Metatalktail Hour: Hidden Talents and Odd Adventures July 1, 2017 7:08 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! I'm going with a combo topic tonight of two closely related suggestions: pjern wants to know odd and unusual things you've done, and August West is curious about your hidden talents! Maybe they're the same! Maybe they're different! Maybe you have no talents but have done a lot of odd things! Well this is the thread to tell us about it.

As always, avoid politics, feel free to chatter on any topic you like, and send suggestions for future topics to the mods for our ever-growing list!

And don't miss our July Best Post Contest! Member voting! Mod preference categories! First- and Second-Time Poster recognition! Member categories!

(Clearly I was issued too many exclamation points this week!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 7:08 PM (162 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Here, EM. I have a couple of crates of exclamation marks from Ikea if you need more!!

[...] [|||]
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:18 PM on July 1, 2017 [15 favorites]

My college age/post-college brief career as a radio "wacky sidekick" provided a majority of my "odd adventures" over relatively few years, including a 72-hour trip from L.A. to London exactly 40 years ago, where I became the first 'broadcast journalist' ever to record the sound of the trading floor at Lloyds of London (which is an Insurance Exchange like a stock exchange, not a single insurance company), and stayed up 'til midnight with extreme jet lag to stand under Big Ben at midnight and record all 12 of its chimes.

But it also forced me to "display a hidden talent". To commemorate the last broadcast from a radio studio with a full studio audience facility, my boss staged a low-budget Amateur Talent Show (that was listened to by Chuck Barris, who privately admitted being inspired by it). As an official member of his entourage, I stayed behind the scenes until they found themselves running out of acts before they ran out of broadcast time. So I volunteered to improvise. I told the emcee that I had been secretly training to be a tightrope walker (the audience took one look at this fat kid and giggles broke out). Regrettably, I didn't have my regular equipment with me, but since there were several audio cables stretched over the floor of the stage, I said I could use them (and the engineers trying to keep the broadcast on the air went into a near panic). So, for a little over a minute, I walked carefully on the tops of the cables from one end of the stage to the other, holding my arms out like an acrobat, and vocalizing some circus music, with a little drum roll when I changed direction. Now, please remember this was on radio, but half the TV stations in L.A. had news crews present for the "last broadcast" angle. So that evening I sat down nervously in front of my TV to see if I got any news exposure... nothing until the end of the 10PM news where George Putnam, an infamously opinionated anchor (and one of the inspirations for MTM's Ted Baxter) used it for his end-of-broadcast 'kicker' story, and, after I thought it was all over, he said "you know, I've worked on TV and radio, and there are some things that are just BETTER on the radio", then, under the credit roll for the newscast, my entire 'act' went out to his audience. His usual sign-off was to say "Here's to a better America!" and point at a flag... well, that was the night he pointed at me instead...
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:46 PM on July 1, 2017 [24 favorites]

I was running late on posting tonight because I had to shepherd the little McGees off to the observatory, the first clear Saturday we've had in weeks!

One of my hidden talents is that I can move my eyes independently (in very limited circumstances, I have to start with them crossed), which I have used in many situations with small children who are restless and need to be amused.

Another one is that I am kick-ass at pronouncing Irish names (from attending a college full of Irish Catholics), which comes up surprisingly often in the US just now and people are always amazed when you can pronounce (and/or spell) "Aoife" right on the first try. (Talent not impressive outside the US.)

I'll have to think about odd adventures, I've had a few but they all seemed so logical at the time that I tend to forget they're odd until they come up and people are like "WTF?"
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:51 PM on July 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is more an unusual situation. A couple of Julys ago I met an astronaut and he asked me if it would be ok if he took a selfie (yeah yeah I know it's not a selfie if there's two people but that's what he said) with me!

Not the other way around.

I was in Huntsville, AL when we met, but we both grew up in the same small stinky papermill town, Camas, WA (go papermakers!). I think he was just super surprised and tickled to meet someone from Camas in Alabama! I later figured out he grew up living right across the street from my grandparents.
posted by Secretariat at 7:52 PM on July 1, 2017 [10 favorites]

Also, I can think of at least two excellent stories I've heard from pjern right off the top of my head- I look forward to finding out what he's got today.
posted by Secretariat at 7:58 PM on July 1, 2017

I've conducted and won seagoing battles on sail-driven boats using projectile weapons. (Yachts, slingshots)

99% boredom, 1% frenzy.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:00 PM on July 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

I can do that thing with stereoscopic images where you sort of unfocus your eyes and let both images combine into one 3D picture. I learned it from looking at a lot of 3D images of molecules in graduate school, but it's really handy for those spot-the-difference games where the pictures are side by side (there's no 3D effect, but the differences look weird and blurry whereas the identical portions look normal). Can't do those "Magic Eye" stereograms, though.
posted by Quietgal at 8:08 PM on July 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

In 1993 I went on a photo safari to the countries around Lake Victoria. One leg of the trip was an overnight boat ride from Bukoba to Mwanza on the lake ferry MV Bukoba. Just shy of three years after my trip, the Bukoba sank, with a loss of almost 1000 lives.
posted by Bruce H. at 8:41 PM on July 1, 2017

Unusual things I've done:

- I visited the USSR in 1989 (glasnost, baby) as part of a teacher/student peace committee homestay.
- I was quoted on the front page of the NYTimes and on NPR because of my day job, and was in MIT's music journal because of my avocation.
- I got four stars in Downbeat for music that has literally zero relationship with jazz
- I drove from Boston MA to Portland OR in 54 hours with two other guys
- I taught at a high school in Asia that had the highest average SAT score of any high school in the world for several years running (when I was there)
- I wore the same pair of jeans 3-5 days a week for 10 years
- I played a solo set at Shinjuku Pit Inn
- I cut my head open planting a monkey puzzle tree. It was my height when I planted it and is over 40 feet tall now.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:56 PM on July 1, 2017 [12 favorites]

My hidden talents:

- I can whistle above 15khz and whistle multiphonically
- I can throat sing
- I can circular breathe
- I can do lots of yo-yo tricks
- I own at foosball
- I can speed read
- I can touch my tongue to my nose
- I can wiggle my ears
- I can roll a cigarette (or...) with one hand while driving a stick shift
- I can triple jump and throw a javelin
- I can throw a knuckle ball
- I can recite a shit ton of Shakespeare soliloquys from memory
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:02 PM on July 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

Weird! I just got off the phone with Pjern.

I can make soap in a crockpot. Most people make soap the cold process way, which takes 4 weeks to cure, but if you make it in a crockpot, it becomes soap in 2 hours. Because, science. Then you have bubbles in your hand. Voila!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:16 PM on July 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

Jeez, we get it already, Joseph Gurl: you're the entire MetaFilter sideshow.

not jealous at all
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:21 PM on July 1, 2017 [14 favorites]

When I was 19 or 20, I was hanging out at my friend's communal apartment and some random woman I had never met before needed a ride to a town half an hour away. I had a car, and I was kinda bored, so I offered. She asked if I could hang out in said town for about two hours and then bring her back to PVD. Ok, sure. So I brought a friend, we dropped her off, and then hung out in a parking lot for a few hours until she called me to pick her up. And that's the story of how I unexpectedly got paid $100 for bringing an escort to her date. (Don't tell my parents!)

My hidden talent is finding things. My memory sucks in many ways, but spatial memory is where I'm a Viking. One night I was at my best friend's apartment, and the next day, while on the phone with her, she told me she lost her license. I told her exactly where it was. In my house, we have three bookcases in two rooms, with shelves two to three rows deep. The mister will ask me for a book, and I can retrieve in within a minute. The kid and mister will often call me when I'm outside the house when they can't find something. If someone asks me "Do you remember when we talked about X?" I'll have no idea what they're talking about, but if the ask "Do you remember when we were at Y location?" I can pull up the conversation verbatim. I have an excellent sense of location, but I need to do the L thing with my hand to tell right from left.
posted by Ruki at 9:23 PM on July 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

I can tie a bowline knot really fast, I once won a contest.
I'm good at soldering, Mil-Spec certified and all that...
I have a reputation at work for being the Modbus whisperer, if stuff isn't communicating I'll come and fiddle with settings for a few minutes and vou-la.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:24 PM on July 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have ridden an ostrich
I have crocheted a banana
And I wrote a book
posted by Mchelly at 9:27 PM on July 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

I can firebreath (actually anyone can, it's super easy, just don't swallow).

I think most of my 'hidden talents' are a result of my rural upbringing. I present a rather effete - even foppish - mien, and people are often surprised I think when I talk about building my chicken house, rounding up cattle etc. None of the skills are especially noteworthy, but city slickers tend not to think about the land/livestock very much.

I find this an interesting 'hidden talent', as my rural upbringing had a fundamental role in my construction as a person, and in particular has given me a deep and abiding connection to nature, the land. I'm not a very spiritual person, at all, and that's as close as I get. I feel like it's like a secret part of me, and a source of strength (not the skills, the connection).

I'm very happy this week as a running injury that had sidelined me for over a month finally got diagnosed and with it a treatment that appears to be working - getting that exercise makes a big difference to my stress levels so it's been delightful to get back into it, albeit lightly.
posted by smoke at 9:39 PM on July 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I also rode a bull when I was four. By which I mean that my Pop put me on one of his bulls and he and me mom each held an arm, and two seconds later I was just hanging in the air. Speaking of the farm, my babcia would make this stew with this Polish name that I found out years later translated to "small woodland creature stew." Whatever my uncles shot, we ate. So I've eaten squirrel and woodchuck and other woodland creatures. Pop also named a bull after me because it was born on my birthday, so they had a bull named Jennie. I grew up on a duck farm, so I also had ducks named after me. I was attacked by a rooster when I was five. I once saved someone's life when they went into anaphylaxic shock in a deeply rural area far from any hospitals and I jabbed my EpiPen into their leg. He kept insisting that he was fine after taking some Benadryl, but his face was literally purple. Then the idiot went and smoked some pot to counter the epinephrine high.
posted by Ruki at 9:47 PM on July 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

One time I was in an avalanche and didn't notice. I was just hiking along on my way to climb a frozen waterfall and all the sudden I was neck deep in snow. "What the fuck is this bullshit?" I said. One of the people I was climbing with said, "That was an avalanche." And I'm all, like, "This is just some bullshit snow falling off the side of a mountain. It's not a fucking avalanche." She gently reminded me that, technically, an avalanche is literally snow falling off the side of a mountain.

And I can play the pedal steel guitar, which isn't really so much a talent as evidence that one's brain works in a specific and weird way.
posted by stet at 9:50 PM on July 1, 2017 [18 favorites]

Odd things:
--Friends and I were probably one of the last people to learn about 9/11 - we "missed" it because of a month long backpacking trip. By the time we got out of the woods the U.S. was already on its way to Afghanistan.
--Have in my will instructions the song, "I love the whole world" from the Discovery Channel ad, be played at my funeral, with the lyrics in the program so everyone can sing along.
--Went to a real one room schoolhouse until the 3rd grade. And not only am I a first gen college student, I'm the only person who went there who's actually finished college (as of now). *shyly* I've been published in some of those one word science journals a few times, and every time it happens I send copies to my teacher and tell her thank you. I'm pretty proud I went from those kind of roots to that kind of accomplishment, but I also know how much help I had getting here! I'm so grateful.
--Eaten whale shit. I was hit in the face (wave action) by whale feces and accidentally swallowed.
--Have an FBI record due to a frozen rattlesnake.
--Was in a bad accident and took 4 years to learn how to walk again

Hidden talents:
-- Fucking up going on an Antarctic research expedition multiple times. The first time I gave it up for love (my best friend was my alternate, she had wanted to go since she was a child and I was thinking I would give it up, but she was insistent I shouldn't - then I met the man whom I later married which made it super easy for her to say yes). But every time since I've either broken my leg (3!!!! times!!!) right before (one time all I did was miss a stair grrr) or came down with a highly infectious illness . . . I refuse all invitations now. Yeah.
--Good at coming up with parody song lyrics on the fly while singing a song. Like. . . I can take Copacabana and make it a song about tacos while standing in line at the taco place. Or my all-time favorite, which turned Fiona Apple's song "Criminal" into a song about having the flu: "I've got a bad, bad cold. . . I've been careless with my immune system. . . blah blah I've come to you cause I need guidance for my flu. . . ." Which turns up in a combo.
--People have repeatedly commented I have almost a photographic memory for terrain. Like. . . I can see a rock outcrop for only 20 minutes and remember all kinds of detail years and years later. I have a nice side business using this.

--uhhhhhh I sing in the bathoom, about going to the bathroom, usually by turning pop songs on the fly into parody. (Think . . .Potty in the USA) I think I've said this here before? Anyway, I often do this in public without realizing it. And apparently for some reason it cheers people up! People tell me that all the time, like a woman crying in the stall next to me heard me come in and it just made her feel better I have so much fun going to the bathroom. So I guess I'm good at it? Or an object of pity, hahahaha!
---So since we're allowed to brag here. . . as part of a study I once took one of those intelligence tests that measure different kinds of intelligence, and scored so high in a particular area I was told the test couldn't actually measure it as it was written. (Although for the record, I also scored quite poorly in other areas!) As a result I'm regularly contacted by intelligence researchers to do things for them! While that by itself is kind of cool in its own way, as a scientist myself I'm much more excited about being able to help the science along and actually see it progressing in real time. One of the things they're super interested in is if my ability's innate, developed, or both, and the things they have me do are just fascinating.
--I'm pretty good at both lawnmower racing and greased pig wrestling, and have won competitions in both.
posted by barchan at 9:57 PM on July 1, 2017 [27 favorites]

I'm pretty good with yeast doughs/batters. I was surprised to hear a lot of people (even experienced cooks/bakers) avoid yeast or can't make it work for them. My MIL completely refuses to try yeast, claiming 'it never rises for me!'. Another friend says it's too 'complicated' for her. Both are accomplished cooks/bakers. I've never had a problem. Mostly I make fruit cakes (with crumbly topping) and pizza or baguette or challah/cinnamon roll type stuff with this talent. Want to try yeast waffles and pancakes some time. Let me know if you have a good recipe. I have access to sourdough starter, too.
posted by The Toad at 10:00 PM on July 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have a Single Transverse Palmar Crease. And had six wisdom teeth ("supernumerary"), but they extracted all but one when I was younger.

These aren't "things I've done", or "hidden talents", but hey.
posted by not_on_display at 10:04 PM on July 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Odd/unusual things I've done:
- Nearly sank a small boat in a very shallow lagoon; related: stayed on an island where the ground was so covered with crabs in the evening, they would scatter like so many crickets with each step. Also related: got to see some manatees and have dinner with a bat.
- Ate food from trash bins.
- Lived without running water for extended periods; bathed in melted snow.
- Squirmed through very small passages into dark caves.
- Went off to live with some guy after only spending a few days with him in person (but lots more days writing each other); we are still together 16 years later.
- (Mostly) recovered from more than a decade of disability by accident when trying to treat another medical condition.
- I guess I'm one of the handful of people in my country who make koji, the special fermentation rice used for saké.

Hidden talents: building fires, researching, socializing shy/feral animals and accumulating other people's pets, tetrising lots of things into small spaces. I have insanely good peripheral vision and (as far as I can tell) perfect color vision. I can tune a guitar by ear.

There is apparently a piece of art of mine hanging in my old high school 20+ years later. My sister ran across it and recognized it.
posted by moira at 10:07 PM on July 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

I was stalked for months by a wild turkey who had a prurient interest in me and would block the nearby highway by refusing to move.

I was part of an FBI sting operation. He had it coming.
posted by kamikazegopher at 10:12 PM on July 1, 2017 [7 favorites]

I don't know that this is hidden or odd, but I just cooked a dinner for a friend and I managed to do so: Without getting stressed out about the food, even though my friend was almost a half-hour late, and with shopping for it maybe three hours before she was scheduled to arrive, and with forgetting to buy a couple key ingredients during that shopping trip, and with only starting to clean the house two hours beforehand. It was still totally chill, and the food turned out really well, and my house looks presentable, and these are the sorts of situations that generally tend to freak me out and I'm rather pleased with myself that I may be finding some sort of non-perfectionist middle ground that allows me to enjoy hosting people more. And the food I cooked paired really well with the wine she brought, which had been the point of the evening (other than hanging out), so that was nice.

Also one of my cats decided to be super-charming, and even if he was really just trying to scam some roast chicken, that helped. As did the appearance of the local mama turkey and her baby (now adolescent) turkey, because it's hard to be stressed out when watching a gawky teenage turkey gambol about.
posted by lazuli at 10:33 PM on July 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

I stole a copy of Abbie Hoffman's "Steal This Book." I was browsing in a used bookstore when the power went out. This was after Abbie abandoned his earthly shell, and I like to think he was delighted to learn that someone actually did.

As for hidden talents, I have an infallible sense of direction outdoors, but I'm helpless indoors. Years ago I had a temp job in an immense NYC office building, and I spent nearly all of my lunch hour trying to find the elevator, from which I had disembarked only hours earlier.
posted by scratch at 10:34 PM on July 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

--Good at coming up with parody song lyrics on the fly while singing a song. Like. . . I can take Copacabana and make it a song about tacos while standing in line at the taco place. Or my all-time favorite, which turned Fiona Apple's song "Criminal" into a song about having the flu: "I've got a bad, bad cold. . . I've been careless with my immune system. . . blah blah I've come to you cause I need guidance for my flu. . . ." Which turns up in a combo.

I do this too! My dad got my daughter a stuffed pig who we named Dr. Pigita ("we" being me, the baby will be a year old on Sunday and is not yet naming her own piggies) but she's not a medical doctor, she has a PhD in Classics and we (again, me) often sing about this to the tune of "Waltzing Matilda" with a set chorus and impromptu verses (Chorus: "Doctor Pigita, DOCTOR PIGITA, Doctor Pigita has earned her degree, for she worked so much and studied very very hard, Doctor Pigita has earned her degree!"). The verses are usually about her starting out as a young and determined piglet developing her interest in dead languages (a verse might be something like "When she started school she read about Odysseus, and she developed a life-long love! With determination, she continued studying, now she can oink in Latin and Greek. Doctor Pigita, DOCTOR PIGITA, Doctor Pigita has earned her degree, for she worked so much and studied very very hard, Doctor Pigita has earned her degree!"). Sadly after the early verses about how she worked hard and learned many dead languages the song usually takes a dark turn as Doctor Pigita realizes that tenure is dying out and she is stuck with an adjunct position while she searches for something permanent. Honestly I try to stick to just a verse or two to keep it inspiring because otherwise the song turns into a message about the perils of attempting to launch an academic career at this point in time and it gets sort of depressing.

Anyway yes I do this too!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:39 PM on July 1, 2017 [43 favorites]

Time magazine once named me person of the year. Not a big deal, it was shared with a few others actually.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:39 PM on July 1, 2017 [16 favorites]

I am totally in love with Mrs. Pterodactyl, but I suspect this is neither odd nor unusual, either.
posted by lazuli at 10:52 PM on July 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

Want to try yeast waffles

Overnight Yeasted Waffles
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:53 PM on July 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

I can't quit this thread. My mom has an FBI file on her. She was on Federal Hill in PVD and ran into a friend of her boss at the time. He introduced her to his friend.
posted by Ruki at 11:10 PM on July 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thanks EM!

I have parking Karma. Straight and simple, I will always get a spot right where I need it. This is even more impressive bc I drive a big ass pickup truck. When I go into Manhattan for dinner, I drive and find a spot on the street within a half block of the restaurant every single time. Going to a big sporting event? Park right where I want to in order to get in AND out quickly. The downside is that I am now expected to drive to most events with my friends. The upside is that my kids are impressed.

Also, small children and animals love me. Have a crying baby that won't settle down or go to sleep? Hand them to me. Immediate calm. I have no idea why but it is true. Animals come up to me all the time too. I was napping in a field after a long bike ride with some friends when a deer came up to me and lay down next to me. Up against my leg like a cat or dog might do. Ferociously barking dogs will stop when I talk to them. Cats that do not like people like me. I had a polar bear in a zoo put its paw up against the window where my hand was and look at me.

Finally, I can out-chug anyone with a can of carbonated beverage. No shot gun. Just open the top and chug. I prefer beer, but have out-chugged people with Diet Cokes, Seltzer or other carbonated beverages. As recently as 2 years ago, this 50 something man won a chugging contest drinking a tall boy PBR against 4 juniors in college. (Also, not a talent, but later that night I won the ghost pepper eating contest. I was the only one to eat mine and keep it down. Jeez, college kids these days are soft...) I think my success lies in my ability to ignore the pain of the carbonation.
posted by AugustWest at 11:59 PM on July 1, 2017 [12 favorites]

Good at coming up with parody song lyrics on the fly while singing a song.

We did this with our rescue dog who sings to her ball when we play fetch (to the tune of "Fight Song").
"This is my ball song. Bounced off a wall song. I come when called so-oooooo-ong!"
posted by kamikazegopher at 12:12 AM on July 2, 2017 [9 favorites]

I just finished and self-published a romance novel that was originally inspired by a Mefite's cat, about 18 months ago when I was still using my former username here. All the proceeds from sales/donations are going to Trans Lifeline, a crisis line for trans people run by trans people, in the US and Canada. It features a super-flamy cis guy in his twenties and a super-stable trans guy in his early/mid 40s. I flatter myself that it is an unusually good depiction of a trans guy, right down to some excellent anatomical detail in the sex scenes. But, then, I live and love with an excellent model.

This is my first extended, solid piece of fiction writing. I've been writing personal essays and other non-fiction for decades, and during my 20s and early 30s was a popular storyteller around these parts. But this is new, and exciting. I'm very proud of the book, but I would blush to tell you what people are saying about it. You know how you have that friend who writes a book and it turns out to be either really amateurish or outright terrible? I am not that friend.

You will see this in Projects before too long.

In other news: I changed my username here as part of destroying as much of my online presence as I could—deleted my twitter account, shut down my blog and password-procted the existing content, deleted other social media accounts. We feared that a toxic person in my son's life might go looking, find out he's trans, and cause trouble for him. Now that toxic person, the owner of my son's former gym, is much too busy with other things, and we have happily moved to another gym a bit farther away with a much healthier culture and, as it turns out, better equipment and coaching. Anyway, I wanted to share that because it's lovely to have that weight off our shoulders.

This son is a gymnast, and has always been very muscular (we joke that he was born with a six-pack...but it's hardly a joke). A month or so ago, I thought he was getting some breast tissue (Tanner Stage 2! Time to start hormone blockers!) so we dashed him off to Chicago to see his doctor at the Lurie Children's Hospital Sex and Gender Development Program. Turns out he's not developing breast tissue. He's just got really, really amazing pecs. Especially for a 9-year-old.

My son was the subject of an article I wrote which someone kindly made into a MetaFilter post back in the early days of his social transition. You will be happy to know that he is thriving, very solid in his identity, and generally happy as a pig in shit.

Anyway, good stuff in my life right now.
posted by Orlop at 12:16 AM on July 2, 2017 [27 favorites]

Let's see....

I've forded a river in an oxcart (in Thailand, Feb or Mar of 1974).
I've been in the Indianapolis 500 parade a few times when I was in high school. I've walked (actually marched) around the track on Race Day twice (Marching Band).
I've driven a tank.
I was once the only passenger in a C5-A Galaxy (at the time, the largest airplane in the world.)
I slept overnight in the MATS terminal at Clark AFB in the Philippines, which is how I ended up on that C5 - It left at 0330, and I was the only standby passenger in the terminal at that hour).
I was part of Jame's Randi's 'surveillance squad' that helped bust Peter Popoff (a slimy "faith healer" who was using a radio and an earwig to listen to God. In those days, God could be found on 224 Mhz, and sounded remarkably like Popoff's wife in the production trailer.)
In connection with the above, James Randi had dinner at my home once when I lived in Chicago.
I was out of the country for the entire period leading up to Star Wars in 1977, and hence had no idea of the phenomenon (I was in Addis Ababa IIRC). My next duty station was in Berlin, and in an attempt to improve my conversational German, I started going to movies during the daytime. One day, I happened on the Royal City theater, which was showing a little flick called Krieg der Sterne. I was blown away, and wondered why we didn't have moves like this at home... until I finally twigged...
I was once so drunk in Berlin that a mate and I thought we'd solve the cold war by throwing brickbats over the Wall and setting off a land mine or two. A couple of Brit MPs gathered us up and took us home to sleep it off. The next day, the Company B First Sergeant decided I needed some R&R.
I found a body once in Miami. Called the cops when I got to work (It was in an empty field behind the industrial park where I worked.) Probably drug-related according to the cops who interviewed me.
I used to be able to stop a freight train from 60 MPH within 10 feet of a preselected spot, if you want an unusual skill.
I have a great track record at ruining romantic relationships. If you want proof of miracles, my wife and I have been married for 23 years now.

There's probably lots more, but I'm dead tired. I'll post more if I remember them.
posted by pjern at 12:25 AM on July 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

In Russia, toilet finds you.
posted by bendy at 12:28 AM on July 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have performed, dressed up as a farmer, playing Baroque music on a Roland harpsichord-like device, together with five people playing various other instruments, dressed up like chickens, in school concerts on Greenland.
There are no real harpsichords on Greenland (or were, at the time), hence the Roland, which also had an organ stop and a celesta, which was sort of fun. Also, not many chickens, so we had to make sure every place we played, "do the kids know what we are?" -- "Ooh yes, we have three or four chickens in the village" [sound of yapping and howling dogs in the background].
posted by Namlit at 12:49 AM on July 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

When I was very little, I started having dreams about places and buildings I'd never heard of, seen, or been to. My parents were pretty patient folk, and so anytime I had one of these dreams I'd tell them about it the next morning and they'd listen to me describe in detail the place I'd dreamed about the night prior.

Initially my folks wrote these stories off as me just being an especially imaginative child. Then one day we were visiting a new park in our neighborhood for the first time, and right as we were driving up I asked if I could please play in the sand box near the water fountains. My parents were like, "Oh, honey, we don't think there are any sandboxes at this park," to which I replied, "Oh, it's okay, I know where it is. It's over by the water fountains. See?" And sure enough, there it was.

About a year later I dreamed about a grassy terraced place with lots of neat mazes and stones and ruins, drew it during preschool, and my teacher called home to ask when my folks had showed me Machu Pichu. They hadn't.

When I was 10 I drew an accurate floor plan of a theater I'd never been in from two perspectives (on the stage, and up in the catwalk). I had dreamed about it maybe 6 months prior, and remembered floating in both areas long enough to scan the room.

Then when I was about 16, my parents and I were moving to a new house. On our way there we drove by an odd grassy park area that was up on the side of a hill with kind of a nifty net around it. I casually said aloud, "Hey look, remember that one time I told you about that weird golf course I thought we'd live near someday? The one that had tall sails or something around it? I think that's it."

My mom slowed down the car so she could look at the netted area more closely. "I remember that. How old were you? 8? You said it wasn't going to be a golf course for long though. I wonder why."

We were too busy to stop, so we just mulled the topic over in silence on our way to our new home. A few days later my mom told me she'd gone up to the property to see what it was, and I had been right. It was a golf course, and on the side of the property we couldn't see from the street were these odd looking sail type fabric swatches that were supposed to keep high flying golf balls inside the course. Right after I graduated from high school the course was demolished and turned into a new housing development.

I still have these weird location-centric dreams whenever I'm able to sleep really deeply. Most of the time they just bring about a bit of deja vu if I end up someplace that resembles one of the dreamed about locations. But sometimes I know exactly where I am and exactly where I need to go, and that makes me wonder a bit about why I'm having these dreams in the first place.
posted by Hermione Granger at 1:48 AM on July 2, 2017 [40 favorites]

One more thing: I almost never brought any of these weird dream things up for attention or whatever. It was just something that happened periodically and aside from my parents only a few people were aware that I'd been right about certain locations' features, layouts, etc in advance of seeing them.

The only exception to this happened in high school right after I transferred to a private school my junior year. All my classmates were a bunch of brats who spent a lot of time harassing me for being new, so I was having a hard time acclimating until I had my second or third algebra class with this super sweet teacher who was just the best guy ever. Right before he was going to start a lesson, I had this ultra strong moment of deja vu about a) the classroom and b) what he was going to write on the whiteboard at this exact moment. I'm not talking a guess here either. I was 100% positive I'd dreamed about it before transferring and it was the most vivid memory of a dream I'd ever had, and I wanted to take advantage of it.

"Hey, Mr. B," I said as he picked up a marker. "I bet I can tell you what you're about to write on the board. Wanna see if I'm right?"

Immediately the class turned around to look at me. "Yeah, right," the worst kids said sneeringly. "You can't do that."

Mr. B was beside himself with delight at the idea so he overruled everyone and told me to set the terms.

"I'm gonna turn around and close my eyes," I said. "You show everyone what you were going to put on the board without talking, then I'm going to describe it to you without looking. Maybe bring in Mr. F if you want a backup witness or whatever." (Mr. F was our English teacher and kind of straightlaced.)

So Mr. F joined us, the class faced the board, and Mr. B showed everyone what he was going to write. As soon as he was done, I played my hand and described the formula and the short instructions for our opening assignment that he'd just shown, at which point there was a huge uproar and the whole class freaked the hell out because I was right on the money.

The situation never happened again, which is probably for the best, because at least one of my classmates was a ultra devout Baptist who probably would have tried to drown me for being the antichrist or something if she'd had the chance. School was a lot more fun after that, though!
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:46 AM on July 2, 2017 [31 favorites]

I can do that thing with stereoscopic images where you sort of unfocus your eyes and let both images combine into one 3D picture. I learned it from looking at a lot of 3D images of molecules in graduate school, but it's really handy for those spot-the-difference games where the pictures are side by side (there's no 3D effect, but the differences look weird and blurry whereas the identical portions look normal). Can't do those "Magic Eye" stereograms, though.

Me too, although I can do the Magic Eye thing too. In fact, I used to do the 3D images thing all the time as a kid with wallpaper that had close-set repeating motifs, way before Magic Eye pictures were a Thing. When Magic Eye books and posters suddenly became popular, years later, I was the only person I knew who didn't even need instructions but could do it almost without trying.

It's kind of a useless skill though.

The other weird thing I'm good at is that I can fall asleep in just about any situation at any time. And I can sleep for long periods on end. The most useful time was when I was super seasick while illegally hitchhiking on a yacht in the Pacific for five days, and it turned out that I could still sleep despite it all, and that when I was horizontal and had my eyes closed, the nausea stopped. So I just slept for five days almost non-stop. Got up about twice a day to use the bathroom and drink some water, check that I was still super seasick (yup) and went back to sleep.

It kind of sucked for the person I'd cadged the lift from though, because I'd persuaded them partly by promising to be a very helpful deckhand. Which I just... wasn't. He was nice about it, though, because I also paid off his debts at port before we left.
posted by lollusc at 3:30 AM on July 2, 2017

Where I work in Côte d'Ivoire, masks and the spirits inhabiting them are an important part of the religious tradition. Knowledge about things related to the masks is generally restricted to initiated men and boys, though women are allowed to watch and participate in some festivals, like when masks come out for funerals. The masks' spirits possess particular initiated men, and women aren't supposed to know or ask for details.

I really love the masks. I'm a good dancer (hidden talent?) and the dancing that some of the masks do connects to drums in a way that is amazing to watch and viscerally satisfying in the same way that really good blues dancing is. There are a few masks that I'm particularly impressed by, but my favorite mask is named Zoubaye, and he is from the village where I spend most of my time when I'm not in the forest.

Last year, one of my friends asked if I would be willing to be Zoubaye's "godmother," and help him buy things like the cloth he wears (pagnes baoulés), fresh raffia, and so on. Of course I said yes. So now, I can say that I'm not only lucky enough to have the relatively rare experience of watching Gueré, Oubi, and Dao masks (including some that very rarely come out of their sacred forests and some very old masks), but I help sustain the tradition and am linked to these cultures and people and places that are literally a world away from where I grew up. I can't express quite how cool it is.

Also, because the masks are often possessing young guys, who, when not possessed by spirits are very interested in flirting with white ladies, I've had the extra bizarre experience of being accosted by a story-telling mask trying to get me to use a wooden carved dildo like a microphone while giving him my phone number.
posted by ChuraChura at 3:31 AM on July 2, 2017 [24 favorites]

Most of my adventures are sexual in nature, but I don't feel like that stuff is quite appropriate for Metafilter. This is hardly a site for prudes, but then again it's not a place where people really share their crazy sexcapades either.

When I was 17 I had sex with my girlfriend in one of our classrooms at school. On the floor, because there wasn't really any other place to do it there. It was summer break, so it wasn't during a class or anything! (Although we did some sneaky stuff in class too.) It was fun.

That's probably about as much as I should say about that here. Perhaps... I've already said too much.

Oh, and I shot that guy in Reno just to watch him die.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:06 AM on July 2, 2017 [7 favorites]

I don't know how to paint or draw, but I like painting my inner life. I do inner life self portraits. Or I try to paint the energy of something, some event or a year. Sometimes it clicks and I get the feeling of it right.
posted by gt2 at 4:31 AM on July 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I stole a copy of Abbie Hoffman's "Steal This Book." I was browsing in a used bookstore when the power went out.

You had no choice.
posted by pracowity at 5:34 AM on July 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I drank a gallon of milk in four minutes.
posted by escabeche at 5:36 AM on July 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yeah, a classmate of mine did something like that, too. Luckily there was a sink in the back of the classroom, and my classmate was a discreet puker. Our teacher never really found out what was going on back there.
posted by Namlit at 6:15 AM on July 2, 2017

I can do that thing with stereoscopic images where you sort of unfocus your eyes and let both images combine into one 3D picture.

This gives me trouble when falling asleep sometimes, especially in hotel rooms, where there is a window with venetian blinds or wallpaper with horizontal lines. I'm trying to fall asleep, so my eyes are already relaxed, but then I will get the sudden stereoscopic thing and I'll have to roll over and find something else to focus on for a minute to unscramble my eyes.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:16 AM on July 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Odd adventures:

I've soloed in an airplane a couple of times. On my fourth one the airport suddenly got really busy, things got kind of stressful, and I had some sort of anxiety/panic attack and thought I was going to pass out. Yes, I was alone in an airplane and I thought I was going to faint. Good times. I thought about declaring an emergency but decided they couldn't really do anything about the situation anyway so I opened up the vent to get some fresh air on my face, really focused hard, and ended up pulling off my best crosswind landing ever. That was sadly the end of my flying lessons, however.

I've done a lot of hiking so I've slept in some strange places. Mouse-filled lean-tos with a bunch of strangers, inside snow caves, on a glacier at 11,000 feet, on a tarp by the side of a river, and plenty of times in a tent on top of several feet of snow.

I once sat about fifteen feet away from a bear while he consumed all the food that my dumb buddy and I didn't hang high enough in a tree.

I got lowered down into a crevasse once while practicing crevasse rescue. Just hanging there in space with nothing but blackness below, alone with my thoughts until my teammates hauled my out.

One time a me and a friend crossed a very high up railroad bridge. Just like in Stand By Me. We were a couple of Encyclopedia Browns and we deduced that since there was grass growing between the rails the track was abandoned. We were about 3/4 of the way across when the god dammed MBTA Commuter Rail train started coming across. Abandoned my ass. Fortunately we were able to run the rest of the way and not get killed, but it was close. I'm glad I'm not still young, high, and dumb.

I'm not sure I have any hidden talents. I guess if you show me the first 30 seconds of a Brady Bunch episode I can probably tell you which episode it is. I bet I could do the same for MASH. Do those count as talents?
posted by bondcliff at 6:59 AM on July 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

I took a picture of a polar bear in the wild from about 25 feet away. Admittedly a smallish (300-lb.) bear, but it was northern Greenland and she wasn't restrained or separated from me by any sort of fence or wall (and the nearest building was about 100 yards behind me), so I'm not sure if that counts as brave or foolish.
posted by easily confused at 7:19 AM on July 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

I've been kicked in the shin by a sea turtle (totally my fault, I did put her on that truck tire).

I was watchlisted by the TSA (again, my fault for putting the socks in that cookie jar).

I survived a tornado in Oklahoma by hiding in a cinder-block outhouse with my wife and dog. My tent was a total loss, but my Volvo survived with only minor scars, and that is why I refuse to sell that car.

I played Buddy Guy's guitar (with Buddy Guy attached).

I once played Minnesota Fats in pool and won (he scratched the 8 ball, he'd been drinking).

I once heard the voice of God say, "Oh, excuse me." (It was actually Morgan Freeman, he had just stepped on my toe.)

My vita includes credits/bylines in the British Medical Journal, Ceramics Monthy, and Maxim Magazine. (I dare anyone to assemble a more diverse trio, I will reward you with a free drink of your choosing.)

I'm sure there are others, but I usually only remember them in social situations when someone mentions something odd and them I can say, oh, that reminds me. My brain is a bit scattered after all it has been through, which is apparently a lot of semi-interesting things based on the reactions of those around me. I am occasionally asked how much of it is true, and my answer is 100%... if I was going to make stuff up, it'd be really exciting.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:22 AM on July 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

This is one of the strangest things I ever did: I was doing the voice narration for an instructional film about gynecological exams. The producer decided to add one more line, so I went over to the studio to record it. Studio was tiny, on a busy street, and trucks kept driving by, so we had to do many many takes. So there I was, saying over and over and over, in my Very Serious Narrator voice, "The doctor may insert a gloved finger into the rectum." Very surreal.
posted by JanetLand at 7:43 AM on July 2, 2017 [21 favorites]

Once I was doing acid on Mallorca and decided to walk down to the beach to watch the sunrise. On the way down you have to cross a creek using these ancient ancient stepping stones and I got stuck halfway across. Every couple of minutes there was this low and invisible moan, a sort of bellowing, and I decided that it was probably a sheep giving birth. I thought, too, of course, that it might be god. Or anyway a god. It was very primeval where I was, dust and olive trees and white stones. Finally I managed to get across the creek just as the sun was coming up and I turned and looked back and there was a big black goat with yellow eyes staring at me. So that was my first encounter with Pan.

On my second I was standing on a slope somewhere in Bent Creek which is a branch of Pisgah National Forest in western NC. I was winded from climbing and dizzy and wondering abstractly if I was going to die (I was very depressed that year) and he took the form of a heavily breathing red faced angry man in Bermuda shorts who appeared out of nowhere, shot me one contemptuous glance, huffed on up the trail and disappeared. Great god Pan is far from dead, I thought and was more cheerful for quite a long time.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:15 AM on July 2, 2017 [9 favorites]

I think I've recounted my adventures giving birth to my second child in the middle of my ethnographic fieldwork in Bolivia, living in a former squatter settlement with no running water or sewer, but I don't think I've recounted the adventures we had when my parents--then in their early 60s--arrived about a week later to visit and welcome the grandchild. So, you know...we've got a newborn baby but also this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for them so we plan to do some of the good touristy stuff while they're here as well. So we book a few days at an ecolodge down in the rainforest so they can see that part of the country, which in retrospect given the fact that my daughter was born in the middle of the rainy season may not have been a brilliant idea. We take the bus--it's normally about a 4-5 hour bus ride, if I recall. Except once we're underway the rain starts, and then a landslide blocks the only road down to the lowland town. So the bus company eventually works out transportation to pick us up on the far side of the blockage and take us the rest of the way, but we have to get out and walk through the mud and about a mile around the blockage, and then pile into a bus that has about twice as many people as it should to ride the rest of the two hours to the town. With my parents in their 60s and a 2-week old baby. In the rain.

Well, we eventually get to Villa Tunari, and get a cab to take us exhausted, late at night, off into the jungle to our ecohotel, where discover that apparently part of being "eco" is not having any air conditioning. We survived one miserable sweltering night there but it was muy malo and so we ditched the rest of our booking and got a room for the next night at more traditional old-school hotel right in town and along the highway where all the normal middle-class Bolivians vacation.

So when new parents on AskMe question whether they'll be able to take a small road trip or survive a flight with their baby, I admit I roll my eyes a little.
posted by drlith at 8:45 AM on July 2, 2017 [14 favorites]

My mom has an FBI file on her.

My dad was always sort of a quiet sort about his work even though he was briefly famous because of it. He would allude to having some sort of cloak and dagger side hustles. When he was in the hospital once with a detached retina, he got a bouquet from the CIA and we never really figured it out.

I lived in Transylvania for a year with my (now ex) husband who I had married a few months earlier at a drive-up window in Las Vegas as a bit of an art prank. Our first kiss was at our wedding.

I can sort random piles of crap quicker than you can say "I should really clean the living room." I didn't think it was a talent but it turns out it's unusual.

I passed out at the wheel of a moving automobile on a highway back when I had (more of) a drug problem and wound up fine (and everyone else on the road did too). I have learned my lesson, in case you were curious. It's not really a talent, but maybe it is?

I probably have $200 worth of unused US postage in this house waiting to be put on letters and postcards. That's not a talent, it's just shopping I guess.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:48 AM on July 2, 2017 [9 favorites]

Hidden talents wise, my superpower is parallel parking. This is because I used to work in a neighborhood in Baltimore that was residential permit parking only. They would come through and chalk your tires to see if you'd been there more than two hours. Naturally the entire staff piled out the door every two hours to move their cars. A transferable job skill if ever there was one! In other talents I am a good cook with special abilities in making things up as I go along; I am a very good speller and I have a completely undeserved green thumb. I take terrible, neglectful care of my garden and house plants and they mostly thrive anyway.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:07 AM on July 2, 2017

Y'all are just so fascinating and fun! Oh sweet cabbage days, I'd love to share a house with the lot of you for a summer.
posted by barchan at 9:16 AM on July 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can yodel. I can also twirl guns. I've been ready for a decade for the return of singing cowboy movies.
posted by maxsparber at 9:19 AM on July 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

That feels like it would be a lot more surprising if my profile photo weren't currently an illustration of me in a cowboy hat.
posted by maxsparber at 9:21 AM on July 2, 2017

Long ago, I sang Gilbert and Sullivan in the Law School Light Opera's productions of The Gondoliers and The Sorcerer, despite neither being a law student nor knowing how to sing.

Yesterday my dog sniffed at a chicken bone on the street and chose not to pick it up!
posted by moonmilk at 9:24 AM on July 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Ooooh, forgot this one: I got Edgar Bergen out of bed once, the morning after being referenced in his nightclub act.

I was four years old, and this being back in the dark ages, the Florida hotel room I was in was the first time in my life I'd ever seen a push-button telephone (it was 1960, for cryin' our loud). I was sharing that room with all my siblings; our parents had the neighboring room. I'd woken up early, and I swear I was trying to behave and not wake up anyone..... so there I was, minding my own business, playing quietly by myself, singing very quietly while Mr. Toothbrush danced hop!hop!hop! on these funny buttons. Turns out I somehow called Edgar Bergen's room at something like 5am. Cut to a couple hours later, when my parents are apologizing; Mr. Bergen took it all pretty well --- he even had Charlie McCarthy out, right there in the hallway. I remember Charlie was about my size, and I really wanted to play with him, but all I could figure out was that A) I've screwed up somehow, although I had no idea how; and B) I'm just gonna freeze here, so I don't get in more trouble.

Turns out that was my parents' second apology to Mr. Bergen: in his nightclub act the evening before, he was making jokes about how the hillbilly family in the hotel room above his had apparently brought all their livestock on vacation with them..... our parents figured out pretty quickly who that was, and the whole bunch of us kids got told to stop running/stomping/jumping on the furniture.
posted by easily confused at 9:30 AM on July 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

Pjern, your stories reminded me of my favorite story about my grandfather while he was in the Air Force. Bear in mind this story has been passed on multiple times so details may be. . . dramatized, to put it politely. Anyway, he was stationed at an Air Force base in Morocco (or Algeria?) and either the base was closing or was being transferred to a new command/division, and everything was in a heightened state of disorganization. He was a mechanic, so he had access to all the planes.

SO apparently one night, like one of the very last nights there, he and some buddies got super blotto and stole a camel. There's pics of this, which I love. They thought it would be pretty funny to smuggle the camel onto base, so they stole a truck or something, made up a story to get on base, and were just going to let the camel loose to roam around the airfield or hangers.

But when they got to the hanger some cargo plane was about to take off. This is where the details get sketchy but apparently they managed to get the camel into a box on the plane before it took off on its way to Germany. At some point (the story goes) the pilots realized there was something in the back of the plane and when they landed they found the camel. (That pooooor camel!)

So the punchline of the story is, that's how the Berlin* Zoo got a camel.

There's all kinds of details about what happened when the pilots realized there was something alive in their plane, and what happened when they landed, but those are the parts of the story that seem the most like lies so I won't repeat them here.

*It may have been another city.
posted by barchan at 9:45 AM on July 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Another one is that I am kick-ass at pronouncing Irish names (from attending a college full of Irish Catholics), which comes up surprisingly often in the US just now and people are always amazed when you can pronounce (and/or spell) "Aoife" right on the first try.

My name is Róisín. Go. :)

I can unfailingly pick out the most expensive item in any shop. (Accidentally - I can never afford said items.)
I have really cold hands so I make great scones.
I can always find a parking space no matter how packed the street or car park is - I will always drive up just as someone is pulling out.
I'm really good at staying between the lines when I'm colouring in.
I asked my partner what he'd say as this list is shite, he said "Do I have to keep it clean?" I said yes. He said my sensitivity and empathy are superpower level. And also that I'm really good at hanging clothes on the washing line (I have a very specific system which he's not allowed to mess with.) And that I can drink heroic levels of gin and stay sober.
He also wanted me to point out that he can turn his eyelids inside out. I think he wins.
posted by billiebee at 10:02 AM on July 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

- I can get to sleep better than anyone I've met. It's literally two or three minutes between closing my eyes and being in a deep sleep and there's no amount of caffeine that can keep me up past midnight. I did zero all-nighters in grad school because I physically just can't do them; my brain just shuts down. I will probably die in a fire someday because no alarm will wake me up before 6AM.
posted by octothorpe at 10:38 AM on July 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh man, family shenanigans. My mom had six older brothers who were always in some sort of trouble. At one point they staged a shootout at a laundromat, complete with ketchup in bags (the "victims" slapped their hands where they were "shot" and "blood" came spurting out). I'm pretty sure the getaway car was the one that had been stripped of all gears except reverse, and had it's headlights switched around.

Mom always had to answer her teachers yes, she was one of those [Smiths].
posted by moira at 11:31 AM on July 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Hidden Talents: I can ride a recumbent bicycle (the kind that has a twitchy front wheel) with no hands. Didn't think it was possible on this particular recumbent, but riding around on a flevotrike (the frame has a joint and you steer with your legs) really helped.

I am really great at mimicking. There are lots of social circumstances in which if it were considered polite, I would LOVE to be mimicking people what/how people say things just because I enjoy doing it so much. Especially accents and other languages.

Odd Adventure: Due to assorted circumstances, me and my partner are in the middle of doing the full range of Classic Portland (Oregon) Living Situations this summer. Living with roommates, getting the traditional no-cause eviction so our live-in landlords can remodel, living outside, living in a new house we built.
posted by aniola at 11:38 AM on July 2, 2017

Whelp, based on a few disparate pieces of data (including an AskMe question from last week) I finally figured out how this whole Trump thing is going to shake out. My oddball talent is spotting trends or circumstances like this well before they happen.

Incidentally, is there any place anyone knows of where I can post this prediction? I'm confident enough that I want to go on record. I could text a bunch of friends, but I'm not trying to alienate anyone. Thanks.
posted by jbenben at 11:42 AM on July 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

about me: I have had 3 episodes of near-drowning.
I attended 12 years of Catholic education; I still have a complicated relationship with plaid.
I was once (very peripherally) hit by lightning.

not really hidden: I enjoy and am pretty good at International folk dancing.
I'm pretty good at whistling.
posted by theora55 at 11:42 AM on July 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

jbenben, post it here!
posted by gt2 at 12:03 PM on July 2, 2017

Luckily there was a sink in the back of the classroom, and my classmate was a discreet puker.

It. Does. Not. Count. If. You. Puke.

(I didn't puke.)
posted by escabeche at 12:09 PM on July 2, 2017

But not this thread; no politics in the metatalktail threads.
posted by Mitheral at 12:09 PM on July 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

jbenben, post it here!

Please don't. Just post it to Tumblr.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:04 PM on July 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I once drove backwards through the Brandenburg Gate. I once saw curtain Aurora Borealis, sleeping in a ditch outside of Arches National Park, in a March (others also saw this.) Someone once tried to kidnap me at knife point. I figured if I could get the car backed out and into first gear, I could terrify him out of his stupid plan, and that worked. Nothing like driving radically, the wrong way on a busy boulevard to rattle an idiot.
posted by Oyéah at 1:18 PM on July 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I drank a gallon of milk in four minutes.
It. Does. Not. Count. If. You. Puke.

(I didn't puke.)
posted by escabeche

escabeche, did you happen to catch the 2005 story about the Marlins batboy and the 'milk challenge'?
The Marlins suspended the unidentified batboy for the team's upcoming six-game homestand against the Cardinals and Mets from Aug. 28 through Sept. 4 for accepting the dare Sunday from Dodgers pitcher (and former Marlin) Brad Penny.

Penny offered the batboy $500 if he could drink a gallon of milk in less than an hour before Sunday's game without throwing up. Penny told the paper the boy drank the milk and didn't throw up, but didn't finish the gallon in the allotted time frame to win the dare.
Not an hour, but four minutes!

No one can say you don't have some really amazing guts.
posted by jamjam at 1:23 PM on July 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

The thing I've done that always strikes people as odd:

I have intentionally lowered a Picasso pencil drawing into a bucket of water until it was completely submerged.

Apprenticed to an art restorer at the time. We were de-acidifying the paper. This means you put the sheet into a bucket of distilled water and swish it around to wash the acid out (and then there are all kinds of tricks to make sure the paper dries completely flat and without weakening; don't try this at home). We had, of course, water-tested the pencil lines and Picasso's ink signature first, to make sure they wouldn't vanish.

The terrifying part was that, despite the water-testing, when we pulled the page out... no signature. The master restorer said reassuringly that this often happens, and that it would reappear when the paper dried.

Then we both spent six hours pacing up and down and biting our nails and pretending we were perfectly calm, waiting for the paper to dry. It was damn close to dry when the signature faded in again, as if by magic.

We both took the next day off, as recompense for the stress.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 1:32 PM on July 2, 2017 [25 favorites]

My oddest adventure occurred excitingly enough in December 1972 - I'm too lazy to dig up my first passport to check the exact date. I got to fly on the then British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Calcutta, India, ALL by MYSELF - I was 6 and half years old and I *still* remember bits of it so very clearly.

It was a middle of the night flight, with these two legs at odd hours - I'm guessing it was on the way from somewhere (Australia maybe?) to London, and these two stops were inbetweenies. Economy was completely empty but for me. I spent the night terrified yet surrounded by cooing airhostesses (that's what we called them back then). I can't remember the fear, it was more about being nervous and scared alone with all these tall fancy looking ladies asking me if I wanted some dinner and me saying no.

I do remember feeling very hungry when I reached my Grandfather's house, and my aunt made me a ham sandwich and put pepper on it. Yuck.

That was my Big Adventure. I didn't come back home to my parents until a whole year full of adventures, including two bouts of typhoid and a whole series of events that I still remember with a relative clarity that I don't have about my 8th year or my 6th year - 1973 was one of the watershed years of shaping me to be who I am, even today.

I'd walk with Grandpa, around his kitchen garden, after breakfast, while waiting for his white uniformed chauffeur with his peaked cap to show up and take me to school, and we'd visit the cow in the byre at the back - mind you this was in the heart of the city of Calcutta - and each morning I'd have to recite another sentence of the hymn (raghupati raghav raja ram *) that he'd teach me.

I often say that age 7 is when they lay down your positronic pathways, and I'm glad that it was a man who was known for his moral ethics (the meaning of my given name in sanskrit tbh) uprightness, character, and incisive intelligence who laid those early lessons down for me that year.

*Gandhi changed the words to include ishwar allah tere naam - Grandpa had been heavily influenced by Gandhi's teachings as were many others in their circles back in the day.
posted by infini at 1:37 PM on July 2, 2017 [9 favorites]

F/R T- 92%
MS- 73%
HS- 81%
HN- 68%
CW- 94%
RL- 12%
BS ×4

Age 11, I broke into the Ripleys in Ontario and took a time lapsed photo of me and waxy Charlie Chaplin. Still have the picture.

I rolled a joint with the estimated street value of 1500$ (charity event)

Made an ex CEO of Dow Chemical laugh so hard he spilled his drink. (Charity event)

Refuted a famous Mefis dissertation on the blue, still can't find that thread.

Played a practical joke on a vice president of these United States.

I can explain the Julio-Claudian family tree.

I once asked Gwendolyn Brooks out for coffee.

I could drive a Chevette with no hands.

Cats and dogs love me but I suspect it is the food.

I suspect the word 'food' sounds odd to non English speaking people.
posted by clavdivs at 2:11 PM on July 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have kissed director and screenwriter Abraham Polonsky.

I used to go to the San Francisco International Film Festival every year, and one year they were screening Polonsky's classic Force of Evil (I'm pretty sure it was a Martin Scorsese-sponsored remaster, but I wouldn't swear to that), and Polonsky was going to be at the screening, signing copies of a new critical edition of the screenplay. So I bought my copy of the book and got in line for the signing, and when it was my turn, I told Mr. Polonsky that I greatly admired his refusal to testify before the HUAC, and asked if I could give him a kiss on the cheek.

He took my book and said "I'll sign it twice if you give me two."

The inscription reads:

For Kristi
Abraham Polonsky
Abraham Polonsky
Kisses delivered

posted by kristi at 2:43 PM on July 2, 2017 [7 favorites]

I have been shot at six times, but only hit twice. My shins still occasionally bleed from the first of these six incidents, even though it was several decades ago, now.

A photograph I took, of a beach on the island in the Outer Hebrides I lived on, was used by a tourist board in Thailand to advertise one of its beaches. Various media outlets picked up on this. When I complained to the tourist board, hoping for an apology or maybe a discount holiday or something, I got a load of abuse back and a warning that on entering Thailand I would be arrested.

I told the Queen to her face that she smelled of poo.

I have gone for a swim in four of the Great Lakes; just Lake Superior to go.

Because of the many famous people who bought things from our family farmshop due to its location in South Worcestershire on the edge of the Cotswolds, I'm at ease with celebrities, politicians and the like. My favorites were Robert Plant (he showed me how to play air guitar; I was about eight) who bought pickled onions or walnuts, can't remember which, and Pam Ayres who bought marmalade. Kate Bush also bought some strawberries once and, as it wasn't busy, we had a chat about the clouds floating overhead.

I was expelled from the first two schools I went to. The first time for burying all of the math textbooks in the sandpit (I did not like math at the time), the second time for setting fire to the school building (I did not like school dinners). At "big school" later on in childhood, I was suspended several times for various things e.g. replacing all the prayer books in the school chapel with copies of The Origin of Species.

When I lived in the Outer Hebrides, my broadband did not work at low tide. There was a technical reason for this, though the real reason was that the broadband system was a barely-legal scam. Journalists loved the story; I hated the ongoing situation and moved (though for a combination of other reasons as well).

I have nearly caused crashes in both a balloon and a crop-spraying helicopter as I occasionally get an odd confusion between up and down. Also, I have been in seven car accidents (always the passenger), one partial crash landing of a small plane, one combine harvester crash into a duckpond (due to MetaFilter), two coach crashes, one time the school bus caught fire, one boat sinking, one kayak holing, and (worst and most serious of all) one tractor roll. I like travel.

My first memory, hazy but still a memory, is of the television being on, lots of excited adults being in the room, and me getting caught up in it but not knowing what was going on (Apollo 11 landing on the moon).

Through various actions I've had an outsized influence on two national elections; one good, one catastrophically bad. Something for another time, maybe, due to mixed feelings and repercussions.

There used to be two adders - the only poisonous animal in the UK - just beyond the bottom of our garden, in the shade of the treeline. I used to gently play with them when I was young. They seemed harmless.

A famous English female author of aristocratic novels whispered something unambigously extremely explicit to me while we were both waiting for the local stray dog kenneling fete to open. I froze and did not know how to react (was 19 and I had to look up two of the words in a dictionary in the public library the next day, so still an innocent farmboy). She then cut the ribbon (that's not a metaphor - she was there to open the event) and moved on. It's not my biggest "What if..." regret, but it's one I come back to regularly. I am still bewildered by the whole thing and why me, especially as she moved in much higher circles.

The highest number of - and this bit is important - STILL VALID public library cards I have owned at the same time is fourteen, from four different countries. At the moment it is sadly just three, all from the same part of England.

I have a phobia of nuns. My worst journey was on a train in Ireland to Sligo. Trains were slow then and took a long time. I got the only remaining seat in the carriage. Every other seat in the carriage was occupied by a nun. There was no conversation the whole trip. (side point: when they travel, nuns eat a lot of citrus fruit and never make eye contact with you, or offer you any)

The most profound, and oft-accurate, words of wisdom I've heard was from an old man who lived in a tiny cottage in the Outer Hebrides, the walls of which were lined and stacked with thousands of books. His words, which I've thought about especially these last few years, were:

"Everything in life is low-level information warfare."

After reading much philosophy and other texts for several years, and investigating many religions and science, I came to the inevitable conclusion that the meaning and purpose of life itself simply reduced down to:

"Do the best you can."

Seriously, don't spend a chunk of your life trying to figure it out. It's nothing more than that.

The Queen incident: I was three.
posted by Wordshore at 4:04 PM on July 2, 2017 [34 favorites]

I have always had an ability to go places people claim are dangerous for people like me without incident of any sort. There are many possible explanations for that.

I've only been attempted-mugged one time, in the not-particularly-dangerous Haight. When I said I didn't have any money (which was true at the moment), the mugger took my word for it and we just kind of hung out for a bit and had a smoke. Minutes after we parted, my buddy returned from the ATM with cash for both of us.
posted by ctmf at 4:35 PM on July 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

"My name is Róisín. Go. :) "


I once had a man declared dead.

I am awesome at optimizing processes for maximum efficiency. I sort-of wish someone had told me this was an actual job field when I was in high school because I would have made different choices in college! As it stands, I just go volunteer for a local charity and end up completely reorganizing their office supply cabinet and then setting up a letter fold-and-stuff system that's twice as fast as what they were doing before. Or whatever.

Babies and dogs love me, but I'm pretty sure it's actually because of my eyebrows ... studies suggest that babies (who are learning how faces work) and dogs (who are not human) rely more than adult humans do on the eyebrows, to help direct them to the eyes of the face and to help them interpret facial expressions, and I have very striking eyebrows. So it's sort-of like my superpower, that my face is particularly legible to dogs and babies and they love to stare at me. (It just occurs to me, maybe this is also why strangers so often strike up conversations with me on public transit and tell me their weird-ass secrets? Is it that my eyebrows make me look trustworthy to their subconscious?)

Since I don't have the chance to do it very often these days, my bass-playing has become a hidden talent, and people who've only known me since I started having kids are invariably amazed when we're out at a local jazz concert and I know some of the people and I get invited to sit in for a song and everyone's like "WAIT WHEN DID YOU LEARN TO DO THAT????"

Performing in a play makes me so anxious I throw up, but I absolutely adore public speaking, I think it's great fun. Just not acting!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:56 PM on July 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

I've done nothing special in life except love well and unreservedly.

Out of the ordinary experience would be that I've raised two orphaned foals. (One was the very first foal I ever met - crash course in learning.)

I taught myself how to understand algebra in what my husband (an engineer) claimed was the most unusual but creative of understandings.

I can paint, sculpt, enerringly find my way scuba diving (yo, stuff looks different underwater), sew tailored suits, shoot a gun, drive a tractor, and listen emphatically to friends whine and complain without offering unsolicited advice.
posted by mightshould at 5:03 PM on July 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I can moonwalk forward, but only if I crouch down so that my calf muscles are touching my hamstrings, and then snap, one foot plants and the other is up, then snap the other foot scoots forward, plants and the other rests.

I don't just mean that I can do it, but I can do that faster than most people can walk.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:42 PM on July 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have had 3 episodes of near-drowning.

I'm in that club too. Builds character they say.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:48 PM on July 2, 2017

I pulled someone from a burning car once.

OK, it's more accurate to say the car was smoking out of the hood and had an orange glow coming from underneath it. I pounded on the window in a panic to wake the driver up. He was groggy, dazed or drunk from the fumes, I dunno. He unlocked his door and got out, so no search for a rock was required. My roommate and I helped him out and steadied him over away to where we'd parked.

The part I remember best is leaving the dude in the care of my roommate, to run off into the exurban subdivision we had just passed in search of a phone. It was like 3:00am and the houses were far apart. It took five houses for someone to come to their door, and I became aware I was a weird-looking teenager, sweaty and panicked, and felt really awkward about asking to come in and use the phone. I wondered if I'd used the exact words from A Clockwork Orange on accident. The woman who answered the door said I couldn't come in, but she would call the fire department, and I said, "Genius!" and hurried off.

On my way back my roommate met me in the car. The fire truck had shown up and taken over. Probably they were already on their way when the person I'd talked to called. As we passed the burning car on the way back, though, it was full-ass up in flames, and so I think maybe we did save the guy's life? Maybe. I like to think so.
posted by fleacircus at 6:45 PM on July 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Man, I am B-O-O-O-O-O-R-I-N-G compared to you guys!! None of my adventures have been very odd, and the closest thing I have to a hidden talent is that I've never gotten stage fright. No idea why, it's just never happened.

Not sure if this counts, but I can play multiple instruments ...all badly! (ba-dum, tissshhhh). Actually I've played bass (guitar and upright), trumpet, and sax well enough to be in bands and perform in front of people; and I can play most brass instruments with some amount of facility though not well enough to consider performing on them in public.

I've also completely rebuilt a VW motor - with the help of Compleat Idiot, Haynes, and Bentley manuals laid out in front of me - and when I was done it ran even better than it did before. I kind of miss my beetle/bus-owning days...only a bit, though.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:09 PM on July 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have shaken the hand of every President since George H W Bush. I have had a beer with Bill Clinton. I was at the bar of a restaurant near where the Clinton's live waiting to meet a date for dinner when I man walked up behind me and asked if his takeout order was ready. I knew I knew that voice! Turned around and it was Bill Clinton. Apparently he stops on the way home there for takeout fairly regularly. The seat next to me was empty as I was holding it for my date. I blurted out, "Mr. President, can I buy you a beer while you wait?" He said something along the lines of, "As long as you don't tell my wife." I got to ask him one question before his food arrived. "What do you miss most about being President?" His response was a terrific blow off of a response. "The M&Ms on Air Force One" was his answer.

I literally bumped into and knocked over Phil Lesh in the Woodlands Market outside of Ross in Marin County. When I looked down at him and realized it was Phil, I could not stop apologizing and thanking him for the music.
posted by AugustWest at 7:12 PM on July 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

Bob Weir once sang a song to me at a Dead concert. It was disconcerting to my boyfriend.
posted by Oyéah at 8:13 PM on July 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Here's a video of me during the first ever night-time barricade of an F-14. I'm one of the people running to the left at about two minutes into the video.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:17 PM on July 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Once I dreamed most of the cheats to Jazz Jackrabbit 2, along with reasonably detailed descriptions of what they did. It provided me with no knowledge of how to actually input them so I mused on this until I tried typing them in on the keyboard.

While it seems likely I had read them somewhere, I recall a deep puzzlement about what was going on when discovering they worked. It's odd enough to dream of something so specific.
posted by solarion at 11:06 PM on July 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Want to try yeast waffles and pancakes some time.

The Toad, drop everything and start these waffles tonight. Not joking.

Hidden talents:

I bake the only decent bagels in Anchorage, Alaska.

I run. I don't have a body that much looks like I run, so you'd never guess, and I'm not fast, but I can bang out pretty much infinite 10ish minute miles.

I can name pretty much any native wildflower in Alaska (helps to have a limited set!). I started learning reluctantly from a friend who used flowers as an excuse to stop and take a breather on hikes when another friend clearly needed it. She insisted I learn one per hike and gave quizzes to ensure comprehension and active listening during the lesson (we're all teachers). She has since died and now when I hike with others I do the same. It was her birthday the other day and I always think of this poem around this time of year:

For the Children

The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us,
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light.

~Gary Snyder
posted by charmedimsure at 11:37 PM on July 2, 2017 [13 favorites]

One of my hidden talents is that I can move my eyes independently (in very limited circumstances, I have to start with them crossed), which I have used in many situations with small children who are restless and need to be amused.

I can do this as well, and also inherited from my mother the ability to make my eyeballs vibrate sideways at quite high speed.
posted by flabdablet at 3:39 AM on July 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:54 AM on July 3, 2017

I pretty much have no special talents other than healing. Myself, not others, sadly. I heal really quickly. To the point where the two times I've had surgery I had minor complications arising from healing too much or too quickly.

I've opened a stage ahead of some fairly big Danish bands (Johnny Madsen, Gnags) at a medium sized regional festival with a band thrown together less than two weeks before.

I've dug several graves (or rather, supervised a fellow with a digger while I jumped in and out, shoring up the hole with boards and extracting bones that hadn't fully decomposed in order to bury them at the bottom of the completed hole before the new casket goes in). It's hard work, especially if it rains before filling them back in with just a shovel.
posted by Dysk at 4:09 AM on July 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was an all-state mime in high school.

A picture of me appeared on the Regis and Kelly show along with a box of cupcakes I frosted. Ryan Seacrest mocked me because I didn't know who he was.

The only piece of music I've actually made royalties on was a string quartet that became mildly popular in Ukraine.
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:37 AM on July 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

I can do this as well, and also inherited from my mother the ability to make my eyeballs vibrate sideways at quite high speed.

Do you do this by pulling something backwards behind your eyes? Because that is how I do it. I mean that I move something behind my eyes backwards, like when you can wiggle your scalp to move your hair, but this is inside your head.
posted by koolkat at 8:28 AM on July 3, 2017

I seem to have an uncanny ability to get malaria! Greetings from the hospital, where I am getting tested to see whether i havemy third bout!
posted by ChuraChura at 8:44 AM on July 3, 2017 [12 favorites]

I once spent six months with a 2000-year-old femur in a box under my desk.

A few years ago, I spent the summer practicing my peach pie, and now I make a really awesome peach pie. Also cake, muffins, breads, etc. I'm hoping to practice some pastry this summer.

I once did a keg stand with an award-winning SF author, and I have gone to the farmer's market with N. K. Jemisin.

I wrote an unauthorized sequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (aka fanfiction), which is the most popular thing I've ever written and will probably outlast me, reputation-wise.
posted by suelac at 10:59 AM on July 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

*hoists a gin and tonic (sans gin) to ChuraChura*
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:01 AM on July 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

At Cheeburger Cheeburger in Kendall FL, I got my polaroid on the wall (and a glass of single-malt scotch from a friend) for eating their 'pounder' burger (actually 21 oz). Mine was rare with bacon and blue cheese.
posted by jonmc at 11:02 AM on July 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

So since we're allowed to brag here. . . as part of a study I once took one of those intelligence tests that measure different kinds of intelligence, and scored so high in a particular area I was told the test couldn't actually measure it as it was written. (Although for the record, I also scored quite poorly in other areas!) As a result I'm regularly contacted by intelligence researchers to do things for them! While that by itself is kind of cool in its own way, as a scientist myself I'm much more excited about being able to help the science along and actually see it progressing in real time. One of the things they're super interested in is if my ability's innate, developed, or both, and the things they have me do are just fascinating.

barchan, I'm curious, what was the area (if you are willing to share)?
posted by aka burlap at 11:09 AM on July 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I seem to have an uncanny ability to get malaria!

I'm not a professional doctor, but I have a theory as to the origin of your ability.
posted by Etrigan at 11:09 AM on July 3, 2017

I can eat fire.
I survived anaphylactic shock and scarlet fever.
I am shockingly flexible.
I went snorkeling off the coast of Alaska.
I was in an airplane that landed so hard that all of the oxygen masks dropped.
I was driving a Ford Explorer along Old Richardson Highway (Alaska) and a tire popped and the truck rolled. They used the jaws of life to get me out, I was lifeflyted to Anchorage and I almost lost my left hand because it was outside the car during the rollover and they thought I might have had compartment syndrome. I was most scared of never being able to knit again.
I am a really, really good baker.

I think that's enough of my interesting life for now.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:30 PM on July 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I make pie. Really good apple pie and pretty good pie in general. The secret is that pie is not difficult. Apples don't take all that long to peel. All I had to do to be known in my family as an amazing pie baker is make pie a couple times. I live in Maine and New Englanders don't eat cherry pie. My sour cherry tree is full of nearly ripe cherries, so I will have cherry pie soon. 1st pie from my own tree.
posted by theora55 at 1:59 PM on July 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

(it's malaria again, but I realized I had malaria early enough that they didn't admit me to the hospital, just sent me home with medication)
posted by ChuraChura at 2:53 PM on July 3, 2017 [8 favorites]

At least your talent for getting malaria is matched by a talent for recognizing that you have malaria early enough to avoid hospitalization!
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:58 PM on July 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

I was expelled from the first two schools I went to. The first time for burying all of the math textbooks in the sandpit (I did not like math at the time), the second time for setting fire to the school building (I did not like school dinners). At "big school" later on in childhood, I was suspended several times for various things e.g. replacing all the prayer books in the school chapel with copies of The Origin of Species.

I like you very much, Wordshore.
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:19 PM on July 3, 2017 [6 favorites]

I learned to skate when I was five, so I can skate almost better than I can walk. I played hockey when I was a kid, up until I was about twelve when I took off my skate one day and found my sock was soaked in blood. Turned out I had a tumor in my left big toe. They cut it out and it wasn't malignant, but they had to take half that toe when they did, so if I'm in flip flops, you might notice, but in the four decades since I've kinda pounded it flat.

So I didn't go back to hockey or skating, but I know how to skate. I just know. I never told my first wife and then one day, on a December afternoon, we rented skates at a nearby lake and went skating. She told me it was like finding out your spouse could play jazz piano.

I couldn't throw as a kid, so I liked hockey a lot. I learned to skate so young because when I was little, they'd build a little rink near our house and I could walk there to skate whenever I wanted. I didn't try to get good at it, I just did it a lot. I was actually kind of a chunky kid, and skating was really the only thing I did that you might consider at all athletic.

My dad was an Ex-Special Forces, Green Beret, and he wanted me to be tough like him. I tried, but I really didn't last more than a month in little league, or park district football. But I liked to skate, so he also put me in hockey. And I wasn't great, but because I could skate, I didn't suck.

I liked hockey. Not so much for the winning, but because I liked my teammates. The year before the tumor ended my career, I played with a girl and a little kid, and we kicked ass and went to state. Louann was the first girl the park district let play with the boys, and I loved playing with her because she was very funny and very good. And the little kid, Chico, was a prodigy. He was eight, three years younger than the rest of us, but he could skate like a cheetah and shoot like a sniper, and could make hilarious jokes and was great at voices. I loved playing with them. As a team, we were great, and we loved trying to crack each other up. It was way better than real sports.

The worst time I ever had playing hockey was one game when the kid who played our goalie didn't show up, and they asked me to play goalie, even though I had never played goalie ever. I let ten shots go through me and cried all the way home and seriously thought I wouldn't come back the following week.

But the best time I ever had was when I finally did something right in the eyes of my dad. Chico and Louann were kind of well known and other teams often targeted them. Chico played center and Louann his right wing, and they were so in sync it was beauty to behold. Neither cared who scored, so they'd pass it back and forth in front of the net until one of them found a hole. And oddly enough I had a role in all this. Because Chico was small and Louann a girl they frequently received undue attention from the opposing teams, attention that came in the form of abuse. They were picked on, constantly roughed up. And I'd either play left wing or right defense and my raison d'être was to protect them. They even called me The Protector and sang the lyrics of local TV commercial for a basement sealing service that went by the same name whenever I entered the locker room. We were best of buds, even though they were the ones with all the talent, but since I kept the other team off them, they were grateful for me and treated me like an equal.

So my favorite game wasn't winning state, or the time we beat those rich Dallas pricks who all had the same warm-up tracksuits and equipment bags and fucking cowboy hats, and came to play us on a jet that belonged to one of the kids' dad, no the best game was the one where I finally made my dad proud by getting him fired by one of his clients.

See, it was a tight game, and Chico and Louann were being brilliant as always, but the other team was onto them and was clearly intentionally targeting them. The typical response to grace and skill seemed to be violence. I was trying to keep up and keep the opposing players off of them, but they were out of control.

Finally, after two of the opposing team players were in the penalty box for spearing and hooking, their center, away from the action, slams Chico into the boards. It was beyond the play and the refs didn't see it, but I saw it out of the corner of my eye and it pissed me off. I left my position on the line and headed straight for him, not when he had the puck, but just a full force fuck-you slam right into the boards, and he crumpled to the ice. "Stop picking on him, Asshole, understand?"

Eventually, they had to take him off the ice on and to the nurse's station to check for a concussion. As his father left the rink he yelled to my father that he was never doing business with him again. Turns out his dad was a client of my dad. "You're son's a fucking animal. He doesn't belong on the ice, he belongs in a cage."

I was kind of worried that my dad was going to be mad at me in the car ride on the way home, but he wasn't. He just beamed. His sissy, fagot, nerd, fat, always-reading, pacifist, never gonna be a Green Beret, son had finally done something right. I felt kind of bad about it, but the kid was being a bully. But it was also great to finally get a positive notice from my Dad, even if it was silent, and even if it did cost him business. And without even asking, I got two Egg McMuffins for breakfast on the way home. So yeah, I can skate pretty well. Still like to go on my birthday, just to feel it all come back, and to do something as well as I could do when I was a kid.
posted by Stanczyk at 7:50 PM on July 3, 2017 [21 favorites]

Do you do this by pulling something backwards behind your eyes?

Not so much. I defocus, then do something that feels like trying to cross them and stop them from crossing at the same time.
posted by flabdablet at 9:13 PM on July 3, 2017

Why not just pile out every two hours and erase the chalk mark?
posted by Meatbomb at 3:02 AM on July 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I received a dishonorable discharge from a religious school halfway through the third grade.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:07 AM on July 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

Laziness is my superpower. I live in the house laziness bought. also I can stealth whistle.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:09 AM on July 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've ridden a bicycle in Antarctica.

I figure I may as well try to ride a bike of every continent since I've got the hardest out of the way. I'm up to 4, and am greatly regretting not asking to have a go on the risksaw when I was in India, coz it could have been 5.
posted by kjs4 at 6:31 AM on July 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

Meatbomb: "Why not just pile out every two hours and erase the chalk mark?"

In areas where this is an issue the chalk mark is just a speed technique; the enforcement agent often makes notes of which car was where as well. If you don't juggle your car around not only will the enforcement agent remember your car, the people (who can't park in front of their own house because of the long term business parking) will phone enforcement and complain complete with pictures in some cases.
posted by Mitheral at 7:35 AM on July 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Why not just pile out every two hours and erase the chalk mark?

It's harder than you think to get all of a chalk mark off a street. More so to get one off a tire.
posted by Etrigan at 7:53 AM on July 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

A dirty tire with one clean area, right where the chalk mark would go, might look a tad suspect.

The last parking ticket I got, they took a digital photo to prove the car was parked illegally. I don't know how common that is, but it would make it harder to pull off the erasing trick.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:19 AM on July 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

They don't do the whole "no return within x hours" thing then? Because moving your car with the chalk mark still on the tire would be a dead giveaway...
posted by Dysk at 8:22 AM on July 4, 2017

I'm really good at harmonizing on the fly. Not perfect, just really good. I can hear the whole chord in my head and find a note that fits into the chord and is not the melody note. (I can tell you whether I'm on the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 2nd, etc but I have to think about it). If I'm hanging out with other people singing and someone else takes the melody and the song is a standard ABAB with lots of repetition I will switch from alto to inverted tenor etc to keep from getting bored. People have asked me how I do it and I don't have a good explanation beyond "when I hit the right notes my head buzzes in a really nice way." But there are some songs that I don't feel lend themselves to harmonies, and I have trouble finding a good line on them ... not sure why.

I can tell whether I'm going to be attracted to someone by the smell of their sweat. People I'm not into smell a bit sour, people I'm into smell sort of earthy. I wish I had become a biologist so I could study myself.
posted by bunderful at 8:22 AM on July 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

Dysk: "They don't do the whole "no return within x hours" thing then? Because moving your car with the chalk mark still on the tire would be a dead giveaway..."

You have to move your car a couple blocks away.
posted by Mitheral at 12:18 PM on July 4, 2017

I save lives for a living, but my real talent is saving souls.

Also, I can drive and park a 68 VW bus anywhere in San Francisco like nobody's business.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:28 PM on July 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

I might have told some of these stories before....

* The year I was a junior counselor at my summer camp, I knew I was probably going to have some kind of issue to contend with. But I was expecting something like a kid who was homesick or two girls getting into a fight or something. Instead, I got an outbreak of mass hysteria when my cabin full of 8 eleven-year-olds became convinced that a ghost was going to appear to them precisely at midnight one night and got themselves wound up to the point that they were too scared to fall asleep. Oh, and it was the senior counselor for my cabin's night off.

After consulting with another senior counselor, we farmed them out to other cabins for the night, and two other junior counselors came to stay in the cabin with me so that when my senior counselor came home they would be there to back me up and explain, "So, there's a reason the cabin is empty...."

* I was invited to be part of Malachy McCourt's entourage one night in Dublin. We'd worked together on a play years before (he was in the cast, I was an intern assisting the playwright), and I was attending a play there and he recognized me in the audience before he started and invited me to hang with him after the show. When he and his co-star were about to head out to a radio station for a late-night live show they were doing, he said "hell with it, come with us" and I rolled up to the station with them and everyone there just sort of shrugged and said "okay, we don't know who she is but whatever". I ended up sitting in the control booth with the producer, splitting a bottle of Merlot with her and talking about different broadcast standards and practices.

* David Tennant teased me about jet lag once.

* I once had a case of Schroedingers' Strep Throat - I had all the symptoms, but tested negative for the actual virus. The doctor and I, after having a conversation that consisted of a lot of "Huh."'s and "uh...."s, decided that well, I was feeling better by that point, so let's just call that a win.

* I once won a raffle thrown by a burlesque team in New York; you entered by signing up for their mailing list. The prize was a VIP free ticket the following week, with the entire cast standing in as your "date". I was at the show with my then-boyfriend, and when they announced my name, I don't think they were expecting to see a woman stand up to claim the prize, with a man in the audience laughing hysterically and shouting "THERE IS A GOD!" the whole while she was accepting it.

(The boyfriend and I both went back the following week. The "date" business consisted of them having written out a pre-scripted "conversation" for me to have with each member of the troupe over the course of an evening, and every so often one of them would come sit with me and they'd give me the mike to say something. We told them my boyfriend was my attorney, like with Hunter S. Thompson in Vegas.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:03 PM on July 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

Sadly, I just learned that a somewhat estranged but still blood cousin passed at 29 of what look like drug related causes. A few months back a kid I used to babysit does under similar circumstances. And a few years back a guy I used to play with as a kid killed himself when the swat team invaded his house undes similarly sordid circumstances.

Shit, you get to a certain age and wind up with a shitload of this kind of stuff in your rear view mirror.
posted by jonmc at 4:22 PM on July 4, 2017

When I was a kid, we met Steve Kerr's sister in the brass rubbing center in Cambridge (which is in a round church that does not look particularly round from the outside and was somewhat difficult to find as a result). There was exactly one other person there with their children, so naturally my mother starts talking to her. It will be a long time before something beats "My brother plays for the Bulls" as the most interesting response to someone finding out you live in Chicago. Of course, I had to be summoned to hear this information repeated because my mother had heard of exactly no one who played for the Bulls besides possibly Michael Jordan.
posted by hoyland at 4:22 PM on July 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Harlan Ellison threatened my life once. That's not especially unique, in the book trade, but this was over $.50.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:26 PM on July 4, 2017 [11 favorites]

My airport performs emergency readiness drills occasionally, and I signed up to be a "volunteer victim" at the last one. We were all given triage cards and told to ham it up, "the firefighters love it!" So I was a walking wounded with a injured leg, and I got a firefighter to assist me across the ramp to an ambulance. (First and only time I have ever ridden in one, incidentally.)

The best(?) part of the whole experience, though, was shortly after we began. They had staged us all around a training airplane they use specifically for these kinds of exercises, so we're all hanging out on the tarmac around this plane carcass. And then one of the airport fire trucks shows up, lights and sirens going... and as it's pulling up I'm watching the driver who has the biggest shit-eating grin on his face, and the water cannon suddenly comes to life and points at us. They emptied that truck on to us in about 90 seconds, and then pulled up a supplemental water tanker, hooked it up to the fire truck, and did it again.

We were later told that the water was not part of the plan. Most of us held our ground, and I'm glad I left my phone in the car. Some of the medics got to do some actual work as this exercise was in October and a few people got pretty cold.

Other stupid plane tricks... I won first place in a flying simulator competition in college. I've taken one of our tiny Cessnas in to a couple of major airports (Philly most recently) which is always interesting - once at Providence I was told "just park between the two MD-80s". I used to work the line at my old airport in high school and that provided a ton of stories, including a couple of crashes (no injuries, thankfully), dealing with State Police helicopters, and one time the whole area flooded and I was the only one who could make it in to work.

I have only been seriously convinced I was going to die in an airplane once, and I genuinely hope that number does not increase.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:09 PM on July 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

I once sang Happy Birthday to a friend in a crowded restaurant, in such fashion that the restaurant fell into a hush halfway through and erupted in applause when I was done.

as for hidden talents: I have voluntary nystagmus. When my daughter was eight, she aspirated a sunflower seed still in its shell; due to the paramedics promising us that she had swallowed it, we didn't get to the hospital to have it removed for a week, and her lung collapsed while we were in the ER being evaluated. Once they realized her lung had collapsed (the word of the day is "atelectasis"), everything sprung into the kind of well-coordinated high gear that is both reassuring and terrifying, and they put a pretty big IV into her arm. (Originally I was like "why did they put in such a big IV?!" and then a nurse friend explained to me "well if shit's going to go sideways they really don't want to be trying to save her life through some tiny little needle in her hand" and I was like "oh.") Well, see, my kid is scared of needles, and she promptly lost her cool for the only time in this entire experience since she'd originally inhaled the damn seed. So I grabbed her head and forced her around to look at me.

"DON'T LOOK AT THE NEEDLE!" I yelled. "Look at me! LOOK AT THE COOL THING I CAN DO WITH MY EYES." And then I did the eye wobble thing.

"What the heck, Mom!!" said Lily. "I didn't know you could do that!!"

"I know," I said. "I was saving it for something like this."

"See, now, that's what I call planning for the long game," said my sweet second grader.

Anyway, she was fine, they got the seed out in a procedure which the surgeon memorably described as being "like trying to get a marble out of a garbage disposal using a pair of salad tongs," and I learned a valuable lesson about keeping some tricks in reserve.
posted by KathrynT at 10:17 PM on July 4, 2017 [12 favorites]

voluntary nystagmus

Yet again MeFi unearths the official name for a thing I have! I love this place.
posted by flabdablet at 10:52 PM on July 4, 2017

Like flabdablet I also now have a name for my weird eye thing.

As far as my hidden talent I have an uncanny nose. As in I can smell things and identify them.

It doesn't sound that amazing until you understand that I mean that I can identify the concentration of an ethanol water solution by smell alone, within a few percentage points. When I was a TA in a lab people did an experiment that was essentially the distillation of ethanol. You had to measure the density of the distillate to determine the concentration of ethanol in the final product. People were coming up to me asking whether they did a good job with the distillation and I just smelled the distillate and said yeah that is about 90%, or nope that is only like 73% and was within +/- 3% each time.

Also when I was a TA students were given a mixture of 3 unknown compounds that they had to separate and identify. Without fail I could simply smell their sample and tell them the three classes of compounds and what separation technique to try, or even identify exactly what compounds were present with a good sniff. A lot of the students noted my abilities on the evaluation form, the best was: "His nose is uncanny" which is why I always say I have an uncanny nose.

This doesn't mean that I have an excellent sense of smell. I lived in a house once that was visited to get a gas safe certificate by a complete cowboy of a gas engineer. When he left there was a slow very minor gas leak, but the house smelled a bit. I didn't think ti smelt too bad so I thought it was just a bit of residue left over from installing something. I turned on the lights and nothing happened, but when my girlfriend came over she made me call the gas leak people because of the smell. Left to my own devices I probably would have just lived with it because I've become desensitised to the thiol smells from working in a lab.
posted by koolkat at 1:35 AM on July 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


- I spent 3.5 years in northern Saskatchewan building high voltage power lines. This involved either a) flying to and from work every day in helicopters (in the following birds: Hughes 500, Bell 206J/L, Bell 407, Bell 205, Bell 212, Eurocopter AS350 B2 [aka "AStar"]--I've fallen asleep in all of them except the 500) or b) driving up to 300km a day on a makeshift, single-lane winter road that passed through the world's largest uranium refining facility, and included ice roads across lakes, hills so steep we had to be towed up by bulldozers, having to drive in reverse almost half a kilometer to get out of the way of heavy equipment, etc. Temperatures reached as low as -54C in the winter.

- I've done a number of things in the helicopters I wasn't technically supposed to do (touch-and-go loading/unloading on precarious terrain, which I technically wasn't trained for) which may count as adventure-y, BUT I did get to watch a wolverine stalk two caribou across a frozen lake from the air. It is so rare to see a wolverine in the wild at all, never mind one that's hunting, this was basically like winning the lottery while being struck by lightning.

- As a teenager I was once dragged 6 blocks by a half-ton truck doing 70km through the streets of my hometown. I was clinging tenaciously to the tailgate. My pants and shoelaces effectively vanished below the knees from the friction of the asphalt, but I was unharmed. It was my fault, don't ask.


- I used to be able to find any information online. Like, anything. It also comes with the caveat that I will sometimes find things I'm not looking for, and probably shouldn't see. I once accidentally came across adoption records while trying to look up someone's phone number (that they had given me but I had lost). That was a "delete without reading" situation. This has atrophied somewhat after years in the bush without reliable Internet.

- I have superhuman patience, but only so long as I'm being paid. I can (and have had to) stand and wait for a solid 10-16 hours just to do forty seconds of work. I can do this seven days a week for weeks at a time, for years, and not really get antsy or bored or whatever.
posted by Fish Sauce at 7:23 AM on July 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

So, after they bug your phone and listen in on your private phone calls as part of a wider investigation, the FBI later - after all the arrests have been made - sends you a nice letter explaining that they did so and what authority they had to do so.

That's my, um, random fact about myself of the day.
posted by vacapinta at 9:35 AM on July 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

This thing on? pff pff pat pat pat . . .

Odd Adventures
  • I committed my first federal crime at age 5. (I know, Trevor Noah has me beat by five years.)
  • I've been blown up by terrorists (IRA, 1974).
  • I've attempted to sell bibles door-to-door in rural Missouri and Kansas while Paper Moon was playing in US cinemas.
  • I've had a guy hold a gun to my head and say "Open the safe".
  • I used to climbed 300+ foot radio towers for money.
  • I've hitchhiked a ride on a canoe. (While hiking the path along the river, I persuaded a passing pair of attractive and under-dressed canoeists to take me along.)
  • I've hitchhiked a ride in a racing car (a 1970 Dodge Super Bird. We topped 180 mph on a two-lane in rural Kansas).
  • I've found a message in a bottle floating in the ocean. (It hadn't traveled far enough, so I threw it back.)
  • I've been stranded on a desert isle. (I un-stranded myself by wading the few hundred yards back to the main island, with the tide rolling in.)
  • I've exceeded 100 mph driving an air-cooled VW.
  • I've effected engine repairs on a moving vehicle (VW Squarebacks had a trapdoor).
  • I was a 'professional' plasma donor (for $, twice a week, every week) for a while in the 1970s.
  • I've ridden a bicycle over a cliff.
  • I've been rear-ended by a car while riding my bicycle.
  • I've had a close encounter -- nose to nose -- with a bear in the woods.
  • I've been arrested while nude. (Well -- ticketed, not technically arrested.)
  • On the other hand, I've been cuffed and stuffed in the back of a squad car (fully clothed this time) -- and talked my way out of it.
  • I once shared an elevator with Muhammad Ali.
  • I once participated in what we now call gaslighting Harlan Ellison. He's not a good sport.
Hidden Talents
I was born with a familiar face. In any sufficiently large US city, I will at least daily be informed by a stranger that I look "just like [famous person] or [old acquaintance]", or be actually mistaken for Joe, Tom, Pete, Al . . . Since I have always worn a beard, I guess that makes me some kind of universal evil twin. Have yet to find a way to monitize.

= = =

I can close a book -- fiction or non-fiction -- and later, without a bookmark, return to the exact place in the text I left off. I don't memorize page numbers. It's some kind of visual / kinesthetic memory effect.

= = =

I can listen to the radio and, with a tiny delay, repeat back (echo) everything I hear nearly flawlessly at the same rate and with the original speakers' inflection (changing speakers doesn't interrupt the flow).

I'd been fooling around with this habit while driving for several years, when I took a psycholinguistics class and the prof asserted that this was not something that humans could do. I said that sure I could, so we set up a demo -- had a classmate read a book aloud, while I followed along. I don't think I was at my best, the prof quibbled a bit about my results, but I think he was expecting a significantly more degraded (halting, monotone) performance than he got.

It occured to me later that saying this was impossible (I think the prof meant primarily the inflection aspect) was pretty silly, as this is more or less what diplomatic translators have done for millenia, with the added dimension of, like, translating.

= = =

It's not so important nor unusual anymore, but back when rocks were soft, telephones had an actual dial that could be operated by a dinosaur's tiny fore-talons, and only Jim Rockford had an answering machine, I developed the super-power of IGNORING RINGING TELEPHONES. There were a whole buncha reasons why I didn't feel like I needed to be Ma Bell's salivatin' dog. But for some reason, it absolutely drove everyone else ape:

"Your phone's ringing."
"I don't feel like talking on the phone right now -- I'm talkin' to you."
"What if somebody's dead?"
"They'll call back."

= = =

Thanks to an accident involving a television picture tube (CRT), gravity, and a radioactive spider -- the life-line of my right hand now extends all the way up to my index finger. It's like 25% longer than it was before.

= = =

I had a high-school teacher who could tie a knot in a cherry stem using only her mouth. This was twenty years before Audrey Horne did it on Twin Peaks.

= = =

A friend of mine once picked up two slide whistles at a flea market, stuck 'em both in his mouth at once and simultaneously played the melody and piccolo oblongato of "The Stars And Stripes Forever". "How did you do that"? "Vitamins." It's possible that he'd practiced that trick for years before hand -- but despite all the weird stuff I witnessed him doing over the years, I never heard him do this one again.
posted by Herodios at 10:38 AM on July 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

I've exceeded 100 mph driving an air-cooled VW.

As a former owner of multiple air-cooled VWs, I have to ask - how in actual hell did you manage that?? I'm guessing either a non-stock engine or a decent downhill stretch...
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:54 AM on July 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

how in actual hell did you manage that??

Stock. The 1973 Type III had a 1600cc engine and a by then pretty mature EFI system. Much more efficient cooling than a bug. Rt 741 between Cincy and Dayton is not mountainous, but it is pretty hilly in places. Takes forever to get up there, but if you can top a ridge at 85+* you just might be able to max out the speedo at 100 partway up the next one. No tach of course, so I've no idea how hard it was working at that speed.

[*Amateur driver, open course, do not attempt, don't tell Dad.]
posted by Herodios at 11:24 AM on July 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

I once joined a group of ceremonial magicians. I had to drive five or six hundred miles away for the meetings, memorize arcane lists, keep up a daily meditation routine complete with chanting and odd gestures, learn how to sew in order to make a ceremonial robe, learn a variety of divination techniques, and participate in weird ceremonies. It was a blast! I'd wouldn't have quit, but I couldn't justify travelling that far that frequently.
posted by Ipsifendus at 11:30 AM on July 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I once joined a group of ceremonial magicians. I had to drive five or six hundred miles away for the meetings . . . I'd wouldn't have quit, but I couldn't justify travelling that far that frequently.

You should have stayed a bit longer. After you achieve the second degree, they teach you the teleportation trick.
posted by Herodios at 11:35 AM on July 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

Late to this party, but here goes. I am a whiz at navigating public transit. I must look like it, too, since every time I go to NYC, at least one person will come up to me in the subway and ask me for directions. (If they only knew I actually live in the Chicago area. ; ) ) My favorite example was in 2001. I was riding on a line I hadn't taken before that day to a part of the city where I'd never been. All of a sudden, the conductor announced that the train was going to skip several stops on the route and go express to another stop. The person next to me was kind of freaked out and asked me how they would be able to get to one of the skipped stops - and I was able to give her correct directions.

Also, I can call a mean game of Bingo.
posted by SisterHavana at 2:03 PM on July 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm on the Internet Adult Film Database because I had a small acting role in a friend's softcore gay porn movie. He used my real name in the credits, and apparently some dedicated fan put all the info up on the IAFD. It used to be in the first page of Google results for my name, but now I think it's migrated to the second or third page.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:52 AM on July 6, 2017

Oh, huh, I just googled myself. I didn't see the IAFD page, but apparently I have an IMDb page now, and apparently it's the first result for my name. If you apply to grad schools, do they google your name? Asking for a friend.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:56 AM on July 6, 2017

Forgot my superpower: at 55 years of age, despite playing drums for fun, and despite having spent what must now add up to years with my head literally pressed against the speakers at live gigs in the deliberate pursuit of drowning in sheer volume (feedback being one of my drugs of choice), I remain more sensitive to sounds above 15kHz than most people I know.

Just used that superpower today, as a matter of fact, to diagnose the fault in a customer's Internet connection. I heard the 9V switching power supply wall wart for her ADSL modem squegging under load, an indication of failing voltage regulation and almost certainly the cause of the modem's recently acquired tendency to lock up.

We still have an old CRT television in the front room, and I can tell whether it's been left switched on or not as soon as I walk in the back door. My 12 year old daughter still doesn't believe me when I tell her it's because I can hear it.
posted by flabdablet at 4:54 AM on July 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

We still have an old CRT television in the front room, and I can tell whether it's been left switched on or not as soon as I walk in the back door. My 12 year old daughter still doesn't believe me when I tell her it's because I can hear it.

One of the best outcomes of the move to flatscreens for me has been that I no longer have to hear the CRT noise everywhere I go. I can also hear those really high pitched sounds, even though I have a fair bit of hearing damage lower in the range (near the pitch of the human voice, inconveniently) from loud music, guns, and other moments when I should have been wearing ear protection over the years.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:14 AM on July 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

A pair of my best buds were on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (it was a "newlyweds" theme episode, so they were on together) and I was their Phone-a-Friend. They called me with a question about tying knots. Backstory here: one of their other prospective Friends to be Phoned was the husband's dad, who retired from a long career in the Navy. I know hardly anything about knots, and there's no way my friends would have known what my personal knot expertise was one way or the other. But the wife of the pair had apparently told her husband that, no matter what happened, when they used their Phone-a-Friend lifeline, she wanted to call me.

So I'm given instructions to wait by the phone all day, and I do. And then the phone rings and I'm told that my friends are playing, that if I hear the phone again it will be Meredith Viera. Long minutes pass. You know that thing people think, about would you have time to Google the question? You don't. It's phrased such that you can't really just Google it and quickly get an answer. The phone rings, it's Meredith, she asks how I am and I say fantastic; I actually feel relieved. My friend says hi; I can hear that she's smiling and then goes serious as she asks the question. It's essentially "what kind of knot is made this way?" and then four options. I ask her to repeat it and then halfway through her repetition I realize I know the answer. I tell her,and she asks how confident I am, and I say "70%" or something dumb like that. I can hear her start to cry a little bit just before we hang up, and I have to wait several hours before they can call me back and tell me how it was. They're not allowed to tell me how much they won. But since I know what $$$ amount the question was they asked me, and I know that they got it right, I can guesstimate it.

The only reason I knew the mnemonic device for that knot was that a few years earlier I had taught myself how to tie a noose, a hangman's knot, during a deep depressive breakdown that would eventually lead to a suicide attempt. The knot I was asked about is structurally pretty similar, which kind of struck me in a flash as I heard the question. I don't much believe in fate, or in an intentional universe, or whatever. But it was serendipitous, a bright little jewel, all these threads coming together. It felt like a tiny redemption. I suppose that's the oddest thing that's ever happened to me.
posted by penduluum at 5:53 AM on July 6, 2017 [9 favorites]

all these threads coming together

knot what they seam?
posted by flabdablet at 6:59 AM on July 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

I was interviewed for an episode of Hard Copy in the late 90s in connection to my reporting on a crazy murder case that happened in one of the towns the newspaper where I worked covered. (The episode aired, but my interview footage wasn't in there.)

Also from my Maryland newspaper reporter days, I locked myself out of my car not once, but twice. Both times, I had driven out to the scene of a car accident and parked on the side of the road, with my car keys visible on the driver's seat. The first time it happened, I ran into a store and borrowed a phone to call a locksmith, who came out and smashed my passenger side window in the process of jimmying the lock open.

The second time I did it, I knew enough not to call a locksmith. I asked a Maryland State Trooper if he could help me out. He was busy, of course, but not too busy to reach into his trunk and produce what looked like a car radio antenna with sort of a hooked end. "You didn't get this from me. I'm not going to tell you what this is, or how to use it," he said. He also didn't want it back, so I kept it in my trunk for years after that.

The oddest adventure from my newspaper days was probably the time they sent me to cover a beauty pageant, where the contestants ranged in age from about 6 to 18. This was two years after the Jonbenét Ramsey murder, and boy was it too soon.
posted by emelenjr at 10:06 AM on July 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was on Oprah in 1995
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:13 PM on July 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

The friends of my naturist neighbors have finally returned the corkscrew just now.

They were wearing flip-flops.
posted by Wordshore at 4:20 PM on July 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

My nickname is "Bloodhound", because of my superior sense of smell.
posted by PearlRose at 4:56 PM on July 6, 2017

We still have an old CRT television in the front room, and I can tell whether it's been left switched on or not as soon as I walk in the back door. My 12 year old daughter still doesn't believe me when I tell her it's because I can hear it.

I know that sound. A former roommate thought I was either lying or crazy.
posted by bunderful at 6:58 PM on July 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Second City sponsored my H1B in 1998.
posted by infini at 1:45 AM on July 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

(It just occurs to me, maybe this is also why strangers so often strike up conversations with me on public transit and tell me their weird-ass secrets? Is it that my eyebrows make me look trustworthy to their subconscious?)


I have very striking eyebrows too! I get complimented on them a lot. But I didn't realise they could also make me look like a walking Information Desk.
posted by divabat at 9:51 PM on July 8, 2017

Asides from being a walking Information Desk (seriously, not even wearing headphones or reading or being obviously occupied stops it):

- I can platespin, which I find notable because I'm not very good at most other circus stuff (I've been training on and off for some years) but somehow platespinning is the one thing I can do easily that my circus peers have trouble with. And these are people who can climb up poles like monkeys and somersault off any surface.

- I am surprisingly good at accounting (surprising because in the artist circles I run in accounting's like a bad word or some shit)

- Australian magpies don't bother me at all

- I too am usually very good at finding anything on the Internet though nowadays this gets trickier mostly because I will find The Thing and it'll be behind a paywall

- I have streaked in SFMOMA as part of a performance

- My then-girlfriend and I once talked to Daniel Ellsberg about the deal with trans people and names

- I wrote a piece about butter cookie tins as sewing tins that went viral but NPR credited it to Buzzfeed instead and wouldn't change it when asked

I'm sure there's more that I can't think of just yet, my life is full of weird stuff like this!
posted by divabat at 10:04 PM on July 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have very striking eyebrows too! I get complimented on them a lot. But I didn't realise they could also make me look like a walking Information Desk.

Eyebrows definitely count as a superpower, especially if under fully independent and fully voluntary control.

I'm 100% convinced that the real reason Dennis Kucinich is generally considered unelectable boils down to eyebrow inadequacy.
posted by flabdablet at 12:10 AM on July 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Dennis Kucinich is 5'7'' and believes he was abducted by aliens, so I think he would be unelectable even if he had appropriate eyebrows.

(Note: he doesn't actually believe that he was abducted by aliens. He believes he saw aliens. But still unelectable, sadly.)
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:35 AM on July 9, 2017

I didn't realise they could also make me look like a walking Information Desk.

Hey me too! I mean I sort of am a walking information desk but HOW DO THEY KNOW? Another odd little thing about me, though, is that I have basically perfect eyebrows entirely by accident. Freak of nature. So maybe those things are connected.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:58 AM on July 9, 2017


It's that little twinkle of Knowledge in your eye.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:41 PM on July 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

My eyebrows are naturally perfect too, except for one crucial flaw: I can't raise one eyebrow independently. Which frustrates me to no end because that is the number one facial expression I want to have for everything.
posted by divabat at 5:55 PM on July 9, 2017

I can raise one eyebrow a la Spock, but my sister can raise either one independently. I'm quite envious.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:49 PM on July 9, 2017

I can do either. It totally rules, and your life is impoverished without that crucial talent.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:53 AM on July 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

(I'm waggling them back and forth as I type)

(Actually, time for another weird habit--I unconsciously move my eyebrows in sync with the eyebrows of people on TV shows and in movies when I'm watching. My wife catches me doing it and makes fun of me. But I know she likes it. After all, who can resist such virtuosic eyebrow waggling? NO ONE THAT'S WHO)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:54 AM on July 10, 2017

I mean I sort of am a walking information desk but HOW DO THEY KNOW?
I have rather inadequate, imperfect eyebrows, the pale kind and not much there. But I am definitely also a walking info desk. We live in a somewhat touristy district of Vienna and it seems every tourist reads this invisible sign on my forehead: Ask Me.
My husband has this theory it is because I do not look grumpy enough. Not sure if that is right but there. It is true that my face even if I am grumpy does apparently not look grumpy. I(t is abig bonus at my job though as I work with people all day, running events).
posted by 15L06 at 3:27 AM on July 10, 2017

I'm often mistaken for an employee of whatever store I'm in (unless all the employees wear a uniform), and I'm often mistaken for a walking information desk too. It's terrible, since it usually involves giving direction. I've got a pretty good sense of direction, but I'm awful at giving directions to other people. I have a natural inclination to want to be helpful, so I always do my best, but I almost always end up making things worse for the other party.

I can raise individual eyebrows at will, though, and I can even wiggle them back and forth dramatically. I've been told it's "disturbing" to look at.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:11 AM on July 10, 2017

I must have resting fuck-off face, because that stuff never happens to me.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:45 AM on July 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I recognize a "minion" when I see one, but have no idea what that is and don't care to know. I gather this is unusual because they are an irresistible cute thing everyone loves. Don't get it - no appeal.
posted by ctmf at 9:52 PM on July 14, 2017

I recognize a "minion" when I see one, but have no idea what that is...

A minion is incubated within a Kinder Surprise (chocolate) egg. That's why they are banned as an import into the USA, in case they hatch during transit.
posted by Wordshore at 5:34 AM on July 15, 2017

Three years ago, my friend asked me to bring a Kinder egg home from Canada, because her youngest was obsessed with watching unwrapping videos. Not wanting to risk the $2500 fine if caught smuggling one across the border, I filmed a video of my kid opening the egg and then gave my friend's kid the toy inside.

I was more worried about the stupid Kinder egg than I was about the giant bottle of AC&C in my suitcase.
posted by Ruki at 7:34 PM on July 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

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