a shaky grip on whatever guise it was

Kevin70s

Senior Member
Mandarin/Chiu Chow/Cantonese
Hi!
Does the part in bold type in the following sentence means that he was keeping a shaky grip on his clothes which people typically wear to navigate train stations and grocery stores? If so, what does the wear for navigating train stations and grocery stores imply? Casual and sloppy?

"Other times he was Louis Nordstrom, a 63-year-old professor, poet and essayist with a round face, a shaved gray head and a shaky grip on whatever guise it was that people employed to navigate train stations and grocery stores."

Source:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/magazine/26zen-t.html?pagewanted=all
 
  • pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    In this case, I think it means the facial expressions that people "wear" when in public. This man may grimace or smile wildly without intending to. He has a shaky grip (inadequate control) on the face he shows in public (employs to navigate...). Later, it says, "He was often in tears..." Most people try not to cry in public.

    Most people try to keep a neutral expression in public places, or perhaps smile a little when making eye-contact with strangers.
     
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