I long for faces – and have started hanging them up at home
Whenever I go out, I smile at people on the street. I want something from them. No, I’m not after money or even a conversation. I just want to see their faces. The very part of them that now remains hidden under a mask. I’ll take a smile full of crooked teeth over an expensive designer mask any day of the week; a head game of my own creation over the sight of the umpteenth disposable mask.
I’m falling into pareidolia. As of late, shapes that only vaguely resemble human facial features turn into full-blown faces in my mind. I see smiley faces on cars. And there’s a clown grinning at me from my very own living room wall. His name’s Gustav. His countenance restores that familiar feeling I’ve been missing.
Before the lockdown, all I had to do was look out the window and I’d see the trendy restaurant around the corner brimming with life. Now, it stands deserted. With the exception of the lone Uber Eats courier now and then.
There’s an article about pareidolia in the NZZ (in German) that explains why I’m suddenly seeing faces everywhere; being a social being, I’m looking for «members of my own kind». So, with each glance Gustav gives me, I find what I’m longing for. And that comforts me. It’s a bit like the old days when I could watch people right from the comfort of my home. Sometimes, they would look back at me. That used to make me blush. But today, I would openly smile at them.
In addition to all that, I’m an aesthete. I need eye candy in the form of outfits, lipstick colour and eyebrow looks. And I’m currently running low. Whether it’s on masks or in empty streets, I even see faces where neither eyes nor nose are to be seen at all. I feel a bit like the Israeli artist Shira Barzilay, who turns the world into a canvas. She paints faces on her shakshuka or chocolate; I paint them on my breakfast eggs.
Faces aren’t something only Shira and I feel strongly about. They’re also a popular element in home decor. I first wrote about this living trend (in German) two years ago. But I can only really relate now. All the «human» designs stimulate my imagination. So, fresh flowers in Waldtraut (that’s what I named my vase) quickly become hair I can restyle whenever I please. And it satisfies my craving for eye candy.
And whenever I view Waldtraut on my dining table, I do hope that I’ll be able to look at real hairstyles hanging out at the hipster restaurant right outside my door. I do hope to hear the glasses clink again. And I even hope to start looking out the window again before daring to head to Migros in sweatpants. After all, you never know who you might run into on the way. There might be a familiar face. Until then, the beautiful Waldtraut and playful Gustav will simply have to do.