I don't want any sniggering...but I am about to let you into a little secret... This coming Friday (in the name of duty) I am going to perform a fan dance...fortunately for all concerned...it is a team effort and I will not be torturing anyone with a solo performance of the Sugar-plum fairy with a fan!
Anyway, whilst rehearsing over the past few weeks it has crossed my mind that fans are quite useful accessories; other than the obvious ability to keep one cool; they can be used for belting out of step/time colleagues at appropriate moments! But I didn't realise they actually had a 'communication' use as well.
This weekend I watched 'A Good Woman'
, the movie version of Wilde's 'Lady Windermere's Fan'
. The movie itself was quite average, I couldn't help feeling that Helen Hunt was somewhat mis-cast, and Wilde's classic lines were delivered fairly awkwardly - it just didn't flow or feel comfortable and Lady Windermere's Fan has some classic lines - so it was a shame....I can resist anything but temptation.
It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.
Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
During the course of the play/movie, a fan is purchased...at this stage the American temptress starts to spin her web around her prey...and she describes the secret sign language that was used when fans were a necessary part of a lady's dress.
With a very small amount of research (thank you Google) I found that this fan-language was not limited to the few gestures that were mentioned in the movie, but that it was almost possible to have a full conversation going with the man of your choice. Obviously the fans were predominantly used to communicate with men, and equally obviously it was a fairly one-sided conversation as the average man probably wouldn't have carried a fan (although the Pinoy skill of communicating almost solely with the eyebrows could have been quite useful in this case!).
So...a quick introduction to fan language:
1) THE FAN PLACED NEAR THE HEART:"You have won my love."
2) A CLOSED FAN TOUCHING THE RIGHT EYE: "When may I be allowed to see you?"
3) THE NUMBER OF STICKS SHOWN ANSWERED THE QUESTION: At what hour?"
4) THREATENING MOVEMENTS WITH A FAN CLOSED: "Do not be so imprudent"
5) HALF-OPENED FAN PRESSED TO THE LIPS: "You may kiss me."
6) HANDS CLASPED TOGETHER HOLDING AN OPEN FAN: "Forgive me."
7) COVERING THE LEFT EAR WITH AN OPEN FAN: "Do not betray our secret."
8) HIDING THE EYES BEHIND AN OPEN FAN: "I love you."
9) SHUTTING A FULLY OPENED FAN SLOWLY: "I promise to marry you."
10) DRAWING THE FAN ACROSS THE EYES: "I am sorry."
11) TOUCHING THE FINGER TO THE TIP OF THE FAN: "I wish to speak with you."
more 'signs' from here
However, there seems to be a fundamental problem, the majority of lists of fan-language concur with the above list...however there are a few that deviate....from this site
I learn that "Running her fingers through the fan's ribs means 'I want to talk to you'". I can't help wondering if this is English-English and American-English in fan language! This confusion does seem to me to have the possibility to cause a major breakdown in male-female communications (nothing new there then!)or a possibly embarrassing incident.
Given how bad my memory is for anything other than my full name and birthdate I know that if I had to communicate using this I would cause myself some huge embarrassment, lose out on a potential 'man of my dreams' or organise some secret assignation at the wrong time.... I have enough trouble communicating verbally in English without adding any other challenges to life!
On a more humorous note, going back to the fan dance, the boys involved in the fan dance are very good at flicking out their fans, now given that the 'flicking action' is all from the wrist, I am not accepting their 'It's from playing badminton' excuses!!!
So, think of me on Friday afternoon, providing a few minutes of totally unintentionally funny entertainment to my colleagues! That is of course, if I don't fall off the stage at the beginning, which given my perennial clumsiness is definitely a possibility!