| I get a paltry paycheck every Friday for my services. I am a Cringe Specialist. I prefer to call myself a Cringe Artist. I specialize in the ability to highlight the appalling and expose any attempt to disguise or conceal embarrassment. The tactic used is called Cringing. I am one of about two dozen professionals. We each have the ability to recoil our limbs in such a way as to convey disgust like no others can. There is also the more subtle, more abstract technique using eye movements alone. That is by far the most difficult but if done properly nothing is more profound when communicating derision through silence. We are a small and secretive group of people tasked with making the world a more polite place. What follows is a recent event in which I intervened.
A woman was caught stealing one mushroom from the mushroom bin in a supermarket. She was embarrassed and humiliated at being caught. To further humiliate the woman the security guard decided to handcuff her right out in the open for all the shoppers to see. As the second cuff was clicked shut around her wrist the woman burst into tears. She was middle aged, neatly dressed, her clothes were clean and well kept. She did not look poor or desperate at all. She began pleading with the guard, who to my mind seemed to be enjoying her pain. He was large, overweight, unkempt, loud, and vulgar. This last assessment I garnered from the amused expression that flashed across his face each time the woman begged to be released. What a pig, he's getting off on this. Perhaps I could help. These were my thoughts leading up to my decision to take action, to use my abilities and professionalism to get this woman released. It's these very situations that re-enforce my rational for remaining in a career that pays very little, offers no benefits, and has little, if any, possibility for advancement. There are the occasional success stories, but they are rare and depend as much on luck as talent. I have been working game shows and political campaigns lately and hardly making enough to pay the rent. I know I need to shake things up. I have been putting off finding a new agent since the one I am currently with doesn't seem too invested in my success. These are life's small inconveniences which come and go but at that moment none of those things were important. What was important was freeing this woman, so I gathered myself and began with a plan. First I needed the attention of the guard, very important. Next I had to have the full attention of the woman in distress, not as important as the guard but still necessary. And finally, but most importantly, the persuader, the crowd. With everything straight in my mind I moved into position. I decided to use the Bird Leg Strut. To draw the guard's attention and make him vulnerable to a cringe. It's a technique I have perfected over the years, a unique style all my own. I mimic the long legged stride of the flamingo. I make sure to bob my head up and down with an exaggerated flair to add a bit extra for the desired effect. Immediately I caught the guard's attention. He eyed me with the confused look of an imbecile confronting genius for the first time. To my surprise the woman was paying attention. She froze in what to the uninitiated would appear to be fear and shock. Not so, my experience assures me her expression was one of relief knowing that help was on the way. Her struggling and pleading came to a complete halt. My Bird Leg strut had worked better than anticipated. I hadn't counted on getting two birds, no pun intended, with one stone but it saved me from having to make a second move to gain her attention. Now all that was left was the crowd. There were about twenty shoppers standing back a few feet looking on. Most wore expressions of derision to some degree. On whom the focus of their derision was I couldn't say, but it wouldn't matter, I would win them all over regardless. I was in position and ready, prepared to unleash my cringe. I had decided to go Full on Face and Aquatic Limbs with my attack. This is a style I developed over the years. I named it Full on Face because I have to contort my entire countenance in such a way as to appear to be pleading, laughing, and about to vomit all at once. It is both disarmingly endearing and hideously repulsive. Not an easy thing to pull off for any professional and near impossible for an amateur. I was no amateur. I sensed the crowds' anticipation as their heads all turned to watch my performance. I looked into the crowd. I felt the same sense of power I always feel when I am about to unleash a cringe with the power of revolutionary persuasion. I let loose with Full on Face. There was an audible gasp from some of the women. I was off to a good start. I turned and looked at the handcuffed woman through a half opened twisted Full on Face eye. Rescue is eminent I silently conveyed. Aquatic Limbs was up next. I coined the term after watching myself for hours in one of the dressing room mirrors at my favorite clothing store. The movements I reflected bestowed on me a lithe sway of body, a confident agile motion, I could think of only one thing, an octopus. I waved my arms in rhythm to a slow salsa beat playing in my head. My body swayed hypnotically, grabbing the attention of my captivated audience, and then, at that precise moment, with Full on Face once again turned toward the crowd, I froze in mid Aquatic Limbs. The timing was perfect. With the power of Zeus rising from my center I twisted every living fiber, coiling them inward into a tight chocking knot. One second of hesitation followed and then I exploded, snapping wide open into a earth shaking cringe illuminating the guard's ignorance and causing him such an overwhelming red faced embarrassment that it expired all the crowds built up tension into one loud gasp. Extraordinary, terrific, quite a sight to see, the accolades poured out from the mouths of the astonished witnesses who had never seen anything like it. The cringe had succeeded. The guard now so openly embarrassed by his treatment of the woman, aqueous and removes the handcuffs. I win. Being a Cringe Specialist is an art. Like all artist money is a secondary consideration. I may never get rich, or may be late with this month's rent, but hell, I am an artist, and a damn good one.