I have an issue with staring. I do it too often. I am not discrete. Some call it embarrassing. I call it people watching. When I get a stare in return, I don't look away. I snap a photo.
There is a moment in the BBC series of Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy share this "look" as she rides away from Pemberley in Episode 4. My family calls it "The Look".
All it is, really, is an attempt at a 180 degree (pronounced one-eighty, yes my grammar is correct) turn of the neck to look back at, well, Mr. Darcy. It's followed by a long gaze. The point is that she made the effort to look in spite of her body's positioning; she had to contort herself, stay in that position, and keep her gaze. The female protagonist was not simply facing this man. Life is never that simple, amiright?
And so, as cinematic as it is, this look is not too far from the truth of every day interactions. When we decided to look at another person, and really give them our attention, we make our minds and bodies do weird things. Maybe our bodies keep to a rhythm, one that started before 'the look' occurs, but one thing is for sure: it is no accident. It takes effort, and purpose, to stare someone down while continuing to make jewelry, drink wine (this one is especially hard!), or help customers.
Now, the man who chased me through a market in Italy, screaming at me to erase images I had just taken of him, probably didn't want to get to know me better. I regret staring at him. The fact of the matter is this: we shared a brief moment where the world stopped and our eyes interlocked.
The Look is a simple thing. It can mean anything or nothing. But it comes with an unspeakable knowledge that passes between two people: tension, confusion, longing, misunderstanding, why the hell are you looking at me. Such is 'The Look': when the gaze rests, the body moves, and the world keeps on its way.