One day, when my son was probably 12 or 13, I was driving him and one of his friends somewhere -- they were both riding in the back seat. We were on a fairly busy street when I happened to glance in the rear-view mirror and saw that they were mashing their faces up against the back windows with looks of what I can only describe as horror/desperation. Exasperated, I said, “what are you DOing!!?” They said, “we’re trying to look desolate.” They were succeeding.
This came back to me as I was thinking about how having the right prop can dramatically effect our ability to communicate a feeling or emotion. If I was a smoker, I could portray angst, despair, boredom, or an air of insouciance when relevant.
It is the only reason I ever wish I had a cigarette. You just can't get that effect with say, a carrot or a piece of licorice.