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Want an instant conversation starter?

Suffer trauma to the eye area.

I know.  I have a black eye.

A black eye is our society’s entrée to breaking down any barriers related to approachability and our innate quest for information.

Maybe it stems from the ‘60s TV commercials for Tareyton cigarettes that featured a man with a black eye, boasting that he’d “rather fight than switch.”

A black eye is like an auto accident.  People can’t turn away and everyone who sees it wants to know what happened.  It doesn’t matter if they are strangers you meet on the street, people you see regularly but don’t typically talk to or friends and family.

Some have genuine concern:  “What happened?”  Others, mostly men, open with:  “Who’d you piss off?” “Who dotted your eye” or “What’s the other guy look like?”

Well – while playing first base in my last baseball game, I was hit by a pick-off throw that I lost in the lights.    Thankfully, I wasn’t seriously injured.

And I’m glad you asked…

I’m still curious as to why a black eye opens the flood gates to conversation.  Any thoughts?


Scott Hanson
Scott Hanson
President Scott is president of HMA Public Relations and a founding member of the Public Relations Global Network. He’s a Phoenix native, husband, father of two and a fan of all sports and a participant in some. Check out Scott's full bio


  1. Stephanie Lough says:

    I had a black eye – from an auto accident, incidentally – so people really couldn’t look away. Strangers were not quick to ask me what happened, but I suppose it is a little different when a girl looks like she has been beaten up than a guy. Or because I wore huge sunglasses and people assumed I was blind.

    I do have a pretty noticeable birthmark on my arm that has been a conversation starter many times, usually because a person mistakes it for an injury. Personally, I think it looks more like a tattoo of a potato than a bruise.

  2. It adds character, Mr. Hanson. Maybe it should be a permanent look? In our business, we can use all the help with conversation starters that we can get.

  3. Erica Bailin says:

    Last semester, there was a female in our office who had a black eye. Before I could even ask her what happened, she blurted out a story to everyone about how she hit herself with a tennis racquet. It is almost like she felt the need to explain why she wasn’t as pretty as she was the day before without it.

    You never hear the saying, “Dudes dig scars,” but, “Chicks dig scars,” is commonly said by men in our culture.

  4. Andy says:

    Hanner… glad it only bruised around the eye, instead of the eye itself!!

    It seems we only get hurt doing something non-heroic… trip over the cat, fall down the stairs, run into a door…in this case lose sight of the ball. Rarely do we get injured, or even put in the situation of some kind of heroism…saving a life, catching the winning touchdown, discovering something new. But many seek the BIG HEROIC STUFF.

    What does this say… Life is full of LITTLE STUFF, that amounts to FULL LIFE. There was a book and philosophy that was popular several years ago…Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… I never liked this..as most of life is a weaving of the Small Stuff… a smile to someone you don’t know, buying someone something they need but don’t have the $, letting someone verge into traffic on a busy street… These little things are easy and simple, and make a huge impact on the lives of others. Make a difference in someone’s life today… doing this will be “keeping your eye on the ball.”

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