...

I reackon the most spectacular blush I've ever seen was one of the blokes at work when 12 red roses were delivered to his desk one valentines day ;-)

(Not from me I hasten to add)

Hannah Mariska said...

oh i totally blush. and just the way you describe it - once i know i've started blushing, it just gets worse!

i think the word blush is too nice a word for the way my face reddens! if i have to speak in front of people, if someone says something mean...thank god for makeup!

Ricky Bush said...

Dang! I started blushing while reading these posts. Doesn't take much of anything to get me to blush. I hated getting called out in school to answer a question because I ALWAYS blushed. Then, like Laura Maylene mentioned, someone would draw attention to my blush and I'd get really red. Then, the cutest girl in class would say, "Look how red Ricky's getting" and I'd pray to be saved by the bell.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Interestingly enough, when I met my husband 18 years ago, he used to blush all the time. He would get these bright red spots in his cheeks.

But he doesn't any more. I wonder why not? He grew out of it? He's toughened up? He did have jaw surgery about 12 years ago. Could that possibly have changed something physical?

Not that I'm recommending jaw surgery to cure your blushing!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I see high school students blush about all sorts of things every day!! :-)

Shelley Sly said...

I feel like blushing is much more common in books than in real life, but not to say it doesn't occur in real life. Just overused in books.

I blush. I didn't realize it for the longest time, but then a coworker pointed out that my face was red after I made a dumb mistake (go figure) and I realize that I do blush.

Jennie Bailey said...

Hilarious post! Now that you mention it, I'm reading about blushing ALL THE TIME in YA books. I blush myself usually for the same reason you do - only I make everything worse. I try to make a joke about the stupid thing I said and make it much worse. I was gift wrapping for charity last year and I stuck my foot farther and farther into my mouth talking to someone. My inner voice was SCREAMING at me "Just stop talking. Now. Just stop." But it was like my mouth was on autopilot and kept going. Meanwhile, my face was turning as red as my sweater. At least they were amused. I'm pale white so red shows up on me like a light in the darkness.

Shannon said...

I think most people blush, whether they realize it or not. I used to travel a lot, facilitating training sessions and I saw people blush all of the time.

I'm a blusher, too. Compliment me, I blush. Trip over my words, I blush. Say something stupid, I blush. You get the idea. =)

Colene Murphy said...

Ugh! I'm not alone!!! I blush all the time and it's always a snowball effect. I blush when I have to address more than 2 people at a time that aren't my friends. I blush when I have to talk one on one with someone I'm not comfortable with about something personal. And then I notice how they stare at my face as it goes red. And that makes it worse. And what REALLY makes it better is when you catch someone whisper how red I'm turning to someone else! THANKS DUDE. . .

Melissa said...

I blush maybe once a year. But my sister blushes ALL THE TIME! ANd she goes BEET red. I know what you're saying about books though. My main character blushes once...in the three books that make up her trilogy. Though I have a side character who blushes a lot. And he's a guy. Yeah, I like to mess things up :)

Joanna St. James said...

Ha ha I blush but I tell people "I'm blushing you just can't see it"
I hardly get embarrassed, my prof is uni was another story entirely she even blushed for other pple when they were making a fool of themselves

Hart Johnson said...

I blush once in a while, but I don't think anyone would describe me as a blusher--I think that is pretty common, in fact--the reason you think it only happens to you--for YOU, you are always there, but you only hit it on occasion for other people.

I sometimes have ONE character who is a blusher--my Cozy MC does because she is just a little reserved (and surrounded by people who are less so) and a 'near red-head' (a strain more inclined to blush anyway)--I think in my book she blushes once and her ears get hot twice--so the step before it showing.

As for books... bugs the heck out of me in a coy compliment situation (though it is the character who bugs me--which might be the goal--I don't care for prim-ness), but if someone embarrasses herself, or learns something she really DOESN'T want to know... seems fair game to me.

Tamara Narayan said...

It's been awhile since I've had an embarrassing blush moment. I think teaching helped because I was always doing something stupid in front of thirty or so people. I once asked the class for different basketball teams to make up a word problem on the board. One student suggested UConn which I wrote as Yukon! Boy, I'm not a sports fan. The class thought that was hilarious. I don't remember blushing.

Talli Roland said...

I am a terrible blusher. It's really awful. And once I feel it starting, I get even more embarrassed and blush more!

Janet Johnson said...

Does anyone who's not native ever really learn the French feminine and masculine? But yes, I'm a blusher . . particularly when it comes to those embarrassing stories parents and husband like to tell about me.

Medeia Sharif said...

People say that I blush when I'm smiling or laughing hard, but I'm not near a mirror when they say this.

I use blushing sparingly in my writing.

Susan Fields said...

I'm in my forties, and I still blush. Always have, probably always will. All kinds of things can bring it on, but I think it's usually those sexual innuendo situations mostly. It's funny you should bring this up because the mc in my wip blushes a lot. I guess I'll have to rethink that.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...