Metatalktail Hour: Bragging Wrongs October 13, 2018 5:36 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week, terretu suggested "the opposite of the thread on bragging rights, i.e., what things in life are people consistently hilariously bad at."

As always, these are conversation starters, not conversation limiters, and we want to hear about everything that's up with you! (except politics). And if you have suggestions for future topics, hit me up! (And if you hit me up, and I don't respond, rest assured it's sitting in my inbox waiting for me to post it and I just happened to read it when I was chasing my children around and then it wasn't marked unread so I forgot to go back and respond when I had hands to spare.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee to MetaFilter-Related at 5:36 PM (307 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

Making beds. Ok here’s the thing when you’re a nurse you make a zillion beds and they even teach you how to make beds in nursing school. I've had so much practice. And yet when I try really hard and really focus it still looks like the bed I just finished was made by a toddler who didn’t give af.
posted by supercrayon at 5:41 PM on October 13, 2018 [15 favorites]


Gravity. And generally walking/moving/sometimes standing still without hurting myself.

I have decent balance and spatial awareness, but I don't seem able to access them during activities of daily life.
posted by lazuli at 5:41 PM on October 13, 2018 [15 favorites]


I have a degree in English and creative writing but there's a hole in my brain where the spelling of "marriage" is supposed to be. I seriously don't think I could do it without spell check.

I guess it's not that funny unless we decide it's the reason I've shied away from marriage for thirty years. Then it's kind of hilarious!?
posted by kinsey at 5:42 PM on October 13, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm awkardly bad at faces. Seriously bad. For example I cannot find my wife in a crowded restraunt most of the time. It takes effort. I have difficulty recognizing myself in childhood photos. Bad. Bad. Bad.

Coworkers outside of work, not happening. Actors, actresses it's all TERRIBLE.

So, I warn people because I know people by context and defining traits. So my doctor friends in workout clothes, nope. Not going to know who they are. Wear sunglasses my brain thinks you are a stranger even if I've known you ten years.

But I know VOICES super well. I tell people to talk to me and then it will click. But, people think I'm igoring them. I'm really not, I promise, I just have no idea who you are.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:49 PM on October 13, 2018 [29 favorites]


I have absolutely no sense of direction, especially when driving.
Example—over the past 2 months I’ve had four separate appointments at the same exact location about 20 miles from my home. I’ve gotten there fine each time, but got lost ALL FOUR TIMES on the way home.
This is not an isolated thing. I just pretty much automatically build in a ton of extra time when I go somewhere new by myself.
posted by bookmammal at 5:51 PM on October 13, 2018 [12 favorites]


"I have a degree in English and creative writing but there's a hole in my brain where the spelling of "marriage" is supposed to be."

I grew up a hilariously bad speller in general. It mostly got better when I edited a newspaper for four years, but I still had a list of words taped to my monitor that I reliably could not spell, and they were all easy, normal words: surprise, embarrassing, maintenance, restaurant, bureaucracy.

I'm a good cook, but I can't make a pancake to save my life. I either burn them or don't cook the first side long enough so it falls apart when I flip it. My husband loves pancakes, so I've TRIED, but I can't do it. Four-course meal, no problem. Getting seven different dishes on the table at once, all hot, no problem. Spatchcocking a chicken, no problem. Emulsifying sauces, no problem. Making a pancake? APPARENTLY ROCKET SURGERY.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:52 PM on October 13, 2018 [27 favorites]


Frisbee. My freshman floor told me I wasn't allowed to be on the intramural ultimate team, and then they stopped telling me when folks were going to go throw around a frisbee outside. I never had the opportunity to improve!
posted by ChuraChura at 5:55 PM on October 13, 2018 [8 favorites]


hahahahahahahahaha

hahahahahahahaha

I have no idea where to start

The one that really gets me all the time is my terrible academic writing style. Let's just put it this way - one time a "blind" peer reviewer wrote on the very first page of one of my research pubs: "I CAN TELL IT'S YOU [BARCHAN] DUE TO HOW EVERY WORD OF THIS ABSTRACT HAS BEEN SQUEEZED OUT AS PAINFULLY AS A DIAMOND how am I going to get through this without hard liquor help" and when the editor returned my comments he had underlined it.
posted by barchan at 5:56 PM on October 13, 2018 [116 favorites]


Every man in my life has been convinced that it's a good idea for me to drive a truck. Even though I have to stand on the running board and stretch to reach the Oh Shit handle. Even though I need to put one pillow behind me and another one under me. Even though I am the size of a small 12-year-old and can barely reach the gas pedal and brake. "It'll be great!" they've said. And it is never great, especially when there are children and a dog in the back seat, or, I dunno, when there's a BOAT attached to the truck. I keep having to explain, decade after decade, Dude, look, I can't see and I can't reach, but they have remained much more confident about my abilities than I've ever been. I AM BAD AT DRIVING BIG TRUCKS.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:03 PM on October 13, 2018 [9 favorites]


Darts. I can't throw a dart to save my life. Once my ex-husband and I were in a friendly competition with his siblings that included a number of activities. I literally cried when I saw that one part of it was a dartboard. I honestly don't know what it is about darts. I used to be able to do it as a kid, but as an adult I just. can't. do. it. Now it's a total phobia...
posted by gemmy at 6:04 PM on October 13, 2018 [6 favorites]


I am truly terrible at singing. I'm not totally tone deaf, so I can hear that I'm ridiculously off-key, but I can't seem to make my voice do the right thing. This is an issue, because there are a surprising number of people who insist that there is no such thing as a bad singer and I must be making it up, and there are some instances, like religious services and when everyone is singing Happy Birthday, when it's kind of rude just to mouth the words. But trust me: you do not want to hear me sing. Nobody deserves that.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:07 PM on October 13, 2018 [14 favorites]


I'm awkardly bad at faces. Seriously bad.

Me too. The maddening thing is that once I learn what someone looks like well enough, I'm generally fine, unless they get a dramatic haircut. But I it takes a long time for someone to cross that threshold. And if I meet two people simultaneously, forget it.
posted by hoyland at 6:13 PM on October 13, 2018 [4 favorites]


But I know VOICES super well. I tell people to talk to me and then it will click. But, people think I'm igoring them. I'm really not, I promise, I just have no idea who you are.

OMG, I was in a meeting with many higher-ups on Wednesday and someone called into the conference room, and I was closest to the answering-button-thingy so I answered, and the person was like, "Hi, I can't be there in person, but I wanted to check in," and I had NO IDEA who it was and THANK GOD someone else was like, "Who are you?" because it ended up being my boss's boss. And she's chill and it wasn't an issue but I have not had such a moment of paralyzing panic in a long while.

I'm a good cook, but I can't make a pancake to save my life.

For me it's rice. I cannot make rice! Multicourse meals, complicated French techniques, whatever, that's fine, but I will burn any rice you tell me to cook. I love my rice cooker and it's a total necessity because I cannot make rice unless the Zojirushi fuzzy logic tends to it.

and they were all easy, normal words: surprise

I now have a co-worker whose last name is Suprise. It has made things... difficult.
posted by lazuli at 6:14 PM on October 13, 2018 [10 favorites]


I write a lot; it's an (incidental) occupational hazard. THere's no way that the word "probably" is ever going to look right. If I had a nickel for every email that contained 'prob' as a no-more-fucks-to-be-given-half-assed-abbreviation then, well, I'd be rather better compensated.

Other than that I have hilariously bad hand-eye coordination. I am not uncoordinated but I don't see well. Somehow I missed getting an eye exam from ages 8-11 and I probably needed glasses for most of that period. It was a bit of a shock when I discovered that a) everyone else could actually read what was on the chalk board and b) they could also automagically follow such things as golf balls and tennis balls. I always wondered how they got from A to B, without glasses they just seem to appear in different places after some interval.

So anyway I was pretty visually impaired during a fairly important neurological development window. 30 years later I feel pretty comfortable demonstrating complicated compound movements to the athletes I coach but I can't catch or throw. I do knock over a water glass pretty much every other day though so I have that embarrassing quirk working for me.

Please never ever ask about the summer I worked as a teenager with a hammer.
posted by mce at 6:14 PM on October 13, 2018 [12 favorites]


I'm terrible at many things but wanted to relate that Thursday night our dog Tish killed a rat outside.

Note: Amherst NY, where we live, has a bit of an ongoing rat problem and you don't have to be a filthy degenerate to have a rat in your yard here, okay?

Anyway, she wanted out late at night so I turned on the outside flood to check for (extra-stoooooopid) bunnies and, seeing none, let her out and went off to make myself an instant decaf coffee because it's FINALLY appropriate temperatures for fall outside. Then I hear the squeaking. My first thought is "Oh, fuck, she's annoying a skunk... again." or that she'd just hurt herself running but nope. She is standing there with a screeching rat in her mouth shaking it like a motherfucker. Then she got this "Meh, this isn't fun any more" look and dropped the dying rat.

Initial result: dead rat, uninjured vallhund.
Secondary result: Tish gets a bath to wash off any saliva or urine that got on her, mostly because lepto.
Tertiary result: Tish gets a cookie.

The score in our yard so far is (IIRC) one adult bunny, three baby bunnies, and two rats, though I can't pinky-swear that the dogs got the other rat.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:20 PM on October 13, 2018 [7 favorites]


I can't make a pancake to save my life. I either burn them or don't cook the first side long enough so it falls apart when I flip it.

Thank you for making me feel less alone. :)

This has been an uncommonly crappy week. Among other things, Little eirias broke her arm at school yesterday. But on the bright side, we met a wonderful cat today that we’re planning to adopt. All slippery slinky collapse-in-lap catolescence. We hope she’ll be a good companion to our other cat, who badly needs one. All “how to introduce two cats” advice welcome.
posted by eirias at 6:20 PM on October 13, 2018 [12 favorites]


Parking. I am so bad at parking. Forget about parallel parking, I'm talking about head-in. Always crooked, usually have to back out to even the side distances.

Please never ever ask about the summer I worked as a teenager with a hammer.

I have an emergency room receipt with the reason for being there noted as "self-inflicted hammer wound to head."
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:23 PM on October 13, 2018 [27 favorites]


Also if you want to make an entire bowling alley burst out laughing then take me bowling with you. My bowling M.O. (as described to me by numerous people) is to jump up and down, run as fast I can to the line while cradling the ball, come to a complete stop, jump up and down again, stop, aim (apparently with my tongue sticking out one side of my mouth and one eye scrunched shut) and only then (with a lot of swinging my arm back and forth) throw the ball. Then I jump and down as it goes down the lane. I have decent aim and some muscles, so my scores aren't that bad, usually in the 140-160 range, but the hush that can fall over the alley after I've been up a few times as everybody stops to watch me and their subsequent laughter eventually makes me nervous and I start repeat gutter balls.
posted by barchan at 6:26 PM on October 13, 2018 [8 favorites]


I am 6' 3". I have absolutely no idea how tall you are. I repeatedly mistake short people for tall. If you asked me to arrange people by height (and they weren't actually there) I would probably put a bunch of people out of order in a hilariously... "Why did you put that person in with all those 6' people? That person is 5'1"..." sort of way.... Seriously... the only way I can judge height is apparently whether or not you ask me to reach things from the top shelf or not... and... most people ask me to get stuff from there for them...

I could build you a bridge. I could estimate the height of a door frame or ceiling. I could build you a tree house... but I would be surprised when you didn't bump your head on the same things that I would. Seriously - I can judge the size of inanimate objects with decent accuracy... but people? no idea.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:29 PM on October 13, 2018 [7 favorites]


I am also a very terrible bowler. Actually, I'm pretty terrible at anything that requires either small or gross motor skills. The one exception is parallel parking. I am inexplicably good at that.

I have a canvassing story! I was canvassing today, and I had a difficult walk packet. Rural area, lots of farms with very long gravel driveways, etc. So anyway, I got to the very last house, and it looked like no one was home. No lights on, no car in the driveway. But I am a conscientious canvasser, so I knocked on the door, and two little dogs started yipping. "Yip, yip, yip" went the little dogs, and then I heard someone squack "Shaddup!" So I thought, "ok, someone is definitely home," and I rang the bell again. "Yip! Yip! Yip!" went the little dogs again, and "Shaddup!!!" squacked the voice. I waited like two minutes, yipping and "Shaddup"ing continuing the whole time, and then rang the bell again, because someone was definitely there.

And then it occurred to me that maybe I wasn't hearing "shut up." Something sounded not-right about the voice. Maybe it was a person crying out in pain? Maybe the woman who lived there had fallen and needed help? I went over to the side of the house, peered into the window, and saw...

a very large parrot. Apparently someone in the house says "shut up" every time the dogs yip, and the parrot has picked it up.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:31 PM on October 13, 2018 [65 favorites]


Math. And anything involving balance (no roller or ice skates, skateboards, rollerblades, skis, etc.)...I'm okay in a kayak though.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:32 PM on October 13, 2018 [4 favorites]


Ugh, chopsticks. I tell myself that I am going to practice, and my bestie even brought me back a set of plastic/reusable chopsticks from korea. They came in their own carrying case, like glasses. But then i forget my promise (forks are right there in the drawer!) and then suddenly we’re out for japanese food and I’m the only person at the table who has to ask for a fork.
posted by janepanic at 6:34 PM on October 13, 2018 [4 favorites]


It didn't used to be the case, but I believe peri-menopause has caused me to revert to blindly typing out words using some bizarre phonetic spelling, fingers that will start typing in the first 4 letters of a word I have in mind and then stop consulting my active brain and complete the rest of the word in a different direction using muscle memory (e.g., fingers constantly typing out "university" when the brain is thinking "universal") and dropping small words like prepositions left and right. If it weren't for spell-check and--dare I say it?--Grammarly, I would be utterly screwed. My livelihood depends on being able to type out correct prose at a high rate of speed. This is frankly embarrassing for someone who has more than 30 years of experience in copy editing.

The score in our yard so far is (IIRC) one adult bunny, three baby bunnies, and two rats, though I can't pinky-swear that the dogs got the other rat.
I won't tell the full story that involves a surprisingly prey-driven Pomeranian and a baby bunny, but I don't think I really need to.
posted by drlith at 6:42 PM on October 13, 2018 [9 favorites]


Being a functional adult. Also, drawing or painting. My girlfriend says I have a "charmingly coarse" style, which is a nice way of saying I somehow make stick figures look lumpy.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:42 PM on October 13, 2018 [7 favorites]


I'm not good at seeing messes. I know this is a hugely stereotypical male shortcoming, so I prefer to think I am busting down barriers by having it as a lady. Seriously, I know it's not cute. People have yelled at me. I was driven to tears as a child by how I was just not doing a good enough job at my chores and I didn't get it. I take responsibility for sucking at it, and if I'm in a shared space, I try to remember it's my weak spot. But if I'm at home: fuck it.

I'm also not good at telling what not to say to kids. I love them, but sometimes I don't know how to talk to them. My parents never talked down to me, which I loved, and they never made a big censorship effort with my movies and books. Consequently, I worry that I'm going to repeat something alarming to them, the way I repeated alarming stuff to other children back in the day, so I don't say too much. It's a shame; I'd like to.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:52 PM on October 13, 2018 [18 favorites]


I really can't rap. I've tried on and off since I was a kid, and I am just not good at it. About the best I can do is the quasi-rap parts in Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk," some of the lyrics to Rockwell Knuckles' "Microwave Generation" if I practice a lot, some of the lyrics to Tef Poe's "War Cry" if I practice a lot, and maybe one Public Enemy track. Rapping is hard!
posted by limeonaire at 6:53 PM on October 13, 2018 [4 favorites]


Oh man, I have horrendous depth perception. So anything that involves catching a ball or parking-or, well, judging depth-well, I’m shit at all that.

Our kittens-who turned one this week-continue to wreak full on death havoc. And we just started a remodel so they’ve found a way to climb up the stairs in the garage, through the attic, and down a hole in the wall where the chimney was-with their prey. I’m talking large still alive snakes. Only the face of a mouse. Half of a rat. I appreciate their commitment to cleaning the neighborhood of rodents, but wish they would leave them elsewhere.

So bright side-remodel finally began this week! Came home today to a foundation. Bad side-there was a dead rat carefully placed next to it.
posted by purenitrous at 6:57 PM on October 13, 2018 [10 favorites]


I have two real deficits, with varying consequences. One is that I’m very very bad with names and this can lead to embarrassing circumstances. If you have an interesting or non-western standard name I will probably remember it yay! If your name is Tom or Lisa IT WILL TAKE ME MONTHS. My other problem is probably due to my Autism. I have what is most likely dispraxia. I had to have a buttload of OT as a child to various effect. I can tie shoes now! But besides my usual tripping over air bullshit and walking into doorframes bullshit the worst part of this is that it is near impossible for me to eat without some of what I’m eating ending up on my shirt or pants. Now this does vary from food to food- I’m at a nice local wine bar now and my tartare is not on my pants thank you- but I carry a tide pen around with me for a reason, you dig?
———
Oh man did I work my butt off today. I tore down my terrible fava beans today Which was more work then I expected. I ended up having to literally jump up and down in my green bin to smush it all down. It was such an aphid-y mess the living ones tried to climb out of the compost bin and I had to spray the damn bin with neem oil ick. I saved as many ladybugs as I could So they didn’t die a terrible death in the bin- also because there are still some red aphids on the tomato and I want the power of their larvae. Reproduce! Make wonderful aphid killing babies! (I’m getting some weird comments on imgur- might be that my ladybugs are the invasive kinds but... they kill my aphids either way so...)
The peppers are doing as marvelous as the tomato is. More so! The hatch peppers are doing well, though as a commenter points out- might not be hatches! They are kinda a miracle- surviving a transplant after being squished so here’s to them! the Shishito peppers are the real workhorses- just putting out pepper after pepper, I’m going to have some great little guys all through October. the baby red bell peppers Are doing well despite their small pot- and they are just starting to turn red so by Halloween I should have a few. Gonna have to transplant them to a deeper pot over winter if I want perennial peppers, they’re a little stunted even for a dwarf variety. (Though the peppers themselves are the right size- it’s the plant that’s over-small) The dark horse is the Mexican mole peppers Which went from not doing good to suddenly putting out flowers and starting to fruit! I might get some nice mole peppers for thanksgiving lol. It’s been a lot of work in the garden but especially now in San Francisco as we start to get a warm October things are starting to go really well. Also a plus- the cold weather during the real summer months means a lot less bugs now!

Everyone is doing well at home- the silly bee-eater aka the dog had a few really bad days where we were considering... well. What you have to consider. But the last few days she seems to have rebounded. It will be a miracle if she lives out the year, and I’ve never been a praying person, but I am considering it. I love this silly dog.

I’m still updating my blog but after all the hard work today, I wouldn’t be surprised if today’s activities are posted tomorrow. Or like at midnight lol.

But man. After some not great days just opening up the basement door in the middle of a city- hills of houses and buildings left right and center. Being able to walk into an oasis of plants and herbs and vegetables... it keeps me sane you know?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:01 PM on October 13, 2018 [17 favorites]


I can't really tell left from right. I can only do it by saying "I write with my right" and then miming writing.

I have a PhD. I'm toying with the idea of getting another (you know, for fun). And I can't tell left from right.
posted by meese at 7:24 PM on October 13, 2018 [23 favorites]


I used to be incredibly bad at simple math. Like, subtraction is still annoying for me. The rest is not so terrible, now, but I can't subtract without a pen and paper (or intense focus) for some reason.

I lose any ball that is thrown toward me over a long enough distance or in less than ideal lighting conditions. They just disappear.

I lose my balance a lot, like daily, but I never fall over unless there's ice. So, a check mark in each column there, I guess.

In an unrelated note, I shampooed two cats yesterday, and only received one scratch, where the old man tried to climb over my back to get away while I was rinsing him off.
Both cats are somewhat fluffier for the ordeal, with the young one (with coarser fur) becoming a spaffed-out fluffball almost immediately, but the old guy with the thin slinky fur just getting all wet spikes and drowned-rat looking and refusing to let me towel-dry him any further. I put a towel on the radiator so he could be warm while he got dry on his own.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:25 PM on October 13, 2018 [5 favorites]


" I can't tell left from right."

I can't do clockwise and counterclockwise unless I hold my finger up and trace a circle in the air like I'm looking at a clock. I can't do it AT ALL if something's supposed to turn clockwise or counterclockwise on a horizontal plane (like a person, or stirring something) because a clock is on a VERTICAL plane and I can't translate.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:27 PM on October 13, 2018 [7 favorites]


When I was a kid, someone told me that if you hold your hands up and extend your thumbs out, the left hand is the one that makes an L. So now I have to hold my hands up like that, and then I know which one is left. Also, I can only tell East and West if I figure out which way is North and then mentally superimpose a map of the United States on top of the landscape. California is West.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:32 PM on October 13, 2018 [20 favorites]


Ruling straight lines. Oh, I'm so bad at it. I can't do a margin on a page without measuring the top and the bottom. My handwriting is also terrible. It looks like Elvish. I'm left handed, and my hand was always smearing, and I think as a child I was just like "why bother". Even when I try to make it look nice now, it still looks like a kid's writing.

I'm tired this morning! I had a huge run yesterday (my battered feet are finally working!), and I just hosted my seven year old's birthday party. One of my uni jobs was as a party host, so I essentially gave my daughter the party I used to deliver. I feel like kids in general and boys in particular (sadly) are naughtier now than they were circa 2001. I wonder if parents realise that the standard they accept is the standard they are promoting. There were some shining stars, thankfully. Also, party food: don't waste money on sushi and party pies and crap; just give them fairy bread. The kids ate about 3 times as much fairy bread as anything else!

Finally. We adopted a kitten to replace my beloved Twilight. Her name is Dusky, she's super cute, and getting on so well with her new brother. I'm very pleased.
posted by smoke at 7:32 PM on October 13, 2018 [16 favorites]


I can't make french toast or bread pudding. I love both, but it's not to be.
posted by Stonkle at 7:35 PM on October 13, 2018 [2 favorites]


I love this question!!

I have dazzlingly bad spatial skills in most things. Directions? I can get lost if I go out the wrong door of a building, I still turn wrong coming home from the home of a friend who lives a mile away from me, I can't remember driving directions for anything. I am terrible at estimating the size of things or where they'll fit, I have no idea which way is north etc. unless the sun is rising or setting, I'm dreadful at any sport involving hitting a ball with a thing, I'm on the short list of least competent parallel parkers in the world. I have good aim if I'm throwing things at something, get complimented on my forms in pottery and am fantastic at estimating how much something weighs, so this doesn't apply to every single situation, but where it's bad it's bad.

This runs in my family; my mom will walk a mile out of the way to avoid parallel parking, my poor grandma grew up in Nebraska where people would give directions like "go north at the intersection" and was totally thrown by it, and there's a great story about my aunt knowing to get to her college by turning at a certain color house with a big tree and getting hopelessly lost when they painted the house and cut down the tree one summer. Being in good company does not make this less annoying.
posted by centrifugal at 7:52 PM on October 13, 2018 [11 favorites]


Apostrophes'
posted by clavdivs at 7:55 PM on October 13, 2018 [21 favorites]


It's a struggle for me to leave adjectives well enough alone. If I don't catch myself, I'll double them up with a synonym that adds nothing to the weight of the statement. I can't just say something is sad -- It's always sad and tragic. I can't just say something is hard -- it's always hard and... difficult. A friend pointed this out to me years ago, and I told him I was mortified and embarrassed. He laughed.

I've been able to curb it quite a bit through practice, but it still makes me nervous (and anxious) every time I speak. I can catch it better when I'm writing.
posted by mochapickle at 8:36 PM on October 13, 2018 [25 favorites]


I cannot consistently open or close a lock with a key. I have lived in the same house for 40 years and I still have trouble opening the lock. I can't remember which way to turn it and get confused when trying to lock it whether it actually locked or not. Always have to turn the knob and push just to make sure it locked. 50/50 chance it locked. Neither of my roommates have any problem with the lock.

Starting other people's cars or a rental takes me several trys. Car ignitions often have some trick and I can never figure it out. Have had to go get the rental agent to come show me how to start this thing.Hotel locks (even with key cards) defy opening.

I despair when going to traveling friends' houses to water plants or feed animals because I can barely get their doors open much less lock them back up. I have been brought to tears when struggling to lock up a friend's place and I just CAN'T get the damn mechanism to lock.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 8:46 PM on October 13, 2018 [6 favorites]


My handwriting is so bad that I frequently can't read my own writing and have to guess from context.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:55 PM on October 13, 2018 [12 favorites]


Tying shoelaces. I always need to make the two loops rather than the thing where you make one and loop the other shoelace around. I am also terrible with names and avoid addressing people by name wherever possible. This only really causes issues if I need to get someone's attention or make an introduction.
posted by Kris10_b at 9:09 PM on October 13, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm not great at recognizing faces or voices. Once I asked my own mother, "Who is this?" after I called my parents' house and she picked up the phone, because the voice didn't sound familiar enough to me.

I'm also bad at seeing the fronts of cars as faces, which is not something I ever even imagined anyone doing until my daughter started talking about it. She always automatically sees every car as having a face (the headlights are the eyes) and she reads their expressions and notices at a glance whether they look happy or angry or neutral as they go by. I can usually make myself see faces on them if I try and if I have a long enough time to look but I get confused about what part I ought to consider the mouth and often they go by too fast.
posted by Redstart at 9:15 PM on October 13, 2018 [3 favorites]


I have no sense of direction. None. I can get lost in a bathtub. I also can, and have, gotten completely lost while using Google maps to navigate. And I’ve lived in NYC for nearly my whole life, and I still get in the subway going the wrong way at least once or twice a month. It’s actually kind of pathetic.
posted by holborne at 9:22 PM on October 13, 2018 [8 favorites]


I can't really tell left from right. I can only do it by saying "I write with my right" and then miming writing.

Yep, and also the clockwise thing, and also east and west (and, by association, time zones, I have to remember basically how to sun moves through the sky to remember if it's earlier in CA than MA or later) and also basically any thing with two variables that have an arbitrary distinction. I had these friends who were twins and one was named Casey and one was named... something else and they DID NOT LOOK THE SAME and yet I could not get their names right because there wasn't enough to "pin" a name to a body. I did not know the difference between VT and NH until I lived in one. It's super weird and I always love finding new things that fit into those unlearnable slots. Like there is one tiny dead place in my brain.

I have elaborate coping strategies for all of this so I don't make it anyone else's problem but I will also cut the next person who tells me "Your left hand makes an L" because it depends how you hold it and if I could remember how to hold it I would not have this problem!

I am otherwise pretty competent so this is a source of amusement to me generally.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:31 PM on October 13, 2018 [11 favorites]


Math. Simple math, which is mortifying when I’m trying to add a tip to a receipt when the service person is standing there and my brain begins melting under the scrutiny and unhelpfully starts spitting out random numbers so I covertly try to add a two digit number to a one digit number on my phone calculator and hope the blank look on my face isn’t going to be misinterpreted as someone having a stroke.

I recently saw all my grade school report cards and was delighted to see that I was horrible at math all the way back to kindergarten.
posted by not_the_water at 9:57 PM on October 13, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also, I can only tell East and West if I figure out which way is North and then mentally superimpose a map of the United States on top of the landscape. California is West.

I basically do this, though for me it's more about facing north and then knowing the Pacific is to my left. The first time I went to Africa I was constantly confused about east/west, because left was in the direction of the Atlantic, while the Pacific was really off to the right, so wait a minute, which way am I facing? I've never had that issue in Europe or on a later trip to Africa, it was just that one trip where I spent the entire time spatially discombobulated.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:01 PM on October 13, 2018 [2 favorites]


Song lyrics and mnemonics. I have an actual brain gap for learning song lyrics and can only memorise them as a text poem in writing. I remember as a child being absolutely thrilled to find the nursery rhyme for Baa Baa Black Sheep framed in a room because I was able to memorise it and then slowly sing it aloud over an hour of careful practice. I never understood how people learned things through mnemonics, crazy talk!

It's magic to me watching my kids listen to a song and then sing it back with the right lyrics, or even make up their own lyrics! Or to hear people rattle off a code word and then have it unfurl to a list of other facts. HOW.

Also I can now also sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and The Wheels On The Bus.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:06 PM on October 13, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also, I can only tell East and West if I figure out which way is North and then mentally superimpose a map of the United States on top of the landscape. California is West.

I do this exact thing! Also I have to have a pretty long pause in conversation to figure out East vs West via my mental picture, which feels awkward and makes me feel stupid. If I just try to wing it, I'm wrong like 80% of the time, it's ridiculous.

I'm bad at figuring out song lyrics. I think I have a mild auditory processing disorder or something. Sometimes I can hear the sounds properly, but can't quite turn it into the right words. There is an embarrassing childhood story about me, the words to The Rainbow Connection from the Muppet Movie, and a word I heard as: "happisly". My family still makes fun of me for it. Now that I'm an adult I can laugh about it too, but when I was 8, it made me feel so terrible and stupid. Oh, how they laughed. :(
posted by cats are weird at 10:18 PM on October 13, 2018 [2 favorites]


"The first time I went to Africa I was constantly confused about east/west, because left was in the direction of the Atlantic, while the Pacific was really off to the right, so wait a minute, which way am I facing?"

Hee hee, I have this problem in Indiana; since I grew up in Chicago where you learn early that "the Lake is always east" and I have an awesome internal compass that's totally keyed on Lake Michigan. So when I moved to South Bend for college, I still knew exactly where the Lake was, looming there helping me accurately navigate and always know which way was north and so on ... but when I tried to give directions I'd always say "east" when I meant west because "towards the Lake" was always east!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:21 PM on October 13, 2018 [9 favorites]


I also am an excellent cook who is flummoxed by pancakes! Fuck pancakes!
posted by Grandysaur at 10:23 PM on October 13, 2018 [5 favorites]


I've never internalized right and left, which can (understandably) grate on the last nerve of anyone attempting to direct my driving, as well as any driver who is depending on my ability to navigate.

So, for example, if you want me to make a right at the next intersection, you need to give me an extra couple of seconds to process the request. There's a similar delay if I'm the one giving directions. In this case, I usually point the correct direction before articulating the request. For reasons I can't explain, pointing seems to trigger the right (or left) answer.

I taught my kids the "L" prompt when they were learning left/right (i.e., make an L with thumb and index finger, the correct L is left and the backward L is right), but I've never found this helpful because when I look at both hands in L position, it's not immediately apparent to me which L is backward.
posted by she's not there at 10:31 PM on October 13, 2018 [6 favorites]


Me too, drawing. Even my stick figures are unconvincing. This was actually kind of an asset when I was teaching EFL; sometimes I'd draw something on the board to illustrate a vocabulary word or a concept, and even the kids who were zoning out would get interested in trying to figure out what that could possibly be meant to represent.
posted by huimangm at 10:34 PM on October 13, 2018 [5 favorites]


I can't make omelets. I always end up with scrambled eggs with the filling mixed in with them. If I want an omelet, I go to IHOP.
posted by Rob Rockets at 10:44 PM on October 13, 2018 [5 favorites]


TIL that I am hardly the only person on the planet with left/right confusion. So, my tolerance for exasperated sighs and exaggerated eye rolls whenever it takes me an extra second or two to make the call is now approaching zero.
posted by she's not there at 10:46 PM on October 13, 2018 [9 favorites]


Concision.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:56 PM on October 13, 2018 [11 favorites]


nice.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:12 PM on October 13, 2018 [4 favorites]


I make ridiculous mistakes calculating orders of magnitude. Like, multiply 0.02 by 1000. 2? I don't know....I have to write them down and physically draw the decimal point moving. I have no trouble with many other types of mental math. I have a PhD in the sciences- this déficit means I must do conversions of ug/ml to mg/ml and similar on paper. Don't even think about g/dl to mg/l. I so regularly get them wrong that I don't dare do them in front of people anymore.

Also the singing thing. I am an OK musician on musical instruments; I have good pitch. But it's painful for me to listen to myself sing and other people laugh at me and think I'm goofing around.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 11:20 PM on October 13, 2018 [5 favorites]


Names! I am really bad remembering people's names. Some will stick, even years after (and I don't know why), but for most people I will probably draw a blank and then get "we were best friends for years and you need a refresher on my name!?".

Now faces, I am good with. I can recognise the guy that made our coffee that one time 6 months ago from the briefest of flashes as he goes by us on the bike lane. But if we're ever in a momentous situation together - afterwards i'll probably blank on his name, Luckily here where we live it's pretty typical to introduce yourself by name to a new person rather than being given their name by the presenter - so I use my SO in social situations to re-learn quickly. For however long it will stick....

I am also bad at resisting the impulse to be "funny" (quotes definitely needed). My saving grace is that I apparently have really good timing and delivery:

New meeting where everyone meets the new function head (basically my bosses' boss) for the first time.
We are conducting the meeting in English as not everyone can speak danish.
New guy is danish but has the high level that basically everyone here has.
He ends with the typical "I do not expect to come here and tell you how to do your job. If I do or say something wrong, please say so and learn me"

[ beat of silence ]

"...teach me..." is my reply to the open meeting room because in some instinctive way my brain processes this as "PERFECT OPPORTUNITY TO BE FUNNY. IT'S RIGHT THERE. JUST REACH OUT AND TAKE IT!". One day this instinct is going to bite me in the ass, but as of now, including the episode described, my timing and delivery has always had the room - including any "target" - laughing out loud with no work repercussions. *whew*
posted by alchemist at 11:31 PM on October 13, 2018 [6 favorites]


Things other people are hilariously bad at:
Treating female developers with respect
Driving. Don't you know I'm the only competent driver here?
Remembering that there's more than one Portland in the US.

Things I'm hilariously bad at:
Finding my way. One not-unusual recent example: I was riding my motorcycle from Portland, OR to Vancouver, Washington to meet a friend at a restaurant just on the Vancouver side of the river. I looked at the map as I was leaving and the route looked totally logical.

I ended up crossing the Willamette five times to meet her in Vancouver.
posted by bendy at 12:14 AM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I have orange/green confusion. I’m not colour blind, I can see the difference, but if I ever need to say the colour of something, there’s a strong chance I will come out with the wrong word.

I usually catch myself doing it and can correct myself, but if I’m not concentrating I might not. It’s obviously a retrieval problem; I don’t get confused when I read orange or green written down, or if someone else says it. I also don’t have a problem with e.g. the name of the fruit. Or with other colour pairs. It’s not a big problem in my life, it’s just… weird.

I googled it once and was fascinated to discover other people with the same thing. I replied to that blog post years ago and I still regularly get email notifications as new people google it and are excited to discover that other people share their weirdness.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 12:17 AM on October 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


Four people have said to me in the last couple months, "Hey Wendy."

Every time I look at them, I squint at them, and ask "have we met?"

And they always say yes then I ask them to remind me of their names and they tell me and give me a hand shake and I ask them what they do. And they say, "we're both on the Brazil project. We were in a 1:1 meeting together two days ago".
posted by bendy at 12:26 AM on October 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


Wrapping gifts. Which is strange because I should be good at it - I have great dexterity, patience, detail orientation and I'm great at building and assembling things. But my gifts always look like they were wrapped by a 4-year-old.

I'm also kind of an experimental cook. I'm not consistently bad at it, sometimes I turn out something amazing. But I do brag about the time I decided to see if I could make Cheetos.

This was in pre-www days, so I had only conjecture and speculation to go on. I figured it was probably a corn base, but we didn't have any corn flour. I made my own by draining a can of sweet corn and dehydrating it in a low oven, then grinding it in a coffee grinder. I mixed in the contents of a sauce packet from a box of mac and cheese. I wasn't sure how to bind it, so I mixed it with some water and oil. I fired up my roommate's FryBaby, formed my... substance into small logs and started frying.

It turns out that is not how Cheetos are made.

If you want a recipe for sad disgusting oily coffee-flavored corn and cheese logs though, well... now you have one.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 1:01 AM on October 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


Math, wrapping gifts, and, of course
NAMES, aggravated by living in a country where most of the population appears to be called something like Lars Eriksson/Erik Larsson, or Carolina/Linda Eriksson/Larsson.
posted by Namlit at 1:36 AM on October 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm really bad at using touchpads on laptops. I'm extremely slow and imprecise, and after a minute or so it starts feeling physically unpleasant. I always carry my special laptop mouse with the laptop and if I happen to forget it I get really stressed, because I know no work will be done… The mouse is tiny and covered in filth and duct tape and just perfect (a very old Microsoft Compact Optical 500), so borrowing someone else's will do in a pinch but is not an ideal solution.

I am in awe of touchpad users.
posted by Vesihiisi at 1:56 AM on October 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


I really struggle with saying long numbers verbally. Like, one thousand, five hundred and twenty four? Fine. Anything in the ten thousand and up range that isn’t a round number? Forget about it.

Names, I’m also pretty terrible at, despite being able to remember all sorts of things about the person, I will often be having a long conversation with them while thinking 'name, name, name, oh god, what is their name' in my head. This is especially bad with my colleagues from other campuses because I see them so infrequently in person.

I have no idea where half the states in the US are (but I can locate all the counties in Ireland and most of the countries in Southern Africa - anything in the north has got a bit hazy over time) so frequently end up looking at maps and going ‘ohhh, that state is very far from that state! Gosh!’.

In other news, we exchanged on the house! I hate packing! There are way too many things I need to sort out between now and mid-November. Aaaaarrrgghhh.
posted by halcyonday at 2:09 AM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


Many are really poor at typing, even computer nerds. I can't count the times I've been looking/waiting over someones shoulder waiting and watching them type and trying not to pull my hair out and just yank the keyboard away from them because it would be over and done by this point because they don't type, they poke.

I'm really bad at finding the right point between going on almost forever and ending up with a pithy point and just starting with the pithy point and sounding really rude.

+++

I may have made a big mistake, or finally just settled an ask/tell/assume. Told my sibling of the Green and Blue and got back "Interesting", followed by no response on our shit happened and we chat and catch up on details and plans and routines because we mostly do things in batches instead of the constant communication thing. There's high probability that we think enough the same that you could read that in Spock voice. Weighed against OMG there's like 15 years (just guessing) of stuff that they haven't googled up that are now at fingertips and I've um... overshared? on occasion, maybe?

TL;DR: finally explicitly at least told sibling of existence of *MF. What Hath God Wrought.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:11 AM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


How car engines work. I have a drivers licence and I used to be an avid watcher of car and car related documentaries so I've had this explained to me x number of times ... yet it never sticks. Something something piston something something explosion oooh look at the car go. It's ridiculous.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 2:21 AM on October 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Plastic wrap.
No matter if I tear it off or use a slider, generic or Saran wrap, it's coming off in a useless ball that sticks to itself and nothing else.
And when that ball is uncrumpled, the subsequent piece is guaranteed to be too small to cover whatever it is I'm trying to wrap.

Personally, I think it's genetic, both my sister and my child have the exact same problem.
posted by madajb at 2:49 AM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I cannot blow up a balloon.
posted by JanetLand at 3:24 AM on October 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm supremely terrible at reading between the lines. It's not that I can't figure things out, it's that I just don't care to use the extra energy that's required. Mostly the hidden information is something I find quite boring, a bit like gossip. I'm usually always more interested in where I put my cup of tea.

=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+

I had an interesting weekend of errands at home and then a less-than-24-hours dash to a big city for job-hunting duties. But the biggest, happiest news is that I finally got to eat breakfast at Denny's, pretending to be in a Murakami novel.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 3:42 AM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


Things involving driving come very slowly to me. Backing up a vehicle with a trailer is not on my list of skills yet.

Names: i’ve taken to letting people know that I’m terrible with names when I introduce myself. I’ve found it helps. I’ve also found that many others are similarly bad when I’ve mentioned how bad I am. That also helps but in a different way.

I’ve only vaguely reliably learned right from left in the past decade.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:45 AM on October 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Song lyrics. If I know a song at all, I can remember only two lines from it, no matter how many times I've heard it.
posted by zompist at 4:17 AM on October 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


back in my avidly anti-twilight phase I once went on a rant about how Bella's only supposed flaw is "Clumsiness".

"And she's not even clumsy!" I said. "She falls on black ice, boohoo, that could happen to anyone"

On a roll, warming up to my topic, I continued: "Heck, even normal non-clumsy people, like me, bang into or fall over things at least a few times a day-- I have whole collections of bruises whose origins I can't remember and I'm not clumsy at all!"

"...What, no." My friend said.
posted by Cozybee at 4:39 AM on October 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


I am OK at regular cooking, but I am positively terrible at holiday cooking. Please, let me bring napkins!

I am also bad at taking care of my cars, and I have a kind of special one now so it's a bummer.
posted by rhizome at 4:47 AM on October 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


I cannot throw things. I mean, I can make them leave my hand with force, but it is 100% unpredictable where they will go afterwards. Most people in my life know not to ask this unreasonable task of me.
posted by obfuscation at 5:37 AM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


If you gave me a spelling test, I could do fine. I know how words are spelled. If I'm typing out a sentence, however, everything will be spelled phonetically.

I also mix up idioms. I'm like that demon in the Xanth books who misuses all idiomatic language.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:45 AM on October 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


I am awful at eyeballing dimensions and distance, yet people still insist on asking me what size the photo is we need a frame for (me: 8x10 answer: 4x6), or how far is the gas station from the expressway (me: 2 miles? answer: 500 yards) or the size of a room. When we bought our house and I was looking into homeowners insurance, I didn't know the square footage of the house. I grabbed the first number I found on the MLS. It looked right. But it was the square footage of the property and I was bombarded for days with emails from agents wanting to insure my giant house.
posted by kimberussell at 5:47 AM on October 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


+1 for the Mysterious Bruises Club! And like Kris10_b, I use the two loops in a knot method to tie my shoelaces.

I also can't snap my fingers, fold a fitted sheet, or tell East from West without using the "never eat shredded wheat" mnemonic and pointing my way around the compass.
posted by bettafish at 5:51 AM on October 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


I also can't tell left from right! It's the biggest source of in-car arguments. I tell my husband to turn "that way" and he's like "WHAT WAY???!?!?!?"

I'm going to have to do the practice exam for my driver's license very soon, and I'm really nervous about the left/right thing. What if they tell me to turn right and I turn left and cross a solid line or something???
posted by lollymccatburglar at 5:59 AM on October 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


I can't wink, whistle or snap my fingers.

Also, I consistently say "right" instead of "left" and vice versa.
I learned it right in elementary school but then med school messed it up for me.
You know how when you are facing a person, their right side is on the left, right?
Also, when looking at an X-ray of a person, you have the right side of the patient on the left side of the film.
So, ever since the first year of med school, I always say "right" instead of "left" because it's the World's Facing Me Right Side.

Please don't ask me for directions in busy traffic.
posted by M. at 6:10 AM on October 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


One of the (many) things that doomed my first marriage was my then-sposue’s inability to remember that I need (and give) driving directions as “turn your way” and “turn my way” rather than “turn left” and “turn right”. I simply don’t have that reflexive understanding of which is which.

Ditto west-east. I taught land navigation and still had to mumble “WE go west to east” every time I looked at a map.
posted by Etrigan at 6:19 AM on October 14, 2018 [9 favorites]


TIL that I am hardly the only person on the planet with left/right confusion. So, my tolerance for exasperated sighs and exaggerated eye rolls whenever it takes me an extra second or two to make the call is now approaching zero.

I'm bad enough at this that I tattoed an "L" and an "R" to my forearm. It helps!

I used to be really bad at catching things, like if someone said "heads up!" I would inevitably duck. But then about a year ago I got it into my head that I was finally going to learn how to juggle, which is something I've wanted to do since I was ten. The internet told me you could learn in a day or two. Well, it's been a year, and I still can't juggle (well, I can throw and catch 3 balls, and I sense that I'm on the verge but my brain hasn't figured out how to keep going yet). But I did realize that the reason it was so hard for me was that I didn't really know how to throw or catch. My instincts for it were all wrong, too. Inaction, Daria-style, or avoidance. BUT. Practicing roughly once a day means I can both catch and throw now, like my husband and I can go out and throw a football, and I can catch it, and I went to Chuck-E-Cheese recently with my kid and did okay in the basketball-style games. I can even bowl now! It feels like having a super power, the realization that I'm actually capable of improving on such a simple thing.

Similarly, I used to think I had a black thumb and after 5 years of keeping a garden, I now get sizable harvests of all sorts of things. I still kill houseplants, though.

I am also terrible at names and am pretty bad at lying, generally, as a rule. So I just don't.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:28 AM on October 14, 2018 [18 favorites]


I am terrible at remembering to remove trash (coffee cups, plastic wrap, etc) from my car, but exceptional at hiding the evidence. A person would have to look twice before realizing oh, yes, you are a trash squirrel who likes to stash all your trash acorns behind and under the passenger's side front seat.
posted by nightrecordings at 6:41 AM on October 14, 2018 [10 favorites]


Bad with most names. I was the rush chairman of my fraternity in college and could not remember any rushees name for the life of me. What I am really good at is remembering what high school you went to if you tell me. Worked really well when I was 20. Now that I am 3 decades older I try to ask where a person is from which sort of leads into what high school. I also have probably met someone from their HS at one point so I can vaguely ask about the guy who works for IBM they might know. As my kids say, epic fail.

I cannot eat without spilling on myself. I have tucked the napkin in the top of my shirt or worn a lobster bib and somehow I get something on my shoulder. As my kids also say, "Not a meal until dad spills on himself."
posted by AugustWest at 6:49 AM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


I AM BAD AT NOTHING.

Okay okay I suck at basic life stuff like following any kind of repetitive directions or opening the electric bill and paying it.

I suck at learning how to program my drum machine.

I suck at making phone calls. I hate talking on the phone to strangers I just totally suck at it.
posted by nikaspark at 6:51 AM on October 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


I am terrible at remembering to remove trash (coffee cups, plastic wrap, etc) from my car, but exceptional at hiding the evidence. A person would have to look twice before realizing oh, yes, you are a trash squirrel who likes to stash all your trash acorns behind and under the passenger's side front seat.

If it helps any I am very good at this too you are not alone it's okay I see you and your stash of carcorns is valid.
posted by nikaspark at 6:53 AM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I am absolutely useless at anything involving throwing, catching, or hitting a ball. I went to the same summer camp for seven years, and they tried to teach me how to play tennis every year, and I don't think I ever hit a ball. Turns out (as I found out four years ago when I finally had to get glasses for driving) that my left eye is much weaker than my right eye, which makes for crappy depth perception. I think that's also the reason I can't see those Magic Eye things.

In other news, my 16-year-old is deeply involved in marching band competition season, which means we spend every weekend driving to someplace far away to spend the day sitting in uncomfortable bleachers in the roasting Florida sun watching an event that is (to me) profoundly boring. This is my first taste of what it would have been like had he gone in for sports. His previous musical endeavors were mostly with the local School of Rock, which has the good sense to hold its performance events in nice air-conditioned bars that serve alcoholic beverages. Anyone who came up with a way to provide parents with cold beers at marching band competitions would make a fortune.
posted by Daily Alice at 7:17 AM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm bad enough at this that I tattoed an "L" and an "R" to my forearm. It helps!

OH MY GOD, brilliant! Is it conspicuous? Do you get asked about them often? Do you have a picture?
posted by lollymccatburglar at 7:17 AM on October 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


Seriously considering the same tattoos.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:34 AM on October 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


Soooooo many things. A list of the most relevant right now:

- also bad with right and left. When we talk about skew in class, I have to do the make-an-L-with-my-left-hand thing, before telling them "look, skip left skew and right skew, just call it positive and negative". They chuckle, but I firmly believe in demonstrating to them that their profs have the same issues they do, we're just faking the funk too.

- also bad with phones. If I can't see you, I have no conversational cadence and will interrupt you. I'm sorry, it's not meant to be rude. I've tried leaving extra time for responses and then the conversation gets awkward the other way.

- I have two settings: super casual acquaintance and ride-or-die-text-each-other-every-day-deep-in-each-other's-pockets. I'm bad at making medium-grade friends. But I'm working on that, because doctoral school.

- names. So bad with names. I will remember you, I will ask how your grandmother is doing 6 months later, I will ask how that job interview went... but names? Which is inconvenient when you're a college instructor.
posted by joycehealy at 7:41 AM on October 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


Packing. I cannot fold/roll clothes and put them into into a suitcase in any rational pattern and end up just stuffing stuff in there. My wife does such intricate Tetris with packing that she can put twice as much stuff in there as I can. She usually just unpacks what I've done and re-does it (with much sighing and eye-rolling).
posted by octothorpe at 7:48 AM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I also can't do left/right. As I kid I would get in trouble for setting the table backwards (um, teaching me left/right might have helped) so I taught myself to shrug my left shoulder when I think left; I still do this. It's not fast enough for me to do while dancing, so if the teacher says, turn left, I just have to watch others. A tattoo is not a bad idea; I had never considered this before. People who have good proprioception just can't grasp the lack of it.

I can't type people. It's not a spelling thing, it's a typing thing - I type poeple. I have practiced but have not improved.

I'm learning to back up a trailer - it helps to put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel. People (mostly male) always offer to do it for me, but I want to learn.

I'm learning to tell when other people are lying; it requires being suspicious, which feels unnatural.

I have no sense of time. It's hard for me to estimate how long something will take, or if I have time to do a task before leaving the house (hint: I don't). I usually know if it's Saturday, but have to check to see that it's the 14th. I was brought up always being late or in a rush, and have put significant effort into being less so. It isn't a power game, honest.
posted by theora55 at 8:01 AM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm terrible at tape. Tape dispensers hate me. Shipping/packaging tape? Forget it. I have to pull out extra tape and stick it to the handle of the tape gun. If someone doesn't leave it like that, I'll never get the tape started again. If I have to print a mailing label and stick it to a box or envelope, it will take about 4 pieces of tape and they'll all be wrinkled.
posted by BibiRose at 8:06 AM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


Knowing what day it is. Day, not date. Anybody can not know what the date is, but it takes a special kind of bumbler to consistently dress down on Thursdays, go to church on Saturdays, etc. I also never know when it’s a holiday. Where is everyone??
posted by HotToddy at 8:10 AM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


While Roman numerals stump me every single time, I am so hilariously bad at riding a motorcycle that I was asked to please (ma'am) leave a Motorcycle Safety Foundation class for my own safety and the safety of others in the class. It doesn't help that I never learned to ride a bicycle and when my patient biker husband bought me an adult trike, I almost tipped it over.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:21 AM on October 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

I have no sense of time.
This is actually a significant problem for me. I think it's related to my attention deficit disorder, which as someone pointed out is actually an attention regulation disorder. I sometimes focus incredibly intensely, and other times I am extremely distractible. When I'm in hyperfocus mode, two hours seems like nothing, and when I'm in distractible mode, five minutes feels like forever. I don't have any coherent experience of time, so I can't ever tell how much time has passed or how much time something will take. I basically have to have clocks everywhere and look at my watch constantly, or I can't keep track of time at all.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:22 AM on October 14, 2018 [9 favorites]


Refilling the small sugar container by pouring from the larger bag. Even when I think I've managed to do it perfectly, my husband will eventually ask why the kitchen floor is 'crunchy' to walk across.

I cannot make good coffee using our Keurig - the coffee is fine (it's a pod, after all) but I can never, ever, ever get the right amount of milk/sugar/whatever into it. Nobeagle thinks it's intentional/exaggerated because I want him to forever be in charge of morning coffee-making (which is, admittedly, a nice thing) but I also cannot make it when I'm home alone and want a mug of caffeine.
posted by VioletU at 8:40 AM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


Parking. I am so bad at parking. Forget about parallel parking, I'm talking about head-in. Always crooked, usually have to back out to even the side distances.

Key idea to internalize for improving this is that the back wheels cannot go sideways. Not even a little bit. And because most head-in parking involves some degree of turning into the parking space, this is a problem.

So when you're turning into a head-in parking space, the thing you need to be doing until you're very nearly all the way in is trying to almost but not quite scrape the front driver's-side corner of your own car down the side of the one in the next space. Only when you're about three quarters of the way into the spot do you swing the front of your car hard to get it back into the centre.

It's damn near impossible to end up too close to the driver's-side neighbour by this method, even though that's the one you feel like you've been endangering for the whole manoeuvre.
posted by flabdablet at 8:42 AM on October 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


A&C, yes, I think it's related to Attention Deficit. Google calendar & android phone are a big help. I have clocks everywhere, too, but am quite able to misread them.
posted by theora55 at 8:46 AM on October 14, 2018


I still kill houseplants, though.

Whenever you find yourself approaching a houseplant with intent to water, flip a coin. If it comes up tails, walk away.
posted by flabdablet at 8:47 AM on October 14, 2018 [12 favorites]


Bloxworth Snout, your link to the blog post isn't right, but I'd love for you to repost it! I have very similar issues with numerals -- I can do written arithmetic fine, and if someone says a phone number I can say it back, but converting written numerals into words or writing down numerals that someone is saying is really, really difficult for me, especially if there are 4s or 5s involved, because I usually write "4" when someone says "five" and "5" when someone says "four."

Yesterday I ran into a former colleague at the laundromat and completely blanked on her name. Luckily she ran errands for 20 minutes while her clothes were drying and I was able to search my work email on my phone for messages to/from people who worked on her team, which eventually turned up one with her name.
posted by lazuli at 8:52 AM on October 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can't open bags of flour. I bake bread literally every week, sometimes more, and can go through multiple five-pound sacks of flour a month, but every time I have to open one, I find myself staring at the top in bafflement, and then, several minutes later, cursing at the inevitable hole that I've managed to put in the side of the bag. I have no idea why this is so difficult for me.
posted by mishafletch at 8:56 AM on October 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


rather comforted by the many other right-left impaired people. Is there a word for it?

I failed a driving test once because of it. And people no longer trust me to give directions in the car because I'm very good about warning well in advance about upcoming turns and stuff like that, but I'll say that they need to turn left and then have to hastily correct myself right before the turn.

when I hold my thumb and index finger out, all I see is two Ls. I wouldn't under pressure in the moment, be able to remember which one is backwards.
posted by Cozybee at 9:03 AM on October 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


I am not surprised that people have trouble with pancakes as they are an unholy alliance of simultaneous cooking and baking. You can only make so many at a time so you have to keep standing there making more while either other people eat, or the first batch cools to sadness. Also amount of time you have to wait to flip them varies based on the thickness of both pan and batter and how big the pancake is, so you are stuck standing there waiting for the outer edge to dry out and change colour slightly, the top to stop bubbling (which is like trying to prove a negative), and for the sound they make to switch from the uncooked batter sound to the cooked batter sound. There is probably a smell change too, but they are such a pain that I haven't bothered to make them in ages.
posted by Meeks Ormand at 9:09 AM on October 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


This thread is hilarious! My bads:

Numbers. They are mystical meaningless squiggles that my brain wants to make into letters. Which I am also bad at. Which means I was beyond appalling at algebra. Pictures & diagrams I can do.

Similar to the numbers issue, I can't convert minutes to hours - like when a move is listed it says 215 minutes. How many fucking hours is that??? Like 10?!

Opening packages unless it's a cardboard box. I cannot open bags of cereal, packs up gum, those torturous plastic clam shell things, I couldn't even open a fucking brand new toothbrush last weekend.

I can NOT use my phone as a computer. To me, it is a communication device, mostly by txt and email, and instagram. I'm constantly getting yelled at by my partner when I ask her to look up X or Y. "Why don't YOU???" Because I just can't use the damn thing as anything more than a glorified phone. Like the early blackberry's.
posted by yoga at 9:29 AM on October 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


I cannot make good coffee using our Keurig

I wish I had a bajillion spare dollars to buy you a Nespresso machine.
posted by nikaspark at 9:50 AM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


Things I Am Bad At:
• Maths
• Tidying things up.
• Hiding my feelings for people I dislike. I wear them on my shoulder quite prominently.
• Saving money.
• Delaying gratification.
posted by Fizz at 9:53 AM on October 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


My car rule: all directions must be given in turn passenger side or driver side.

No mistakes.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:55 AM on October 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm bad at opening my snail mail *hangs head in shame*
It's one of those parts of adulting that I never got the hang of.

Also numbers. Anything with numbers.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:09 AM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


Seriously considering the same tattoos.

Me, too! Great solution for this annoying problem.

Bonus, my rather judgemental and control-oriented mom will hate this and I can still find some perverse pleasure in flaunting the fact that she's not the boss of me.

Considering that I'm 64 (Mom is 84) I should probably add "acting like a mature, reasonable adult" to the list of things I'm bad at doing.
posted by she's not there at 10:27 AM on October 14, 2018 [12 favorites]


I should probably add "acting like a mature, reasonable adult" to the list of things I'm bad at doing

Randall has you covered.
posted by flabdablet at 10:33 AM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I’m really not very good at laying concrete after all, it seems. I mean, really not.
posted by Segundus at 10:44 AM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


It's so reassuring that so many other people have gruesome spatial skills. Thank you.

I thought of another one - for some reason when I type a word with a capital first letter and the second letter is O, the O almost always ends up capitalized. This is super inconvenient since I work for a county government and have to type County all the time.

And pancakes, yes, solidarity. I'm an excellent cook, but anything on the pancake/crepe/injera spectrum, forget it. My former spouse's fantastic pancake skills might be the only remaining reason I'm sad our marriage ended.
posted by centrifugal at 10:47 AM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


Here's when they were first done--gosh, almost a decade ago now. They were totally "friend is a tattoo apprentice who is giving us free tattoos as practice" tattoos and I would love to get them freshened up someday as they've faded quite a bit. Also I wouldn't especially recommend the placement. If I could do it again, I'd get them on my wrists, as the skin twists about weird on the forearm so sometimes they look like they're halfway on the side of my arm and halfway on the bottom, and also it's hard to check them in winter coats (though "which arm has the L tattoo on it?" is easier to remember than my old trick which was "When I was standing in my childhood home facing the stairwell, the front door would be to the left. Now which side is the left?").

I'm covered in tattoos so people don't tend to really notice them--they're my most inconspicuous, I think--but when I tell them the meaning, they inevitably laugh.

Bonus, my rather judgemental and control-oriented mom will hate this and I can still find some perverse pleasure in flaunting the fact that she's not the boss of me.

Considering that I'm 64 (Mom is 84) I should probably add "acting like a mature, reasonable adult" to the list of things I'm bad at doing.


So, funny story that I don't think I've ever told here because for years it completely horrified me to even think of it, but these tattoos led to what I thought of in my mind for a long time as the "worst thing I've ever done." Right before I got them done, my mom friended me on fb, and I let her, despite my better judgment (we had/have a very complicated and not always healthy relationship). She frequently posted weird comments on my activity. I posted a picture of my new tattoos, and despite the fact that she has a tattoo herself, and I was already covered in tattoos, she commented "yuck!!!" I was really upset, and called up my sister, who was like, "Whatever, just make a filtered group so she can't see your activity. That's what I've done with all of our old, annoying relatives." Still upset, head a jumble, I tried to do just that. I called the group "annoying old people" and added all my older relatives to it. Within minutes I realized that I had accidentally added all the baby boomers and older folx that I know--including people I love very much--to a public GROUP called "annoying old people" (because I was upset with my mom, really) which they could see, and not a private list, and I quickly changed it to something like "relatives" but a bunch of people sent me confused messages, and I claimed to have been hacked, and hid under my desk and had an enormous panic attack. My 90-year-old grandma-in-law's very generous response still sticks in my head, "I was sure someone else must have done that, because it didn't sound like you." To this day I only very reluctantly mess with fb privacy settings because you never know what will go wrong.

So anyway, yeah, your mom will probably hate it, and also, I am not very good at managing facebook privacy settings.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:57 AM on October 14, 2018 [33 favorites]


I have never once been able to show up on time for something. I’m routinely 5 minutes late for everything, including supremely important things like job interviews and flights. If I hadn’t booked a room at the venue of my wedding I would have been late for that.

I’ve worked with coaches and counselors on this and always fall back to 5 minutes late pretty quickly. My wife sets the clocks five minutes ahead which doesn’t work and drives me crazy.

I realize it’s rude to anyone who might be waiting on me and I feel bad, but there’s always one last thing that absolutely requires my immediate attention before I leave.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:05 AM on October 14, 2018 [10 favorites]


rather comforted by the many other right-left impaired people. Is there a word for it?

ISTR it's an aspect of or neurologically related to dyslexia?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:07 AM on October 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh, I'm bad with the time thing too. My spouse has started just lying to me about when we need to arrive places, which works pretty well.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:07 AM on October 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Parallel parking. There I said it. Don't tell my wife I actually admitted it.
posted by 4ster at 11:33 AM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


"annoying old people"

I am laughing so hard, while simultaneously cringing, that I am pretty sure I'm going to hurt myself.
posted by VioletU at 11:33 AM on October 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


I am a horrendous housekeeper but that's a longstanding defense mechanism I am I hope about to leap into correcting.

SPORTS. Eff the sports. Except, in an odd stroke of one day I will live in Canada just like learning French in school, floor/street hockey.
posted by wellred at 11:58 AM on October 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Add me to the undiagnosed facial blindness category. I'm not as bad as some people I've met. I can recognize those I know well pretty easily. If we've spent a few hours in a room together, I'll probably be able to recognize you in the hallway. But, if there are two white guys with similar haircuts in a film and they change costumes, I'm totally lost. It makes most action films unwatchable alone, though my spouse has gotten used to pointing out the bad guy in each new scene at the theater. (She used to do it for her grandmother, who had other, unrelated problems following film plots.)

Voices, though, I recognize as well as anybody. I've always been astonished at the human ability to recognize voices. Give us three words over a highly-compressed phone line, delivered by a tiny, tinny speaker with all sorts of weird resonances, and we can recognize someone we haven't spoken to in ten years. The subtlety involved is astonishing. (Much like ordinary people's ability to recognize faces, I guess.)
posted by eotvos at 12:05 PM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I actually have a problem being five minutes early, at least. Since I am used to calculating around the T and/or Boston traffic, I leave a thick cushion. If you add it up, I spend a lot of time walking around blocks or sitting in waiting rooms.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:11 PM on October 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Proprioception. I think I have space to walk past that fire hydrant, but really I’m aimed straight at it.

Poker face. Don’t have one.
posted by bilabial at 12:14 PM on October 14, 2018 [9 favorites]


I forgot one: applying drywall mud. I suck at it. It looks like a 1st grader smeared lumpy glue on the wall.
posted by yoga at 12:14 PM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


Really REALLY bad at having my facial expression convey what I’m feeling. Like, here are some pairs of recent actual feelings and things said to me at the time:

Reflecting with satisfaction on current state of life/ “You look melancholy”
Misty nostalgia/ “What are you mad about?”
Enjoying a sublimely delicious meal/“You seem awfully anxious”

On the other hand, if I am annoyed with or dislike someone, especially someone with whom I really need to maintain a good relationship, that seems to come across with perfect clarity. Yay face.
posted by HotToddy at 12:36 PM on October 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm really, really bad at swinging a hammer and other related swinging/striking actions. This includes tasks like using an axe or hatchet, pounding a tent stake or even trying to high five someone. With the hammers and axes and stuff it's not quite bad enough to draw blood every time, but I usually bonk something or it takes forever or is just comically inefficient or clumsy. Only recently have I been able to land consistent high fives with people, too.

I'm also actually pretty bad at knots and even tying my shoelaces. I have about three or four useful knots in my inventory, and thankfully one of those is some kind of half-assed sliding tension hitch that's just the thing for hammock camping and making a taut rainfly.

Being bad at this is weird and bad considering how nomadic I've been and how much camping I actually do. With the combination of the above, one of the weird things I do that I never see anyone else do is I do things like push tent stakes into the ground with my body weight and knees and stuff.

Seriously, with as many thousands and thousands of times I've had to set/strike a camp I should be some kind of knot witch by now.

I'm also pretty uncomfortable on stage and have what I feel is bad showmanship and remarkably bad audience engagement, which is also weird considering how much live DJing and stage time I've had this year and over my whole life being involved with music stuff. It's only been in the last few years where I don't feel constantly awkward whether I'm just being a stagehand/tech or performing.
posted by loquacious at 12:44 PM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


rather comforted by the many other right-left impaired people. Is there a word for it?

ISTR it's an aspect of or neurologically related to dyslexia?


I've seen it related to ADHD, too. The worst thing about it is that I have a fantastic sense of direction. Drop me in the middle of a city and I can find my way anywhere (during the day, it gets more difficult at night), and I can find my way back to anywhere I've been to even just once. But I can't tell you how to get there because I can't tell right from left.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 12:44 PM on October 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


Regarding med school messing up one’s left and right: I have come through with it mostly intact, but within the last couple years watched a video of a lecture by Dr. Paul Farmer, an internationally renowned physician. He tried to point out a detail in a photo, and fumbled over left and right for a moment, before apparently deciding that his audience was all medical anyway, and so he said, “you see there, where the right lung would be on a chest X ray.” I thought that was rather clever.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:52 PM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I've seen it related to ADHD, too. The worst thing about it is that I have a fantastic sense of direction. Drop me in the middle of a city and I can find my way anywhere (during the day, it gets more difficult at night), and I can find my way back to anywhere I've been to even just once. But I can't tell you how to get there because I can't tell right from left.

This is exactly me. Stunning sense of direction, can get to someplace I've been once, but when I give you directions? I'm going to tell you to turn north, south, east, or west, because I have no clue which way is left or right unless I check my left pointer/thumb L...and even then you're probably better off taking my cardinal directions.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:01 PM on October 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


Add me to the "Can't Tell Left From Right Unless I Am Staring At My Hand(s)".
I'm a southpaw, and I always have to double check myself when giving instructions, giving directions, describing something, basically anything that needs the words "left" and "right" in them.
I will literally hold up my hand in front of my face and think "this is my left hand" to calibrate.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 2:34 PM on October 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


I can't say the word 'brewery'. When it comes up in conversation I try to replace it on the fly (usually with something awkward like 'beer factory') but my friends know what's up. 'Oh did you mean 'brewery'? Why didn't you say 'brewery'?' &c.

I also lose words a lot. One close friend loves to remind me of the time I was talking about something in downtown Portland near the Willamette but I had lost track of the word 'river' so I was having a hard time explaining what I meant. I ended up with something like '... you know, the water... that's... in a line'.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 2:40 PM on October 14, 2018 [11 favorites]


Music theory. Like, I'm great at math. I'm good at not necessarily associated facts/trivia/knowledge. But the overlap of those two things that is 'why this thing sounds upbeat and this one sounds morose' or 'jazz lends itself toward improvisation because of this' or why western music is one way and sounds good and so many things that my wife's musician laden family just know or can hear instantly.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:53 PM on October 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


I can not reliably open locks that have keys. I did not have a door that operated with a lock/key until my senior year of high school and, combined with my dismal L/R skills, I just sort of can't do it. What way to turn? How much to jiggle? Lock on the way out or is it already locked? How can one tell? Is this even the key for this door? How can you tell?

Along with this, I am a jokey mess in unfamiliar showers because I have a combination of "Which way do you turn to make it H/C?" and some hypersensitivities so being in a shower that is too hot or too cold or CHANGING will wreck the rest of my day/night. If I have time, I'll just take a bath. And it's understanding that a thing that is really a no-brainer for so many people and just unbearable for me, gives me a lot of empathy for people who feel the same things about computers.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 2:55 PM on October 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


Left/right is definitely my thing. I am terrible. I have so many little tricks to deal with this. ("Write" side, literally pulling up a detailed mental image so I can quickly work it out spatially in relation to myself, etc.)

I have trouble with eye contact and feel like I do too much of it. I have to periodically check with myself about whether or not I'm holding it too little, too. I remember being yelled at by a family member because I wouldn't look at her directly and she thought this was disrespectful. The kicker is that I was basically raised in a way that having too much direct eye contact was disrespectful! Yay!

I frequently feel like I'm outside of myself in social and work situations, like I'm controlling me remotely, because I'm so anxious about whether or not I'm going through the right social script/motions for a particular situation. I'm constantly wondering if I'm going to be "found out", especially since I've started a relatively social pink (or white?) collar job. I think I'm a nice person and try to be very kind and warm but I'm afraid it might come across terribly. Often I'm depressed as I go through the motions and I know people probably think I have dead, serial killer eyes. I'm female so this is 1000x worse.

I'm not diagnosed with anything, so I'm not sure why I have problem with these things and more. I think I just suck at being a regular person, which some of my family has reminded me of pretty often.
posted by Freeze Peach at 2:59 PM on October 14, 2018 [10 favorites]


Damn, Freeze Peach, your family is terrible at familying.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:02 PM on October 14, 2018 [14 favorites]


It's a bit comforting to find out that so many people share my lack of basic skills. The only problem is that I suck at almost everything that y'all have mentioned. Forget spelling, check. Mix up left and right, check. Remember names/faces? No can do. Bad at math, yup. Unable to talk on the phone, I shudder. But I can (with practice) make pretty good pancakes. Except I'm a diabetic and ought not eat pancakes. :(
posted by a humble nudibranch at 3:05 PM on October 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


I cannot crochet. Not to save my life.

The thing is, I can knit, pretty well, enough to make garments people enjoy wearing; I can sew well enough to have done theatrical costuming. So crochet feels as though it should be something I can learn to do.

Ha. I have had multiple people attempt to teach me, and I gave up because one of them said, in horror, "I didn't know you COULD cut yourself that badly on a giant blunt plastic stick!" The yarn goes everywhere. Once I wound up sitting on it, and I still don't know how. I have never successfully completed a single crochet stitch.

This leads me to approach new fiber arts with caution, because either it will be like knitting, in which case I will be able to pick it up after some reasonable initial fumbling, or it will be like crochet and someone in the background will start playing Yakkety Sax. I'll be at a craft fair and someone will be like here, it's nålbinding, and I'll be like, that sounds amazing, let me make sure I have a paid-up insurance policy.

Not being able to crochet has not impeded my day-to-day existence all that much, as these things go, but for sheer annoyance value it's right up there.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 3:18 PM on October 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


Freeze Peach: First of all, *hugs* if you want them. Secondly, you may want to look into depersonalization, derealization, and dissociation in general -- might be something to help you feel less alone. Thirdly, more virtual hugs.
posted by lazuli at 3:21 PM on October 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


/me scans metafilter while taking a break from packing for a two week trip, sees the metatalk Saturday night chat query.

Folding dress shirts.
posted by notyou at 3:25 PM on October 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Was at the pool for some laps this afternoon and remembered on thing that I really can't do: swim the breaststroke. I'm not great swimmer but I know how to do freestyle laps in something resembling correct form but the breaststroke continues to elude me. I just can't figure out how to coordinate my arm stroke with my leg stroke and get any kind of forward thrusts going. I've had private lessons a few times and I'm just hopeless at it.
posted by octothorpe at 4:04 PM on October 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, swimming.
I’m just not aquadynamic.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:12 PM on October 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


This is perhaps oddly specific but I am terrible at telling identical twins apart. I have never had close friends who were twins, but they do pop up in my social circle on occasion. I was on a sports team with a pair of twins for two years and I was never confident which was which until I saw them settled into their positions. I have a pair of twins in one of my classes now and I'll have no idea which one is asking me a question.

The possibility of calling them by the wrong name causes me so much anxiety that I'll say things like "your brother said...." instead of referring to them by name.

I don't generally have trouble with names and faces (at least no more than the average person, I think) but twins are like some kind of bonus level I never got trained to do.
posted by invokeuse at 4:13 PM on October 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


AlexiaSky, hoyland, I would give you great big hugs but I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S YOU. God, I am so bad with faces. I hate it when my acquaintances get new hairstyles. And this was even back when my eyesight was good.

I have a mild blue/green color blindness, but it usually only trips me up in party games and family arguments.

I've always been incredibly clumsy. To the point where my pediatrician used to take me aside and ask me if I felt safe at home. I guess most kids don't trip over their own feet and fall down the stairs? Or tip over picking up a five-pound bag of dog food? "But I really DID walk into a door! I do it all the time!" And with my stupid-high tolerance for pain it was often even worse than it looked
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:14 PM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: party games and family arguments
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:38 PM on October 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


I wear a ring on my left thumb and it's about equally a fashion choice as much as a handy reminder of which is my left hand (I was naturally ambidextrous though preschool forced me to be right -handed, and sometimes I still pick up a pen with my left hand so that throws off things. I also sometimes forget which hand to proffer for shaking hands!). I also think I might have a mild dyslexia because I get lots of things backwards/disordered, but especially any words that contain "p" or "b." God help me when a word contains both. "Probably" is one of the most difficult words for me to ever learn how to spell.

In middle school, I had a homeroom teacher and coach who was a for-real former Barnum & Bailey clown. He proudly and repeatedly proclaimed that anyone could learn how to juggle. He taught EVERYONE BUT ME how to juggle over the course of two years. Most people picked it up in about two weeks. Two years? I was the only one who just tossed the beanbags up and... watched them fall no matter how I tried. I am, I suspect, his only juggling failure in all his decades of teaching.

I also cannot for the life of me fold anything neatly, but especially not the devil's own creation, the fitted sheet.
posted by TwoStride at 4:43 PM on October 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Bloxworth Snout: I have orange/green confusion. I’m not colour blind, I can see the difference, but if I ever need to say the colour of something, there’s a strong chance I will come out with the wrong word.

lazuli: I usually write "4" when someone says "five" and "5" when someone says "four."

I have a thing like this that I assume is synesthesia-related. Sounds like maybe each of you have something similar! The brain sometimes seems to permanently connect wires that aren't actually supposed to be connected!


What I am really good at is remembering what high school you went to if you tell me.

You would do great in St. Louis. That's the standard question people ask here (for kind of complex reasons related to ascertaining who else someone might know, as well as to some degree one's socioeconomic status, alas).


I have trouble with eye contact and feel like I do too much of it. I have to periodically check with myself about whether or not I'm holding it too little, too.... I frequently feel like I'm outside of myself in social and work situations, like I'm controlling me remotely, because I'm so anxious about whether or not I'm going through the right social script/motions for a particular situation.

lazuli beat me to it, and I'm glad it wasn't just me thinking of this: Sounds like some possible depersonalization/dissociation, Freeze Peach. I have some of the same issues with eye contact and feeling kind of unreal in work and social situations. This was a really great academic text on it I bought a copy of a couple years ago, if you're into that kind of thing. It's pretty dense and I haven't finished it, but what I did read was worth reading. And if you feel like you might have any OCD at all as well, as I do, this academic paper was an amazing read that I stumbled on this past week. I recognized myself in both and shared the latter with a few people in my life.
posted by limeonaire at 5:02 PM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I have a thing like this that I assume is synesthesia-related. Sounds like maybe each of you have something similar! The brain sometimes seems to permanently connect wires that aren't actually supposed to be connected!

Yeah, I have a mild synesthesia where numerals have personalities and family relationships (that have held steady since I was a kid). 4 and 5 are married and are a very happy stable couple, so maybe that's why their wires are so entangled in my brain!
posted by lazuli at 5:08 PM on October 14, 2018 [10 favorites]


I can never spell “receive” correctly on the first try (autocorrect helped me out just now). And I am terrible at backing my car up. I can’t seem to hold the wheel to go in a straight line!
posted by saturngirl at 5:26 PM on October 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


In middle school, I had a homeroom teacher and coach who was a for-real former Barnum & Bailey clown. He proudly and repeatedly proclaimed that anyone could learn how to juggle. He taught EVERYONE BUT ME how to juggle over the course of two years.

I was the last kid in my Kindergarten class to learn how to tie my shoes. I was desperate to learn because every other kid who did got their name put on the Shoe Train, which was a train of paper shoes that stretched around the walls of the classroom. The Monday I came in after a weekend of intense work and demonstrated that I could tie my own Keds, the teacher said, “Well, now that the last student can tie her shoes, I guess we don't need the Shoe Train anymore,” and the bitch took it down.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:34 PM on October 14, 2018 [54 favorites]


Add me to the undiagnosed facial blindness category. I'm not as bad as some people I've met. I can recognize those I know well pretty easily. If we've spent a few hours in a room together, I'll probably be able to recognize you in the hallway. But, if there are two white guys with similar haircuts in a film and they change costumes, I'm totally lost.

I wish I knew if it was "actual" faceblindness. Descriptions I read suggest being much worse at recognising people than I am, but then something happens that indicates that I'm perhaps just generally good at compensating. I've honestly started pre-emptively telling people about the time I went to see whatever that Bourne movie with Jeremy Renner was and afterwards asked my friend whatever had happened to the guy with the beard at the beginning that we didn't see again. Who turned out to be the main character with facial hair.
posted by hoyland at 5:40 PM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I do not advise asking me to paint a room. Bad things have been known to occur, and that's with taping and dropcloths. I say no more.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:43 PM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


I have been on this terrestrial sphere for sixty-five years now, and I still have never figured out how the hell one is supposed to deal with Greeting the Approaching Acquaintance Across a Distance.

So, say, I'm at work, walking down a long corridor. At the far end of the hall, walking toward me, is a colleague. Slowly, we approach each other. At some point, one is in the appropriate zone to give a friendly nod and a quick verbal greeting.

But--what the hell do you do while you're getting to that point? It's clear you both recognize each other. Do you maintain awkward eye contact until you're in earshot? Pretend you're distracted by something off to the side or down the hall? Do a nod, and then awkwardly repeat the nod + greeting when you're closer? Gaze blankly (rudely?) into the middle distance?

At times I've been so rattled by the whole thing that I've broken out in embarrassing grimaces or sudden demented wrist-flapping little waves, and then wished for sudden death. (More recently, the advent of the cell phone means I can pretend to have suddenly received a text or call which must be attended to immediately, but you can really only use that one so many times.)

Never having to deal with this again will be one of the greatest joys of retirement.
posted by Kat Allison at 5:49 PM on October 14, 2018 [21 favorites]


Sports involving catching balls (baseballs, basketballs, footballs, but not golf). I was wretched at them as a kid, and have stayed away as an adult.

Many, many years later, an optometrist was looking into one of my dilated eyes after doing some tests, and said "I bet you were bad at baseball." He explained that some small percent of the population have a configuration of rods and cones (and ?) that makes such things difficult. Fortunately, it doesn't interfere with anything else.
posted by dws at 6:10 PM on October 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm going to have to do the practice exam for my driver's license very soon, and I'm really nervous about the left/right thing. What if they tell me to turn right and I turn left and cross a solid line or something???

Oh hey, I did this. I won't lie and tell you it wasn't a big deal--it threw me really badly and I failed the test as a result of lost confidence as much as anything--but I will tell you how I made it through the second time: I just straight up told the examiner that I didn't know my right from my left.

She smiled, nodded, and explained that instead of using words she'd knock on the appropriate side of the front window. For me, this was sufficient. I think it was as much the kindness as the gesture, but both helped. Whatever accommodation you think might help, I do recommend asking for it.

Right and left are arbitrary as hell to a decent chunk of the population, apparently! My grumble is that I'm ambidextrous. I literally can do anything with either hand so handedness (and the directions associated with it) has no meaning for me.
posted by librarylis at 6:22 PM on October 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


I frequently feel like I'm outside of myself in social and work situations, like I'm controlling me remotely

I had no idea until now that this was abnormal. I thought everyone was just way better than me at controlling their flesh robots.
posted by Stonkle at 6:23 PM on October 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


Real thing I'm hilariously bad at: Count me in to the 'spoken numbers' problem. If you rattle off a phone number, I will not catch anything beyond the first four digits unless it's a prefix I am very familiar with. I'm also pretty bad at spelling out loud. I assume this is because I was one of those kids who used to read all the time more than talk to people.

Hilarious thing I'm also hilariously bad at: I've done a polar plunge for the last few years. Every single time I enter the water, something happens. I've tripped over a random sea-worn brick and went face first. I've been accidentally backhanded. Last year I slid on the ice on the sand and practically cartwheeled in.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:29 PM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm loving all the stories of people with some degree of facial blindness, mostly because I have been gifted with weirdly accurate facial memory for some reason and thus keep finding myself on the other end of those interactions. I usually just play along and re-introduce myself but sometimes I use the other person's name too early or accidentally reference an earlier conversation and then they look at me like ??? and I have to explain that this is actually not the first time we have met.

Anyway, my thing: I can't go up and down stairs without looking at my feet the whole time. I don't know what it is, it's like if I try to look forward my brain short-circuits and suddenly I'm clutching at the hand rail trying not to fall. This is particularly fun when carrying things up and down from my second floor apartment.
posted by Basil Stag Hare at 6:38 PM on October 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


But--what the hell do you do while you're getting to that point? It's clear you both recognize each other. Do you maintain awkward eye contact until you're in earshot? Pretend you're distracted by something off to the side or down the hall? Do a nod, and then awkwardly repeat the nod + greeting when you're closer? Gaze blankly (rudely?) into the middle distance?

What helped me was giving up any hope of being taken seriously, which freed me up for the wave and goofy grin.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:50 PM on October 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm a chemist, and so spend significant amounts of time pouring things from one container to another. That, I'm good at. However, I'm absolutely terrible at volume approximation. Putting leftovers into a container, choosing the right size cake tin or saucepan, it's completely hit and miss. I generally end up with a 3/4 empty container, because I choose to err on the side of ridiculously big to avoid the irritation of it not all fitting.
posted by kjs4 at 6:55 PM on October 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm also not good at telling what not to say to kids. I love them, but sometimes I don't know how to talk to them. My parents never talked down to me, which I loved, and they never made a big censorship effort with my movies and books.

Yeah, I really have to work on my kid-filter. Sometimes it's fine...

Son (genuinely puzzled): Daddy, what kind of people are made of sugar and spice?
Me: (not this crap) All people are made of the same stuff.
Son: Do you mean... cells?

And other times it's less fine...

Son: Daddy, can reindeer fly?
Me: What? No; there's no possible mechanism for that. Whatever gave you that idea?
Son: (quietly alarmed)
Me: (dawning realization, far too slow) ...crap
posted by Jpfed at 7:38 PM on October 14, 2018 [27 favorites]


sarturngirl re "receive": when I was a kid (a long time ago), we were taught "i before e, except after c, or when sounded like a, as in neighbor and weigh". Unfortunately, there wasn't an easy to memorize rhyme to incorporated the relatively long list of exceptions to this rule.

As I understand things, this spelling rule is no longer routinely taught in grade school because the many exceptions comprise the utility. Nonetheless, it's all you need to be certain of the spelling of "receive".
posted by she's not there at 7:41 PM on October 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Well, now that the last student can tie her shoes, I guess we don't need the Shoe Train anymore,”

Wow, I'm so sorry, Underpants Monster.
Sending you a virtual Shoe Train all for yourself!
posted by M. at 8:31 PM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I've always had bad handwriting -- my fine motor control isn't great -- to the point that my third-grade teacher shamed me about it in front of the class, holding up one of my papers and informing everyone that "Eyebrows is the only girl in class who still has to write on every other line. All the other girls get to write on every line, because they have nice handwriting. Eyebrows writes like a boy." (So much alarming sexism in three little sentences!)

What funny is, my handwriting has not gotten better -- it's gotten worse since I don't do it that much these days -- but most of my classmates reverted to printing as soon as they were out of grade school and not MADE to write cursive anymore, which I gather a lot of people my age did, so I'm one of the few people under 50 who writes cursive by preference (much, MUCH faster for me than printing!), and people constantly go, "Oh my gosh! You have the prettiest handwriting!"

I do not. I have a SCRAWL. But I've held out long enough with cursive that the bar has been lowered below me, and now my cursive counts as pretty! SUCK IT THIRD GRADE TEACHER.

I've gone from being ludicrously bad at cursive to being in the top quarter of pretty handwriting-havers, without any improvement in quality!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:52 PM on October 14, 2018 [16 favorites]


I'm bad at getting technical problems with IT equipment to replicate themselves, which has been a pain in the arse all the way through my career in IT support. Somebody will report a problem, I'll try to replicate it and whatever it is will Just Work for me. Same thing happens almost every time if I just go and stand near the person who is having the problem and look at their equipment while they try to replicate the issue.

In my family we call this the It Always Works For Stephen effect. Not sure if it's a failing or an actual superpower.
posted by flabdablet at 12:18 AM on October 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I have the "it just works" field, too, and it's actually a huge problem if you work in IT. Even if I don't talk about it or point it out it becomes really obvious after a few weeks or months at every single IT job I've had, to the point where the clients I'm supporting would walk into the room and wave their laptop at me and then walk out without saying a word.

Whatever field or weird quantum force this is can also get crossed up and backfire horribly far above and beyond trying to replicate problems, and it usually seems to only happen when in the presence of someone else with a similar field and some higher end tech being fixed.

Example: I was at a maker space one time and someone was working on a pick-and-place robot used to fill circuit boards with parts. Every time I'd walk into the work cell for the robot it would just freak the fuck out. Like doing totally unlikely and not even remotely programmatic stuff like having the tool magazine start ejecting tools all over the place like a very expensive game of Boggle or a cybernetic popcorn machine. At no point should the tool holder/magazine be launching parts forcefully into the air, much less one after another like some kind of comedy movie prop, but there it was doing just that.

The dialog with the owner/tech trying to fix the thing was really short and sweet. "Huh, that's weird, stuff usually fixes itself around me." "Oh yeah? Get out."
posted by loquacious at 2:13 AM on October 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


These are all great, thank you so much for sharing!

I'm late to my own party but the thing I'm bad at that most consistently confounds and baffles me is small object physics. I can drive a car just fine and anticipate the movement and weight of the vehicle and what will happen if I go round a corner at this angle vs that angle and this speed vs that speed, but when the objects are the size of my hand or smaller it all goes to hell. The worst place is the bathroom windowsill - I'll go to open the window, trying not to knock a bunch of stuff off, and I inevitably knock a bunch of stuff off. But it's not even the fact that it fell off, it's the way it happens...like there was nothing in the way of my hand when I reached out, how could I ever have predicted that actually the side of my wrist would brush against one electric toothbrush, which then ricocheted into the other one and knocked some other stuff over and now suddenly the mouthwash is in the bath and HOW DID ANY OF THIS HAPPEN?!

I'm also terrible at estimating time in casual speech. "The other day" could mean any time within the last fifteen years. I frequently say "hey do you remember [thing that happened] the other day?" to my partner and he's like..."when you say 'the other day', you know you're talking about 2013, right?" and I'm like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ whatever.
posted by terretu at 2:37 AM on October 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


when I hold my thumb and index finger out, all I see is two Ls. I wouldn't under pressure in the moment, be able to remember which one is backwards.

When you're looking at a printed L, the left side is the one with the upright. So using that as a reference, paint the fingernails of both hands in two alternating colours, starting with with the lighter colour on your left pinky and finishing with the darker one on your right pinky.

Now you can glance at your hands at any time and know that Left is the one with the Lighter-coloured thumbnail.
posted by flabdablet at 2:53 AM on October 15, 2018


I can't tell you how old I am without doing the actual math. It seems that some people just know at any given time how old they are, whereas I have to first remember the current year, try to subtract the year I was born, and also have a vague sense of which month I was born and where in the calendar year we currently are relative to that.

As a result, I hate when people ask me my age.
posted by rawrberry at 2:58 AM on October 15, 2018 [13 favorites]


I'm lucky to have been born in a year ending with a zero. So as long as I know what year it is, I can tell you my age, at least if I remember to subtract 1 for dates before December. My kids... well, that takes a bit longer as I'd be ashamed to get those wrong. Just give me ten minutes...

Song titles are what I'm really bad at. I can remember almost every note of something, pretty much all the lyrics, and still have no idea what the song is called, even when the title is often right there in the words.

This is especially problematic as I'm learning to play an instrument. My teacher will ask me if I know a certain piece of music, or will describe how a musical phrase or chord sequence is common to this song and that song, and I really have no idea until he plays a couple of notes. Then I know exactly which songs he's talking about.
posted by pipeski at 3:06 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I am truly terrible at singing. I'm not totally tone deaf, so I can hear that I'm ridiculously off-key, but I can't seem to make my voice do the right thing. This is an issue, because there are a surprising number of people who insist that there is no such thing as a bad singer and I must be making it up, and there are some instances, like religious services and when everyone is singing Happy Birthday, when it's kind of rude just to mouth the words. But trust me: you do not want to hear me sing. Nobody deserves that.

Me too, ArbitraryandCapricious. When I was at school there was a mandatory singing class in which we all had to sing as a group. Think 40 teenaged girls belting out Simon and Garfunkel, that sort of thing. Our singing teacher was one of those who believed there is no such thing as a bad singer and spent much of the introductory session telling us about all the people she had rid of this misconception. Then she made us all sing as a group and walked down the rows listening to our voices. Afterwards she told me to lipsync in her class. I have followed her advice ever since.
posted by tavegyl at 4:37 AM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


My proprioception has gotten better over the years, but I still have blind spot where my head is concerned. I whack it on something at least twice a week and it's always a surprise. I simply have no idea where it is in relation to the rest of my body and other objects in space.

I'm also blind to a lot of messes, which makes housecleaning frustrating. I'll think I've tidied something, and then my partner will point out the bits I've overlooked and I have to explain, no, I'm not lazy, it's just that until you said it in words it didn't exist.

Other spatial things still confound me - I have an early childhood memory of trying to play with the toy that has different holes for the different shaped blocks and being utterly perplexed because no matter how I turned the block, it didn't fit in the hole. Currently, at my retail job, I try to make the money in the till all line up the same way, and I'll often flip the bill I'm holding 5 or 6 times until, by chance, the face orients to the correct direction.

I can make pancakes*, though.




* The trick to pancakes is recognizing that you have to sacrifice the first batch to the pancake gods by prematurely flipping them and getting batter all over the place. The rest of the pancakes will be fine because after you go thru this ritual sacrifice, your pan has gotten hot enough to make the rest of them.
posted by coppermoss at 4:48 AM on October 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm with Basil Stag Hare on the remembering of faces. I AM NOT CREEPY JUST GOOD AT THAT.
posted by wellred at 5:19 AM on October 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


I have no sense of scale. I can't picture how 5cm would look like, or what 10kg would feel like, or anything like that. I once tried to buy some ethernet cable and straight up asked "how long is 5m" - not because I didn't know what 5m is, but because I couldn't picture it in my head and needed to see it spread out.

Usually, like in the case of the aforementioned cable, I end up with way more than I need. I tend to worry that I'm not getting enough and overcorrect by a LOT. Even using rough comparisons, e.g. my height, doesn't really work - I can't seem to translate it unless I'm seeing/feeling things in their actual context.
posted by divabat at 5:44 AM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also I too am terrible at pancakes, and omelettes are beyond me. Probably for the same reasons.
posted by divabat at 5:48 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


  • Bowling
  • Creative naming. I can come up with names if I can decide what the naming convention is (Metallurgical concepts! Cat breeds! Non-white female scientists! Root vegetables! Female names from the Torah! etc) but anything more elaborate is beyond me. I greatly admire the people who come up with drug names.
  • Painting my nails
  • Drawing from my imagination. A contributor to my dropping out of art school. I can illustrate concepts or storyboard narratives, but if you tell me to go draw something to demonstrate a technique, I have to go back to the short list in my head of Things I Can Draw (60s era televisions, robots, long-stem roses, I have no idea why it's these things.)
  • Gravy. I just can't, idk why.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:26 AM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I am really terrible at names and faces. My husband is freakishly good at it.

I am so bad with numbers I’d be pretty good as a contestant on Numberwang.

Don’t know if it’s related but I’m also pretty terrible at estimating distance, height and weight of things. I mean, I can estimate on a relative scale (ie it’s a five min walk away) but I couldn’t really tell you the actual measurement of anything beyond a foot and I’d be way off any weight estimate no matter how much it weighed.
posted by like_neon at 6:26 AM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also in IT, also have the "it just works" field. I joke that I intimidate computers into behaving.

I used to have to write my name in the air to figure out left from right, and I wrote L and R on my hands for my driving test, but I'm much better at it now. I'm bad at being bad at things, I guess? I'm one of those annoying people who's generally immediately quite good at everything and everything I'm bad at I'm either better at now or I don't ever do it because I'm bad at being bad at it.
posted by corvine at 6:32 AM on October 15, 2018


I joke that I intimidate computers into behaving.

I am a great believer in swearing viciously at technology when it fails to do what I want, and I try to encourage all my clients to do the same thing. It's a vitally important step in establishing the correct power relationship between user and machine.

Machines are not due the respect you'd give a dog but, like dogs, they can absolutely sense fear. Let slip that they scare you and they will take liberties.
posted by flabdablet at 6:48 AM on October 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


My competencies tend to fall on the side of acquiring knowledge/intuitions and my incompetencies on the side of acquiring skills. So I have a pretty good memory—to a degree that friends have occasionally called uncanny—a fine sense of direction, a fairly good spatial sense, a competent grasp of design and color, an average or above average ability to intuit social cues when I want/try to, and a pretty broad knowledge of all kinds of facts, opinions, trivia, and often useless information. OTOH, I'm pretty inadequate at most things mechanical or electronic, suck at nearly every team sport, have never really gotten that whole driving thing, can't sing or play an instrument, despite a life-long love of music. Nor can I fold clothes right, wrap packages nicely, or keep a really clean house.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:05 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


"...what things in life are people consistently hilariously bad at."
Bagging groceries. They have no sense at all of the Knapsack problem or structural integrity or load balancing.

+++

I just started thinking (for reasons) about a new project that I'm tentatively thinking about naming "The 'A Certain Oddlystrange Prescient Bucket' Project". It's a 5 gallon bucket of stuff that's a special snowflake version of a toolbox (not toolbox) for a freshly minted undergraduate new adult. I'm gonna pack that bucket all crazy packed with "OMG I actually DO have that" and it's sorta purposefully going to be designed to be a bucket full of WTF from a weird unce that over 4 years magically just happens to have everything they randomly needed that they never knew they would. I'm trying to figure out how to phrase the eventual Ask question(s) because the special snowflake bits are hard to narrow down precisely. But nephew is getting a certain oddlystrange precient bucket from his uncle in about a year....
posted by zengargoyle at 7:27 AM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


when I was a kid (a long time ago), we were taught "i before e, except after c, or when sounded like a, as in neighbor and weigh". Unfortunately, there wasn't an easy to memorize rhyme to incorporated the relatively long list of exceptions to this rule.

We were taught that rule plus the exception sentence, "A weird foreigner seizes neither leisure nor sport at its height."

I do much better with verbal instructions than visual demonstrations. I have driven more than one choreographer crazy asking them to tell me the steps in addition to just showing me.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:47 AM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


A weird foreigner seizes neither leisure nor sport at its height
egrep '.*[^c]ei.*|.*cie.*' /usr/share/dict/words | less
Being saucier, their scientists fancied proficiency at sleight of hand for efficiently freeing deficiencies in the dicier caffeine competencies.
posted by flabdablet at 8:16 AM on October 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm going to have to do the practice exam for my driver's license very soon, and I'm really nervous about the left/right thing. What if they tell me to turn right and I turn left and cross a solid line or something???

Could you put little labels somewhere visible to you as a driver - on the steering wheel, on the dashboard, magic marker on your hands, whatever - to help? Nothing wrong with using a tool like that, and hey, if it's useful for navigation, you could always put labels semi-permanently in any car you drive.
posted by mosst at 8:24 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


ah yes, shoe tying - I hadn't learned by the time my grandparents took me and my older sister to Disney and this infuriated my grandfather so much that he tied my shoe laces together around a post of some sort and then.... walked away while I cried. I still have to tie a second knot in my laces because I worry they'll come undone. Also, matching the tension on my laces. If one shoe comes untied I have to retie both so that they feel the same. For some reason, I can't just tie the one shoe so that it feels the same as the still tied shoe.

And handwriting. Like Eyebrows, I also write more quickly in cursive so I use it, but it is a chicken scratch. And folks now think it's good handwriting. Which, no. But whatever, I just say thank you and keep scribbling.
posted by bilabial at 8:31 AM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm going to have to do the practice exam for my driver's license very soon, and I'm really nervous about the left/right thing.

If you're in a country where the cars drive on the right, you're almost certainly sitting in the left seat in order to drive the car and using your right hand to work the gears.

In the more civilized nations, of course, it's the other way round.
posted by flabdablet at 8:44 AM on October 15, 2018


If you're in a country where the cars drive on the right, you're almost certainly sitting in the left seat in order to drive the car and using your right hand to work the gears.

I don't know about lollymccatburglar, but if I could remember rules like this I could also remember left/right. It's really hard to explain how it's like a black hole where these concepts fall into in my brain. People trying to explain it (as if I'd just never thought hard enough about it before) winds up being the opposite of helping.

I think if you just tell the instructor, they will make it work for you. Way back in the day when I got my license, the testing person said the words but also pointed. Your knowledge of L/R has nothing to do with your fitness to drive, so it's okay to just say you don't really know it.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:58 AM on October 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


Guys I hate this question because I am not hilariously bad at anything. I just hate being bad at things and avoid doing the things I'm terrible at. It's a real problem.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 8:58 AM on October 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


I am also very bad with right/left stuff, and also very ADD, so possibly that is indeed related. Most of the stuff I'm terrible at is related to that: I have the memory of a goldfish, which nothing really helps, and relatively poor executive function that does actually respond pretty well to medication. I went out to run errands Saturday and arrived at one of them without the thing I was taking in to repair. I then proceeded to drive to the wrong store for the next stop. This is just my life, but it's gotten much easier since I learned why it happens and actually come up with ways to remind myself of stuff so that this degree of bad day is relatively rare.

I basically just went home afterwards and indulged in some junk food and didn't, for once, hate myself or think I must be losing my mind, which is good progress from the point where I was originally diagnosed.
posted by Sequence at 9:00 AM on October 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Not being able to crochet has not impeded my day-to-day existence all that much, as these things go, but for sheer annoyance value it's right up there.

I’m *very* competent at knitting. Crochet should be a breeze for me. It is not. I have crocheted some things, but in the end, I’m never actually sure any of it is right. I’m literally guessing on every stitch. I just can’t “see” where the hook should enter at any point. It’s awful and frustrating. I don’t put myself through it any more.
posted by greermahoney at 9:14 AM on October 15, 2018


I can do lots of kinds of complex math without even thinking much about it but I will never be able to add or subtract past the 10s place in my head. 4+3 = no problem. 7+5 = ???? I have to count it on my fingers every time. Even if I just finished adding the same numbers. I can do it very quickly and accurately, but so many people have made fun of me for counting on my fingers like a baby. I'm still very grateful to the college prof who pointed me out to the class and just as I expected the usual jabs said "This guy gets it. Don't jam the easy stuff into your memory. You can count on your fingers easily. That's how I do it - leaving space in my brain for limits and derivatives." I did notice his fingers hitting his palms in a familiar way in later classes so I don't think he was blowing smoke, but either way it was very nice of him to say.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 9:14 AM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm going to do some real bragging right now because it's been a long time since I've been able to say this: I have lost count of the times my boss has called me awesome this week or bragged me up or thanked me. And it feels SOOOOOOOO good to be appreciated.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:21 AM on October 15, 2018 [17 favorites]


It's taken me into my forties to be almost reliably able to associate the concepts of 'left' and 'right' with the spoken words, but there's still a time-lapse. Written info was never much of an issue but tell me to hold up my left hand and I have to go through a little hand wiggling thing to see which hand feels more left. And I'm still wrong about 15% of the time.

Same with things like clock faces, N-E-S-W, and even up-down: the out-loud verbal expression refuses to stay connected to the concept in my brain. These spatial relationships make perfect sense in my head, but my speech recognition is broken. I can't react immediately to it when spoken, or say it out loud when asked, without translating, overthinking, backtracking, and/or saying two words a the same time.

I tried to do a musical theatre dance class in high school and was assigned to be the narrator who stands off to the side instead of running into the other dancers. I'm pretty sure I could have eventually got the muscle memory down, because I could when learning from video, but no one was willing to put up with the chaos in the meantime.
posted by buildmyworld at 11:04 AM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I can't type people. It's not a spelling thing, it's a typing thing - I type poeple. I have practiced but have not improved.

I have a word like that. It’s my name. Goddam it, my name. Every damn time. The weird thing is it hasn’t always been this way. It started about 13 years ago. I distinctly remember the first time I did it. I was like “Huh. That’s funny. I’ve typed my name thousands of times and never done that.” And I’ve proceeded to do it every time since.
posted by greermahoney at 11:14 AM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Shout out to my fello left-right confused MeFites. I keep telling the mister that there’s a lot of us and it’s a real thing, but he continues to treat it as an adorable quirk of mine. I have an excellent sense of direction and my spatial memory is amazing, but if you ask me where something is in the house, I will have to get up and get it for you because I cannot describe to you where it is.

I am fantastically uncoordinated and once gave myself a concussion by hitting myself over the head with a chair. (I was unstacking chairs at a cafe I once worked at.)

I’m terrible at ironing clothes. I make them more wrinkled. This is how the laundry became the mister’s domain, though, so I’m okay with that.
posted by Ruki at 12:02 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can not reliably open locks that have keys. I did not have a door that operated with a lock/key until my senior year of high school and, combined with my dismal L/R skills, I just sort of can't do it.
My office door unlocks clockwise. My apartment door unlocks counter-clockwise. Or perhaps it's the other way around. I'm pretty sure I get it wrong far more than 50% of the time. It seems like the kind of thing that would have become a standard by now. That my home lock continues to spin for several revolutions and make clicking noises if you go the wrong way dosen't help.
posted by eotvos at 12:07 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


If I buy a computer for myself, no matter what I do it is, somehow, quirky. It will have made perfect sense when I bought it, but eventually the model will prove to be quirky in some way. Computers that were not purchased are usually somewhat worse than quirky. Either way, if the trend holds, it will also continue to work until it has to be retired for some reason that isn't failure.

This also holds true for most computer-related or adjacent items, though they are slightly more prone to eventual failure.

And like many people here, I'm bad with names and faces, not very good with right and left, have words that I will never be able to spell correctly, bad handwriting, and have no sense of direction. I've learned to have some sense of time, but it's not very reliable.

On the other hand, I strongly prefer crochet over knitting. But thinking that you should be able to do one because you can do the other is like comparing checkers to chess. All of the pieces move the same way and have the same rules in checkers, while in chess each piece has different basic movement patterns. It isn't a perfect analogy, but I think it works well enough. I'm going to get back to making a simple yet very frustrating shawl that has been driving me mad for several days now.
posted by monopas at 12:24 PM on October 15, 2018


I can do lots of kinds of complex math without even thinking much about it but I will never be able to add or subtract past the 10s place in my head. 4+3 = no problem. 7+5 = ????

Whoa. A kindred soul.

I'm really good at math but there are specific things, like addition, that really throw me off. I have a huge problem with stuff like 8+5=? My brain keeps thinking there's another number there. Near 12...but not 12...14?..no...Lets see its the same as 8+2+3..so 10+3...aha..13! Some wierd number blindness.
posted by vacapinta at 12:32 PM on October 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


A little bit of egoboo: I got a letter from an admiral last week thanking me personally for doing a thing. Which was nice, except that the thing I was being thanked for was just 5% of what I have to do to complete this project, so I'm all, "Well, that's nice, don't thank me yet!"

My boss, sensible guy, points out that at least they're invested in the project (which they generally are not). So yay?

In bragging wrongs, I'm generally pants at all sports in which you hold something in your hand and do something with it: pool, croquet, tennis, softball, bowling, ping-pong, etc. I'm good at skiing, running, climbing, bicycling; but as soon as you add any element of aim to the equation, I'm pretty terrible. It's weird.

I wasn't great at left & right for many years--really into my 30s. But when I started climbing regularly and spent a lot of time telling people "You've got a foothold by your right knee," and so forth, it finally got embedded. I no longer have to actually think about it.
posted by suelac at 12:45 PM on October 15, 2018


G and J. If I'm spelling a word, I have no difficulty in getting the right letter where it should be. If I'm spelling out a word, I 90% have zero problems saying the right word. But if I'm writing down something someone else is saying and they say "gee" or "jay" I need to either look from context (kay en eye something ech tee - knight has a g!), or I need to go "a b c d e f g" sub-audibly in my head, picturing the letters, to get things right. There's a VIP client that we have that I need to do some work with about once every year or two. It's a real estate company known for the three initials of the owner; there's a j and a g in there. I hate it.

I'm slightly on the autistic spectrum, and I share with many above who occasionally walk into door frames, or hit things (or myself) with my arms. Apparently this happens often enough that somehow it was normalized in my head. At one point, I don't remember the full context, but I legitimately asked my wife, "You think I'm graceful, right?" To which she still, 10+ years will spontaneously erupt in laughter to only say, "Graceful..." when I look at her. Getting in and out of the half-height pantry that we've got in the basement is a great source of amusement for my wife. About 25% of the time I'll bonk my head, or stand up too soon hitting my back.

Along with that, I'm pretty bad about not getting food on my shirts combined with really liking bbq and sriracha sauce. Something Violetu seems to find more amusing than not. Less so when I manage to dip not only my, but her, duvet in curry. Fortunately that's just happened once so far.
posted by nobeagle at 1:01 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I am really, really bad at backing out of parking spaces. Apparently spatial reasoning and coordination are also skills I didn't develop terribly well.

I had to buy a rice cooker because my attempts to make rice on the stove always end in a crunchy, mushy, unmitigated disaster.
posted by PearlRose at 1:05 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I am a great believer in swearing viciously at technology when it fails to do what I want, and I try to encourage all my clients to do the same thing. It's a vitally important step in establishing the correct power relationship between user and machine.

Machines are not due the respect you'd give a dog but, like dogs, they can absolutely sense fear. Let slip that they scare you and they will take liberties.


If you don't swear at inanimate objects, they won't learn nothin'.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:06 PM on October 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


You guys don't need tattoos for left and right. If you are looking at the back of your hands your left hand makes an L when you close your fist and extend your forefinger and thumb!
posted by edbles at 1:47 PM on October 15, 2018


> For me it's rice. I cannot make rice!

Yes! Me too! I can't make rice and I can't make coffee. Luckily I have a rice cooker and I'm content with instant.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:53 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm bad at knowing what day it is. When I was being tested by a neurologist once after a head injury he asked what the date was, and I said "um... November? Maybe the middle?" and then had to reassure him that that was normal, for me.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:57 PM on October 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


I can't type people. It's not a spelling thing, it's a typing thing - I type poeple. I have practiced but have not improved.

I have a word like that. It’s my name. Goddam it, my name. Every damn time. The weird thing is it hasn’t always been this way. It started about 13 years ago. I distinctly remember the first time I did it. I was like “Huh. That’s funny. I’ve typed my name thousands of times and never done that.” And I’ve proceeded to do it every time since.


I feel you. My spelling abilities are fine, but I'm a terrible typist but muddle along without many errors as long as I go a little slow. But the one word I type wrong every.single.effing.time?

"The". Always comes out teh, and I cannot untrain my muscles and get it right. Such a stupid, stupid, frustrating tiny little thing that confounds me every day.

I'm also bloody awful at estimating how long any given task or project will take. Three hours? Nah, try two days.
posted by vers at 2:05 PM on October 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


I can't type people. It's not a spelling thing, it's a typing thing - I type poeple. I have practiced but have not improved.

For me the word "Thanks" comes out as "Thnaks." It's so consistent that I set up an AutoHotkey script on my computer to automatically correct it on my work PC.
posted by JDHarper at 2:50 PM on October 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Bread. Cakes spring out of the tin like an eager puppy that's pleased to see me. Pastry is short when it should be short and crisp when it should be crisp. Cheesecakes wobble, biscuits snap (or crumble), my ganache never splits and my meringues are always stiff (hur hur).

But sodding bread. Bread sits there sullen in the tin, like a grumpy teenager, recalcitrant and stodgy. Also like a teenager.

I swear, there's something in my body chemistry that just straight up murders yeast.
posted by aihal at 3:00 PM on October 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Oh! I thought of another.
Our house is an old New England victorian... It has some great curb appeal, but it is old and has an old New England basement. Along the foundation are several small windows that I've replaced, and we've got stuff up off the basement floor on shipping pallets 'just in case' - which we occasionally need to get to. Our house has steam heat radiators. These are *not* random sentences thrown together.

I cannot cross a specific part of my basement without whacking my head to the point of near concussion every. damn. time. However the daylight from the window comes in, the 3 inch black cast iron pipe is effectively invisible to me and I have full on laid myself out on the concrete on multiple occasions. I know where it is. I plant for it... I cautiously approach it... but it is as comical as Charlie Brown's kite eating tree... that pipe wants to murder me.

On edit: also, I regularly warn my wife to avoid the pipe so she doesn't hit her head... she is not tall enough to hit her head on the pipe. I know this, but... I don't know this.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:14 PM on October 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Pool. (billiards).

I am so terribly bad at pool that people thing I'm putting them on. I tell people all the time, i am among the worst pool players in the world, and they don't believe it. I'm so bad that now I suggest we play pool when I'm on dates because it's a real winner for me. I can try as hard as I like and still pretty much anyone with a pulse can play me and win every time. Turns out, people like beating me at ANYTHING and pool is that one thing where anyone can best me. So I use that to my advantage from time to time. What can I say, I make lemonade out of lemons sometimes.
posted by some loser at 4:10 PM on October 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


I can't open bags of flour. I bake bread literally every week, sometimes more, and can go through multiple five-pound sacks of flour a month, but every time I have to open one, I find myself staring at the top in bafflement, and then, several minutes later, cursing at the inevitable hole that I've managed to put in the side of the bag. I have no idea why this is so difficult for me.

mishafletch: Happened to me again this afternoon and I've been dealing with this issue for as long as I've been the primary household flour bag opener (40+ years). It never occurred to me that this was evidence of failure on my part—I've always the blamed whoever is in charge of package design.
posted by she's not there at 4:31 PM on October 15, 2018


Shout out to my fello left-right confused MeFites. I keep telling the mister that there’s a lot of us and it’s a real thing, but he continues to treat it as an adorable quirk of mine. I have an excellent sense of direction and my spatial memory is amazing, but if you ask me where something is in the house, I will have to get up and get it for you because I cannot describe to you where it is.

Ruki: sounds like a sweet man.

A man I was dating once told me that my left/right issue was "adorable in a girlfriend, annoying in a wife". That wasn't the reason the relationship ended, but it could serve as an accurate snapshot of his character.
posted by she's not there at 4:37 PM on October 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


I don't swear at technology. I tend to give it the James Herriot treatment -stroking it on the flank and murmuring, "Come on, girl, you can do it!"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:39 PM on October 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


The Underpants Monster: Do you lube up the ol' forearm and get stuck in as well?
posted by elsietheeel at 4:48 PM on October 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


There have been times I was up past the elbow in a copier that I wished I had some damn lube.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:52 PM on October 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


You and me both, bb.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:03 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I couldn't snap my fingers or whistle until my late 20's. I'm OK with snapping now but I still can't whistle very well. According to my wife I can't wink. I can close one of my eyes independently of the other but I do this by scrunching up that side of my face which is apparently the wrong way of doing it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:23 PM on October 15, 2018


I've completely lost the ability to write cursive, despite having been fully competent in it during grade school. I can only write block script now. The only thing I can still write in cursive is my own name, which is gradually becoming less and less understandable.
posted by aramaic at 7:03 PM on October 15, 2018


This thread feels suspiciously like the interview question "What is your greatest weakness?" To which I always sigh dramatically and reply, "Sometimes I think I care too much." And that's all you're going to get out of me.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:15 PM on October 15, 2018 [13 favorites]


Oh my god. I can't tell left and right apart for the life of me, either! I've never felt so understood by others before.
posted by PearlRose at 7:21 PM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I finaly remembered Left/Right in Japanese (hidari/migi) because of an anime where some guy got almost infected by a parasite but it didn't quite finish which left him with this talking mouth in his Right hand that he named (yep) Migi. So, just find a L/R name pair and give your hands personalities and make sock puppets and chat filter between them until you remember their names.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:01 PM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


If you are looking at the back of your hands your left hand makes an L when you close your fist and extend your forefinger and thumb!

Clearly one of them makes an L and the other makes a mirror L, but figuring out which is doing what requires referring to an actual printed L, not always available.

Working out which hand needs to be held up to the forehead to signify "Loser!" takes quite some time, also. So, so easy for that one to backfire.
posted by flabdablet at 8:54 PM on October 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


The multitudinous failure modes that clearly exist for left-right discrimination are emblematic of those that exist for every other human commonplace. Frankly, it's astonishing that any of us actually remain capable of existing in the world at all.

This is also a feeling I frequently have about technology. I cut my tech teeth in the Apple II era, when CPU operating speeds were in single-digit megahertz, any pulse shorter than ten nanoseconds was something the logic analyzer would show as a "glitch" that any respectable designer would seek to eliminate, and "gigahertz" was a term reserved for microwave radio types initiated into the mysteries of striplines and waveguides and similar dark magicks.

And yet here we are in 2018, where data routinely moves ridiculous distances over what looks like ordinary telephone wiring at rates that pack tens of bits inside each of those "glitches", between computers that can run thousands of whole instructions in the same kind of time, and I can casually pull data from the other side of the world hundreds of times faster than my Apple II could get it from its own directly attached disk drives. Those speeds are now just routine for commodity consumer-grade gear. Nobody gives them a second thought.

Speaking of disk drives, any cheap off-the-shelf hard drive now contains mechanisms capable of physical positioning accuracy best measured in nanometres; those huge bloated microns are so 20th century. The signals that come off their read heads bear no resemblance at all to anything that a 1980s engineer would have recognized as resolvable into ones and zeroes. And yet these machines achieve failure rates so low that most people just don't notice data corruption ever, let alone regularly.

How the FUCK any of this stuff continues to work, let alone how billions of mass-manufactured instances of it all continue to work, is a constant source of amazement for me. When you get me in to fix your PC, I'm more surprised that it was working before you called me than that it has now failed.

And yet, and yet... the person currently being astonished by the sum total of human engineering is himself a massive interconnected pile of molecular-scale IT running at speeds that make our own efforts look like Kubrick apes banging bones on rocks. Nobody designed this shit, it just threw itself together. Nobody QA'd it before release. No way can it possibly hang together. It's just ridiculous. And yet, for the most part, it does.

It's not so much turtles all the way down as absurd all the way down. So when I can manage to tell my left from my right, or when I can manage not to misrecognize that bank employee as the one I talked to last Friday, or when I can find my glasses or my coffee cup after forgetting where I left them? So lucky. So outrageously, freakishly, stupidly astonishingly lucky.
posted by flabdablet at 9:47 PM on October 15, 2018 [16 favorites]


Barring exceptional mnemonic circumstances (Jenny: I’ve got YOUR number), I can retain only 4-6 digits in sequence in my working memory. This is enough to write down a date, or if I’m quick and convert some digits into double digit numbers (“you said 8-6-7-fifty-three-oh-nine?”), an area code less phone number. Anything else is a total boondoggle and my only hope is to grimly repeat the numbers to myself, over and over without interruption, until I write them down or complete the task. Without this approach my error rate is at least 25%, and higher as the number of digits increases. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve reliably gotten my own cell phone number reliably correct instead of inverting the 5th and 6th digits, which I still did under stress a month ago. When I picked a Google Voice number, I made sure it only had four unique digits, and that the final digits could be read out as double digit values that sounded good and memorable when spoken aloud, which helped a ton.
posted by deludingmyself at 9:53 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


If you're in a country where the cars drive on the right, you're almost certainly sitting in the left seat in order to drive the car and using your right hand to work the gears.

I’m pretty much equally comfortable driving on either side of the road. I’m even ok driving a US style car in a U.K. style road situation (and probably vice versa, though I haven’t tried that yet).

But that just makes me more confused about left and right. Are you calling it “right hand drive” because I am sitting on the right side of the vehicle (UK) or on the right side of the road (US)? Or, if I’m sitting on the left side of the car, shifting with my right hand, on the right side of the road, passing on the left, terminology just seems confused.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:21 PM on October 15, 2018


"Right-hand drive" refers to the side that the steering wheel is on. I don't know anywhere that the driver isn't next to the center line, except with expat cars, so RHD always uses the left lane and vice-versa.
posted by rhizome at 11:16 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty good at left / right and really good at recognizing faces / names; I can't catch or explain technical systems. At least one of these is a career-limiting characteristic.
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:34 PM on October 15, 2018


Right-left continues to evade me, even at this age, even though starboard-port is no problem. Also - cannot make grilled cheese sandwiches for myself without burning one side. Other people? No problem. Me? Without fail, it gets messed up. My husband sometimes takes pity on me and makes me one that isn't burnt...
posted by susanbeeswax at 2:20 AM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


My friend was all proud for having learned to remember port and starboard with the sentence, "When I got to the party, there was only port wine left."

Icouldn't resist adding, "There was only port wine left on the sideboard.

"Damn you!" he said, shaking his head. "I'll never remember it now!"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:50 AM on October 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


I just came back to brag that I can make practically perfect pancakes without ever having to sacrifice a single one to the pancake gods. Because, well, I had pancakes for lunch and I was thinking about this thread.

Unless those pancake gods are in fact me snacking on the first one to make cooking the rest of them and waiting more tolerable. Or perhaps the dogs if they're really good. Pancake dogs?

And we're talking absolutely beautiful 8-10" pancakes, perfectly golden brown, good enough to make Waffle House look bad.

The trick is waiting for your pan or griddle to actually get hot enough before dropping any batter at all, which is just about under the smoke point of, say, butter. And if you're using a good nonstick pan you don't need to oil or grease the pan at all. Butter, oil or spray is just going to char and make things sticky and messy.

Most people also flip pancakes way too early and second guess themselves. Before flipping you want to see the pancake batter go from glossy to very dull and matte around the edges for a good inch or more - pretty much dry to the touch. The center of the pancake should be evenly covered with bubbles that leave well defined holes if you bump the pan to knock down the bubbles. And the time to flip is just a few seconds after bubbles stop forming and rising at all.

If you're scorching pancakes to get to this stage your pan is too hot. If it takes more than a few minutes and your pancakes are coming out mushy, flat or pale, it's too cold. You actually need a specific temperature range to activate the baking powder/soda vigorously to form good structural bubbles, which is why "low and slow" pancakes are so flat and unappealing, and often still taste like baking soda.

I'm also a whizz at most of the breakfast foods, which is actually a little strange because I am not well known for actually eating breakfast - much less being awake for it - unless it's for dinner. But I can cook an egg pretty much any which way including absolutely beautiful, fluffy-moist omelettes (Thanks Julia Child!) and an uncanny knack for perfectly boiled eggs, even in large quantities.
posted by loquacious at 3:24 AM on October 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


So maaaannnnyyyy things. Parking, in particular, parallel parking. How Bad? Passengers have gotten out of the vehicle guiding me in after several failed attempts. Remembering faces and names is another one. So many awkward moments due to that flaw. I can't write or edit. Which is a shame since I teach in that area. My publication record blows due to my avoidance of writing and lack of editing skills. Finally, being charming and smooth.
posted by jadepearl at 3:36 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Mom swore by the electric skillet for pancakes. She said it was really easy to keep the temperature right and even. And I kick myself, because I found one just like hers in mint condition for a dollar at a rummage sale, and I'm pretty sure I accidentally threw it away while it was still in the bag.

Or perhaps the dogs if they're really good. Pancake dogs?

I can't remember if I've mentioned this here before, but my childhood dog King loved catching pancakes in the air like Frisbees.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:40 AM on October 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Wrapping presents. I do origami. I've been doing origami for more than thirty years. I can fold a flapping bird with my eyes closed. I cannot wrap a present neatly for love nor money.

Also, I can juggle but I'm hopeless at both throwing and catching in any other context. (In one Games lesson, we had to take turns to throw the rounders ball as far as we could. At the end of the lesson, the teacher looked down the list of distances, and asked me, in front of the whole class, "Is this number right? Oh. Ah - did you throw with the wrong hand?")

I can't pass a driving test. It's the perfect intersection of exam nerves and social anxiety. "I've put you in for your test," said my first instructor, "because you might pass, and if you don't, you'll have seen that it's nothing to be afraid of and you won't be nervous the second time." He really didn't understand me at all. Let's just say that that's not how it went.

It's probably just as well I can't pass the driving test, because I have no idea how people have a feel for where the edges of their car are. The wing mirrors help with the sides and back, but I literally can't see any part of the car's bonnet, and it's not part of my body: how am I supposed to know where the front corners are? As I'm very risk-averse, if I had a car, I suspect at least 50% of journeys would end with me just driving home again because I couldn't find anywhere to park where I wouldn't be scared of scraping something.

Are there really people who know which way is north on an overcast day, when they can't use the direction of the sun to help? Definitely can't do that.

The worst thing, though, is that I can't handwrite any more. My hand cramps up after about a paragraph, and I can keep going if I have to, but it deteriorates to an utterly illegible scrawl.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:14 AM on October 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


I still have to tie a second knot in my laces because I worry they'll come undone. Also, matching the tension on my laces. If one shoe comes untied I have to retie both so that they feel the same. For some reason, I can't just tie the one shoe so that it feels the same as the still tied shoe.

Just to cover the unlikely possibility that there exists on this planet a single person who has never visited Ian's Shoelace Site, here is Ian's Shoelace Site.
posted by flabdablet at 4:44 AM on October 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


The left/right thing is interesting because of the 3 dimensions of up/down, forward/back, left/right... two have external things that are a gradient (gravity/up/down) and (at least) a bifurcation of +/- (vision/front/back because we don't have eyes in the back of our head and only see in one direction) while the last remaining left/right doesn't. That implies (to me) a difference in the ability to assign arbitrary labels to spacial directions based on having a gradient of sorts. Evidently the symmetry breaking or our non-symmetrical organ placement isn't doing the trick and the just assigning a label without a gradient isn't doing the trick. And wondering if a suitable gradient across left/right would make a difference... and actually holding arguments between Lefty and Righty wouldn't apply the same sort of gradient as putting L/R permanently. Because if one works the other would, and if one doesn't work the other wouldn't and one is L/R tattooed. But one goes through the physical route of moving your head and looking in directions to see a mark and the other is going hey righty wake up and hit return.

If there's research out there along those lines, I'd just like to read it.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:07 AM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


The guy who administered my road test turned out to be an old acquaintance, and he totally talked me through the parallel park. I didn't ask him to, or hint that I needed help; he just did it. (This was before my eyesight went to hell.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:24 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm also completely unable to tell left and right, and since I'm a giant nerd working in the disability field, I looked this up and it's called directional dyslexia. It's a very specific learning disability. In high school my friends helpfully wrote LEFT and OTHER LEFT on the toes of my shoes.

I also struggle with pancakes, and the added bonus that I cannot have gluten makes it that much more complex. Dinner involving three pots and another three appliances, make my own curry powder, improvise dessert? No problem. Pancakes? DOOM.

I'm horrible at telling if someone is attracted to me. If someone across the room is into my friend, I'm all like, oh yes, this is obvious, check out what they're wearing and the way they're looking at you, it couldn't be more apparent. If someone is into me, I'm hopelessly confused about it. I'll be like, "Well she came over last night and she had this shirt on that couldn't have been warm enough and she wrote me a cute poem and she kept touching me and asking if I wanted a backrub while we were watching the movie, I have no idea what's going on" because genuinely, I will have no idea what's going on. I basically need letters of fire nine feet high.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:45 AM on October 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


Zengargoyle, I realized as I read your comment that I wear a silver bracelet on my left wrist, often with additional bracelets, have done for 20+ years, and never thought to use that as my L-R aid. So, bad at the blindingly obvious too, I guess.

B&s, I am flirting-impaired, as well, and utterly unaware of being hit on unless thee are neon signs involved.
posted by theora55 at 6:03 AM on October 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


starboard is real easy to remember. First, Europeans were sailing south for trade... to the left, was port, and to their right, after the sun set were just the stars - starboard...
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:06 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can't swallow pills, even small ones. I just chew them up and eat them with water (hopefully I never need something with an enteric coating). Amoxicillin tastes pretty bad but I got over it and have become inured to the various flavors by now.
posted by exogenous at 6:53 AM on October 16, 2018


I am terrible at putting events in my own personal past in chronological order. Did this major event happen before or after this other major event? I basically have to construct a crazy-map in my mind of various context clues and puzzle over it for an extended period to be able to tell you, and when I do I'll probably be wrong.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 8:20 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


cursing at the inevitable hole that I've managed to put in the side of the bag. I have no idea why this is so difficult for me.

Here is apparently a safe space to say that I have various letter openers and yet I can not open an envelope without making it into a hash of ripped paper and resultant paper cuts.

starboard is real easy to remember.

I just laugh and laugh. I'd need to be able to remember WHERE EUROPE IS relative to the SUN to even understand this. Left and Port having the same number of letters is the only way I don't get tossed overboard.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:42 AM on October 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


Seconding "port" and "left" having same number of letters as a reasonably foolproof way to remember.

I'm bad, like ridiculously bad, at finding things by looking for them, but good at finding things if I already know where they are. If I set an object down in a spot ten years ago, I still know where it is and can go right to the spot (oh we had a little hardware piece for this ten years ago, let me see, ah here we go). But if you say "hey go look in the pantry, do we have beans" or whatever, I'll be literally staring at a can of beans front and center and will still tell you nope, don't see any beans.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:31 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can't pronounce "rural" to save my life. I used to say "opposite of urban" when I needed to say it. My brother taught me that you could just slur your way through "rule" and it would be fine, so that's what I do now, when I have enough time to think about it. Otherwise I just turn red and try to find another word.

I also do not have a poker face, and my thinking face looks like I am angry. (Despite that, I often get stopped for directions when I am out walking, even though I am pretty terrible at providing directions.)
posted by minsies at 9:38 AM on October 16, 2018


Saying "rural juror" over and over is standard practice for this kind of problem. ;)
posted by rhizome at 10:14 AM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Right-left continues to evade me, even at this age, even though starboard-port is no problem

My sense of direction is pretty terrible, so I keep navigation apps in North-up mode to reinforce it. I still have to think about it, however ("Heading west, need to go north, turn, um, er, let's see, left NO RIGHT"). But I used to play combat flight simulators and I have no trouble orienting myself using aviation clockwise-circle degrees: North is 0, East is 90, South is 180 and West is 270 ("I'm heading 270, need to go 0 bank right BOOM").


The trick is waiting for your pan or griddle to actually get hot enough before dropping any batter at all

My Mom taught me that the pan is hot enough when a drop of water dances instead of spreading out.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:36 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm bad, like ridiculously bad, at finding things by looking for them, but good at finding things if I already know where they are. If I set an object down in a spot ten years ago, I still know where it is and can go right to the spot (oh we had a little hardware piece for this ten years ago, let me see, ah here we go). But if you say "hey go look in the pantry, do we have beans" or whatever, I'll be literally staring at a can of beans front and center and will still tell you nope, don't see any beans.

My wife (who used to study attention when she was a researcher) says that, unlike most people that have a "spotlight" of attention, I have a "laser pointer"... so if something is just next to what I'm looking at, it might as well not exist.
posted by Jpfed at 11:42 AM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


I can't proof-read my own writing. If you misuse "its" or "it's" then I will spot it in a fraction of a second in a wall of text. If I am writing, however, the odds are good that I'll use the wrong one and the odds are also good that I won't notice it.

I've only spelled the word "medieval" correctly on the first attempt once, and that right there was it (because I was paying attention. My brain knows that it starts "mid.." and will type it that way).

I have an outstanding memory for pointless shit, but I can't remember where I left my car-keys, wallet, etc. This, paradoxically, means that I never lose them because I always put them in the same place every time I come home.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:55 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also, I had no idea so many really smart people have difficulty remembering right from left or other spatial navigation skills, and I find the whole concept mildly frightening that you're out there and even possibly driving, and am also scared of the whole concept and thinking about what it must be like. Because I'd go frickin' bonkers with the confusion.

I'm also slightly jealous because I can't not know where I am, basically ever. Getting truly lost is a weird, novel and fleeting experience for me. I can be thizzing my fool face off at a party and instead of getting lost I'm just even more acutely hyperaware of exactly where I am on the globe, which cardinal compass direction I'm facing, and worse, I can feel and sense the Earth rolling through space. Thinking about this and visualizing it with clarity in my mind's eye is actually a common past time and I can zoom in and out of my mental map like I'm walking around with Google Earth in my head.

And I generally operate under the assumption that everyone can do this.

I can also recognize from still photographs almost any general location on the planet based on it's plants, the quality and angle of the light, the night sky or other spatial and geographical clues, which is actually really annoying when watching fictional movies because my brain will start yelling "Hey, that's not the Sahara! That's the Mojave!! For fuck's sake, that's the Chocolate Mountains in the background and you're at Rabbit Dry Lake!!" which is especially weird since most of my actual traveling is pretty limited to the west coast of the continental US. If I can't guess the nearest city or bioregion, I can usually at least guess what country it's in with a fair amount of certainty.

I spent an inordinate amount of time growing up with National Geographic and similar mags, I guess, but, yeah, show me a picture of an Amazonian jungle, an Central American Jungle and a South East Asia jungle and I'll probably be able to name them correctly.

One thing I'm really bad at is remembering names and dates and birthdays, or even paying attention to holidays. I've forgotten my own birthday at least twice now. I just recently spent almost a year thinking I was a year older than I actually was and had to remember my birth year to remember how old I was.

I'm also generally just bad at managing time. My coping strategies for being on time to anything at all mean being prepared very early, arriving early and using an actual watch on my wrist or alarms or checkpoints set up in my phone. IE: You need to be finished packing at this time, out the door at this next time, traveling during this time.

So if we ever have an appointment, I'll probably be there 15-30 minutes early and patiently waiting somewhere out of sight so I can walk in a reasonable few minutes early. People think I'm punctual, but I'm actually not because I'm a massive procrastinator. I just know myself well enough to get myself there much earlier and to compensate for my procrastination.

I'm getting better at remembering names through a mnemonic that involves me visualizing writing out their name. I rarely forget faces, though, and will recognize someone I know from a block away. Ask Errant! I was at a friend's art show last year and easily spotted him across a busy street. And I'll usually see at least one person I know from town in Seattle and I'll recognize them from hundreds of feet away just based on their gait, mannerisms and clothes.
posted by loquacious at 12:35 PM on October 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: I generally operate under the assumption that everyone can do this.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:42 PM on October 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


The main reason I don't have trouble with left and right is that I'm like, massively, super right-handed. Whenever my right hand has been incapacitated from injury or surgery, I've been left with the dexterity of the Lost in Space robot.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:36 PM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


OTOH I'm horrible at giving directions, especially verbal ones, especially especially verbal directions for drivers in motorized vehicles because I've been a life long pedestrian and cyclist. I can tell you exactly where I am but if you need me to tell you how to get there, expect weird landmarks and descriptive directions. I can even be in the car with someone and have issues issuing verbal navigation cues or otherwise navigating as smoothly as I do normally while solo.

Thankfully I don't have to do this very much any more and I can just send an address or geotag.

And while solo I can wander wherever I want. If I find a trail once, I'll find it again and remember most of the features and will notice when things change. I can even draw fairly accurate maps from memory.

And if you're ever hanging out with me and I don't know where I am I have a tendency to talk about it and say something like "Woah, I have no idea where am!" like something cool just happened to me, because it's really that novel and interesting to me, not unlike a puzzle. This still happens every so often even in my small town when riding around with friends and we go through a neighborhood or road that's new and difficult to mentally map, and even then I'll generally be able to point myself in the general direction of home or other macro features, and will readily be able to point to geographic north within about 10 degrees.

This is making me think more about the time management and other things I'm really bad at and I wonder if there's a thing where people who are really good at spatial/geolocation stuff tend to be bad at time awareness and management, and vice versa.

Which may explain why certain tasks or jobs that need both (like being a pilot) are fairly rare and difficult skills to master.

And I'm not really trying to be superior or snooty here., there's tons of things I'm horrible at including being clumsy as hell.. but the whole concept of forgetting right from left or other spatial positioning skills is really foreign and deeply weird and interesting to me.

If I experienced that I'd probably think I was having a stroke and there was something neurological going on that I needed to get checked out right away. I would be so upset and confused if that suddenly started happening to me.
posted by loquacious at 1:52 PM on October 16, 2018


I’m ambidextrous but I don’t think it has any particular relationship to my inability to tell left and right. I remember my mom explaining left and right to me when I was quite small and thinking “okay, there are probably rare times when grownups find that useful for highly technical things, but this can’t be something people use regularly because it doesn’t make any sense.”

And it doesn’t make sense, and never will. All of us who have this have already heard all the tricks for remembering, but no matter what kinds of prompts I have they don’t bring sense to a nonsensical system. It’s a learning disability. You don’t just get a mnemonic that works for people who don’t have the disability and poof, it vanishes.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:54 PM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


OTOH I'm horrible at giving directions, especially verbal ones, especially especially verbal directions for drivers in motorized vehicles because I've been a life long pedestrian and cyclist.

Yeah, it wasn't until the out-of-town driver had pulled away with an even more confused look on his face that I realized "cut through the park" wasn't great advice for someone operating an SUV.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:35 PM on October 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Zero sense of direction? Check.
A daily struggle with left/right? Check.

An odd personal quirk no one else has mentioned: I excel at recalling random facts/statistics/stories I've picked up through the years, and am utterly useless at recalling where, when or from whom I heard them. A study suggesting a connection between gut bacteria and depression? Perhaps my boss told me, yesterday, that she'd read about it Harper's Magazine. Or maybe I heard of it on NPR in 2016. Or maybe my dad emailed me some link to a website back in March. I can talk about this study in great detail, with accuracy. But if you want the source, so you can read it yourself? You're gonna have to consult Google and hope for the best. Sorry!

Because none of these packets of info that my brain has squirreled away for freaking eternity exist in any context whatsoever. And context can be, well, important. 'What do you mean Angie is secretly planning to reassign Greg to another department on Wednesday? Since when? And who told you that?!'

And I'll just shrug. No, I'm not trying to protect my source. It's just been 24 hours (or possibly a month?) and therefore I have no idea who passed that particular nugget of info my way. Um...sorry?
posted by Lycaon_pictus at 3:18 PM on October 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


Loquacious, I'm sitting here laughing ruefully because I can't begin to imagine what it would be like to have that kind of directional awareness. I'm clear on R vs. L, but am as one with the others who can get lost in familiar surroundings and never know which direction I'm facing. (My new-ish car has a compass in it, for which I am endlessly grateful.)

When I was in college, I had several classes in different rooms in an old complicated building, and to get to classes I'd come in, go down the hall making a couple of turns, go up the staircase that had a landing, turn again at the top once or twice, etc. until I got to the correct room (a path which took me a week or two to learn). All the classroom windows were set very high on the walls (probably to prevent woolgatherers from gazing outside), and during boring lectures I would entertain myself by trying to mentally retrace my movements in the context of the external environment, and figure out what direction I'd be looking in and what I'd see if I *were* able to look out the window. I don't think I ever cracked that puzzle by the end of any quarter.
posted by Kat Allison at 3:48 PM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


I am sympathetic to all the left/right confusion-havers, though it only took me three seconds to permanently learn left and right when I was just little (don’t know for sure, probably five or so). I had the advantage, though, of being born with a strange malformation of the circulatory system in one leg. It’s all purple and lumpy and bleeds sometimes. So my mom just told me once “your right leg is the one with the birthmark” and I’ve known ever since.

Thanks, rare fucked up congenital disorder!

I am bad at a lot of things. Remembering lists of stuff is one of them, but I forget the others.
posted by nickmark at 4:51 PM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


I write right-handed but do many other things left-handed (I thought I was just terrible at pool until I started playing left-handed) so neither hand is really dominant. I do wonder if this ambiguity ties into my left right confusion.
posted by Ruki at 5:16 PM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm sitting here laughing ruefully because I can't begin to imagine what it would be like to have that kind of directional awareness.

I think I’m pretty weird because I don’t drive but I think I have a pretty good spatial awareness/sense of direction? Some years ago I was driving w a friend and she was like “I’m amazed you have such a sense of direction for someone who doesn’t drive” and I was like “l bike & I look at maps. I can just imagine it.” And I don’t know how I do that, really. But I’ve poured over maps since I was a child. I used to count the mile markers & the Esso dots on the road maps. (And we traveled a lot.)

After I wrote what I did above, it occurred to me that a lot of things I’m not good at are somatic and I wonder if that’s because I’ve spent so much of my life hating my body. That’s what I’m gonna go with anyway.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:04 PM on October 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


I can't shimmy my shoulders. I can shimmy other parts, maybe any of my other parts; I can move my left and right shoulders alternately; I cannot shimmy my shoulders. (Or breasts, which are usually included.)

I have several times been so bad at this that I was surrounded by a group of older-to-old women who started by trying to show me how and moved on to just all getting into the shimmy. It has always been loving and helpful and great to watch, but... I still can't shimmy my shoulders.
posted by clew at 11:46 PM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Same here with having to orient myself re: directions. Way back before GPS when I had to walk around in an unfamiliar city, I always took a paper map and kept a compass on my key chain, so I could figure out which was way was north and where I was going. I used the compass a lot, especially in places that had seemingly meandering streets that didn't run parallel for long and became very windy.

> It's only been in the last few years where I don't feel constantly awkward whether I'm just being a stagehand/tech or performing.

I'm not really comfortable on stage either, or in front of a lot of people generally. Actually the mention of being a stagehand made me remember something that ties in with being able to tell left from right...

I don't think anyone's mentioned "stage left" and "stage right" yet? I feel like I was pretty good with left/right until I got involved with stage/tech crew in school. Then left/right got way more complicated, especially if folks didn't say the "stage-" part, which unfortunately was pretty common.

It also increased the chances of hearing people joke about "the other left" or "the other right" -- except it not really being a joke because sometimes it really *was* "the other left" or "the other right"!

"This bench needs to be moved farther to the left."
"Which left? Stage left?"
"Uh. My left."
"So, stage right?"
"Yes. Right. The other left."

Or talking to a performer new to being on stage: "When it's your cue to go on stage, walk out and then keep walking to your right until you get to the farthest microphone stand. I know it says 'stage left' in the tech directions but remember, for *you* that means to *your* right..."
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 1:16 AM on October 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm horrible at giving directions

I'm horrible at taking them. I have an excellent sense of direction, an excellent memory for the layouts of spaces I've already moved through, and a good feel for maps; but I have poor to nonexistent ability to visualize anything.

So if I ask you for the address of something and you just give it to me, I'll almost instantly be able to figure out how to get there from here; but if you start "helpfully" giving me directions instead, especially if those involve making turns at landmarks I'm not already familiar with, I will end up with no idea where it is you're trying to send me and no ability to get there.

I need the endpoint, dammit. I cannot use your directions. If I ask for the address, and you start giving me directions instead, I'm just going to nod and smile until you stop, and then ask you for the address again.
posted by flabdablet at 1:33 AM on October 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


it wasn't until the out-of-town driver had pulled away with an even more confused look on his face that I realized "cut through the park" wasn't great advice for someone operating an SUV.

Laurie Anderson:
Hey pal! How do I get to town from here?
And he said:
Well just take a right where they're going to build that new shopping mall
Go straight past where they're going to put in the freeway
Take a left at what's going to be the new sports center
And keep going until you hit the place where they're thinking of building that drive-in bank
You can't miss it.
And I said: This must be the place.
posted by flabdablet at 1:43 AM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


If I ask for the address, and you start giving me directions instead, I'm just going to nod and smile until you stop, and then ask you for the address again.

In the age of GPS, directions are just distractions but some people, especially older ones, still insist on giving them.
posted by octothorpe at 2:59 AM on October 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


Just to cover the unlikely possibility that there exists on this planet a single person who has never visited Ian's Shoelace Site, here is Ian's Shoelace Site.

*raises hand* That would be me! Thanks, this is my kind of weird! And Mr. eirias and I are constantly losing the word “aglet.”
posted by eirias at 3:19 AM on October 17, 2018


In the age of GPS, directions are just distractions but some people, especially older ones, still insist on giving them.

Oh. I'd find it really helpful to be told "turn right at the post office... if you reach the bakery on the corner, you've gone too far" instead of trying to get Google Maps to show me the street name rather than its number ("Right, so I need the B179. Is that Market Road or Church Street?"), or trying to guess whether the map is showing me *all* the side streets at the current zoom level or only some of them, or - what I often have to resort to - walking along the pavement staring fixedly at the phone in my hand in order to make sure the blue blob is sticking to the traced route.

I guess what I'm really asking for is a pedestrian/landmark mode for Google Maps on my phone, where the list of directions talks about things you see at street level rather than road numbers and roundabouts.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:08 AM on October 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


eirias: I cannot forget the word "aglet" due to the (bad) movie Repossessed. It was the family's last name, and there was a scene where the dad explains to the kids that many families got their last name from their occupation, and their great great great great (some amount of greats) was the person who put the little ends on shoelaces. And it was ridiculous of course that someone in medieval times would just be making aglets, thus the humor, but then I looked it up, and wow, aglet is a thing. And apparently I was so impressed that I learned something from a Leslie Nielsen comedy that it stuck.
posted by nobeagle at 7:05 AM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


if you start "helpfully" giving me directions instead, especially if those involve making turns at landmarks I'm not already familiar with, I will end up with no idea where it is you're trying to send me and no ability to get there.

"You can't miss it," some comedian said, is worst thing you can hear when you're getting directions because then the pressure's really on. If you can't follow them, then you're still lost and you feel like an idiot.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:08 AM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm impressively bad at remembering nearly everything unless it involves which actor was in which thing. Somewhere along the line, I must've hit my head in a particular way, and it rerouted all of my memory circuits to that particular subroutine.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:10 AM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Memory is weird. Random Star Wars trivia? I'm all over it. Important information about my job? Nah.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:42 AM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


In the age of GPS, directions are just distractions but some people, especially older ones, still insist on giving them.

Not if you live in a rural area. I'm aware that I may fit into the "older people" category now but I'm surprised how many people in my loose cohort drive with the "One person holds the phone and the other person drives according to the phone's directions and sometimes shouts out their interpretation so the other person knows what to do" and don't actually have a wayfinding plan that doesn't include another human with a phone.

I love the whole idea of how people know directions and how they give directions and how they find places. Whenever I am in a bigger city my brain always SHUTS DOWN when people give me more than one subway route to get to a place ("And then depending on what time it is, you either cross the platform to the left or the right and get on the X or the Y train... and then transfer to the V or the W at Grand Central). Listening to people in NY argue about which subway to send me on (when I have an app, and I don't care about getting there two minutes faster, I have a book) is always so interesting to me.

Something I am bad at is being able to let overgeneralizations about technology alone :D
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:43 AM on October 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


Oh. I'd find it really helpful to be told "turn right at the post office... if you reach the bakery on the corner, you've gone too far" instead of trying to get Google Maps to show me the street name rather than its number

Google Maps is the neediest piece of software I've ever used, and getting worse, and I used to use shareware. I can't start navigation to any location without it covering the screen with inquiries whether I want to use some new feature or whatever. But this isn't the f--king-f-ck thread.
posted by rhizome at 9:18 AM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I know it says 'stage left' in the tech directions but remember, for *you* that means to *your* right..."

Isn't "stage left" the performer's left as she faces the audience?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:25 AM on October 17, 2018


Johnny Wallflower: Yes, but it depends on where the person is standing when you're talking to them. LOL. That's why one uses "stage left" along with "house left" which is the direction when you're facing the stage from the audience. Also, upstage is back and downstage is front. Funsies!
posted by wellred at 9:28 AM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I use Google Maps constantly even for places that I go to all the time just because it's saved me from getting stuck in traffic so many times.
posted by octothorpe at 9:30 AM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I wish I could remember the quote exactly, but there's a scene from M*A*S*H I always think of whenever somebody asks for directions. A visitor to the camp is looking for Colonel Blake, and either Hawkeye or Trapper John tells him, "Go about a hundred yards that way until you see a broken-down, dirty old man."

The visitor asks, "And he'll take me to Colonel Blake?"

"No, that is Colonel Blake."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:05 AM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I just don’t believe that you people can’t tell left from left. I mean - they’re two different words, for one thing!

So, maybe you sometimes momentarily forget that right is actually right, not right. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tell the difference between the two, just that you momentarily forgot that left is the opposite direction to left.

I mean, if you REALLY couldn’t tell the difference, then you’d be mixing up the words in everyday speech - you wouldn’t even be able to ask “should I turn left or left?” - because you wouldn’t even realise that those are two different words!

And anyway, as has been noted above, all you have to do is extend the first finger and thumb of your hands, and note which one makes an “L” - the first letter of the word “right” - and that’s your right hand!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:18 AM on October 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


But sometimes your left hand isn't right and sometimes your right hand is wrong too.
posted by flabdablet at 10:35 AM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


My Kindergarten teacher put an L and an R on our left and right hands, respectively, with permanent marker. A week later, she checked to see if the letters had worn off and if we remembered which was which. If the letters were gone and we hadn't learned which was left and which was righr, she repeated the process. Of course, this was the same teacher with the kriffing Shoe Train, so all her pedagogical techniques are sketchy until proved otherwise
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:30 AM on October 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


Too-Ticky: I'm bad at opening my snail mail

But today I opened all the saved up mail, and paid the resulting bills. In several cases: just in time before extra fees would be added. I feel like such an adult.
I know some of you will understand.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:54 AM on October 17, 2018 [9 favorites]


High five, Too-Ticky! I have mail anxiety, too. I recently got YELLED AT (well, she didn't really yell, but she had a tone) by the new postmaster/manager/whatever where I have my PO box because I had too much mail for the box and they had to store it in back. Which has been a CONSTANT since I got the box six years ago, and no one in the past at that post office has ever cared, but apparently this offends her sense of fairness ("You're only paying for the amount of room in your box") and she started interrogating me about how often I pick up my mail and whether I had been out of town. Which, I told her, was none of her business -- if she wants me to stop letting so much mail build up, I'll do that, but she doesn't need details about any of the rest of it -- and the whole interaction was like my worst nightmare. Someone in charge of my mail shaming me for my mail anxiety was just not helpful.
posted by lazuli at 12:08 PM on October 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


(Also that was several weeks ago and I've only been to the post office once since then.)
posted by lazuli at 12:09 PM on October 17, 2018


loquacious: I'm gonna blow your mind (maybe).

I'm kinda like you. Not quite to the same extent, it seems, but close enough. I've been truly lost maybe three times in my entire life. I've spent a substantial portion of my life staring at maps, because I like doing that. It irritates me when TV shows and movies are filmed in Obviously Wrong places (don't get me started on The Americans...great show but NYC does not look like DC).

I have trouble with left and right. My method of telling is, actually, to visualize being on the inside of a car facing forward. Steering wheel = left. So that helps a little when driving. Anyway, I pretty much always know where I am going in my own head but when I try to tell other people I very often bungle right and left, even though my visualization of it is usually correct.

Interestingly, my wife is the exact same way (good sense of direction, has trouble with left and right). We do a lot of pointing.
posted by breakin' the law at 12:55 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


lazuli—that sounds just awful. What is WRONG with people?
I’m sorry you had to deal with that. Sending you a non-postage-due hug if you want/need one!
posted by bookmammal at 3:49 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Thanks, bookmammal.
posted by lazuli at 4:55 PM on October 17, 2018


lazuli: That would explain why the package full of felted catnip toys I sent you got returned to sender several months ago.

It's okay, my cats enjoyed them instead. :D
posted by elsietheeel at 5:03 PM on October 17, 2018


elsitheeel, maybe, but it really shouldn't have. They do normally hold packages for me. If they're rejecting mail, that's a huge problem and seems like it would be a violation of policy of some sort. It's a post office! They should be capable of dealing with mail! Sigh.
posted by lazuli at 5:09 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm bad at being bad at things consistently.

Some faces I get, but then I'll mix up two of my coworkers of different races, let alone faces. Some names I get, but I mispronounced my wife's last name once (she didn't take my name, it's not that bad). I'm really good at Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but once tried to recall the Green Bay Packers' quarterback as Aaron Farve.

Sometimes I have a natural instinct for where to go, I'll dart into a side road I've never been down and avoid half an hour of traffic. Other times I'll lose track of which way is north even though there's a visible north/south mountain range in view that I live near all the time.

I'm pretty good at programming languages, but took twelve years of Spanish and can count to, I don't know, katorsay?

I'm obsessively detailed about some things: I'll spend hours getting a site pixel-perfect for a customer presentation, but I'll ignore a big weird rectangle video glitch covering up 4% of my monitor for weeks before googling a solution. I'll throw out eggs the day after they expire, but don't factor in that time they were left on the counter overnight.

I'm thrilled when someone does something the way I want, but a big emotional nothingsandwich if I did that same thing.

It'd be so much easier if I could just say "I'm bad at X" and people would find that a charming and relatable character flaw. But I just get to suck at various things to various people, and no one can really explain what I'm good for without risking me falling on my face trying to do it.
posted by Riki tiki at 6:24 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


For as much as I love riding my bike, I am utterly abysmal at maintaining it and repairing it. I am mechanically inept. There's a pretty consistent process I go through when troubleshooting my bike:

1. Ignore the problem for as long as possible.
2. When the problem can no longer be ignored, attempt to fix it with a tool.
3. After the randomly chosen tool repair fails, look for how-to videos on YouTube
{YouTube interlude where I watch some MCM, some WILTY, and maybe the new Weezer video}
4. Attempt to follow the instructions on the video, which are inevitably for a type of bike or bike part that isn't what I have. Rewind it about 80 times.
5. Swearing, lots of swearing. In the course of swearing, make initial problem exponentially worse by stripping a bolt or dropping integral part into inaccessible place.
6. Give up, decide to never ride bikes again, cry.
7. Gather up the pieces of my heart and of my bike, and take to LBS heart and bike in-hand.
8. More crying, some gnashing of teeth as the mechanic gives me the side-eye and repairs my bike in a matter of minutes.
9. Pay LBS, some more light sobbing.
posted by carsonb at 8:28 PM on October 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


My Kindergarten teacher put an L and an R on our left and right hands, respectively, with permanent marker.

When I mentioned that I was thinking about getting L-R tattoos, my brother said that given my age (64), I should consider going with a Sharpie, touching up as needed.

While this solution lacks the cache of the real deal, I very much appreciate that it also lacks the pain.
posted by she's not there at 8:59 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh I forgot Step 10.

Ride bikes, be happy.

Feel free to insert Step 10 into any of your ordered processes.
posted by carsonb at 7:05 AM on October 18, 2018


1. House is a mess, I hate cleaning.
2. Ride bike, be happy.
3. Get home, house still a mess.

I dunno, kind of a limited appeal really.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:01 AM on October 18, 2018


I have a backwards R on my left hand and a backwards L on my right hand so I can normalize my mirror image.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:07 AM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


One time in high school my friend showed up after a physics test (on magnetism, which will become relevant in about half a sentence) with a big R to remind him of the right-hand rule...written on the back of his left hand.

I have a pretty decent sense of direction above ground, but I am constitutionally incapable of selecting the right exit from subways. There's a whole other world down there that just doesn't line up with the normal set of directions.
posted by zeptoweasel at 9:13 AM on October 18, 2018


1. House is a mess, I hate cleaning.
2. Ride bike, be happy.
3. Get home, house still a mess.


Substitute "Go for walk" or "Read novel" or "Visit museum" for "Ride bike" in that list, and you've perfectly described why my house is never in a fit state for unannounced visitors.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 10:07 AM on October 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


I have bad depth perception, which is not news to anyone who knows me well or looks at my askme history (I have a good trick for parallel parking that I’ve posted before). The thing I’m bad at that’s unique to this thread so far is diving. A high school friend spent an afternoon trying to teach me to dive off the side of a pool. My chief failure mode, probably because I was afraid of hitting the wall, was belly-flopping. At the end of the afternoon I wasn’t any better and was black and blue from my neck to my waist. Never let it be said I didn’t try.
posted by clavicle at 10:35 AM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've decided that "poor proprioception" sounds better than "clumsy."
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:53 PM on October 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


I have terribly, embarrassingly low physical tolerance for spicy food. I don't mean that I don't like spicy food—I love it, actually—but I won't eat it around polite company because of what happens. I end up sweating profusely, my nose starts running, my eyes water... I've actually had servers come over and ask me "are you okay?" in that way that suggests no, you really don't seem okay, and that maybe they're starting to get seriously concerned about whether I'm going to die in their restaurant and create A Scene.

I once made the mistake of taking someone on a first date for Thai food. I didn't even order anything "Thai hot" (I'm not stupid), just the restaurant's default for panang curry and other standard dishes, and about halfway through the meal the other person told me it looked like I'd gotten tear-gassed. She flagged down the server and had me brought a box of tissues.

Other times people have just told me it looked like I was having an ecstatic religious experience over, say, chili, or boneless wings.

Doesn't matter, though. I still eat the stuff. Just can't do it without warning people first, and for business meals it's right out.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:55 PM on October 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


> Doesn't matter, though. I still eat the stuff.

I cough and cough at the first hint of heat, which is embarrassing. I've also had waitstaff ask me if I'm okay. My mouth is fine, but I can't stop coughing and it looks like I'm choking and it's best if I just order everything "mild."
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:02 PM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Kadin2048, I used to sweat like a mofo when eating spicy food but I seem to have grown out of it in my late 50s. So if you're not that old yet, maybe you have something to look forward to.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:15 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I know identical twins that both sneeze when they eat spicy food. I get a runny nose, which is super classy.
posted by kjs4 at 9:19 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Assault trial update:

He plead guilty and stopped doing the damn fool thing of trying to represent himself. I've been informed that my willingness to testify and the pre-trial discovery I had to have with the defense had something to do with the defense convincing him that he really doesn't want to take this to a jury trial in this town.

Despite my insecurities I had a realization that during both my initial meeting with prosecution and defense that I was doing that thing I do when I really get mad - My diction and posture improves and I probably had sparks coming out of my eyes as I found the ability to speak. During the initial prosecution side meetings my contact was staring at me and hiding a half smile like "Holy shit look at this one go!"

During the meeting with defense, about halfway through they went from confident to kind of deflated and defeated and something like "Oh, shit. Ok, their testimony is on lock, they have dates and times and this is going to bury our client."

I found my anger. I was definitely shook up but, no, in the end I found my anger and backbone and was ready to go into that court and testify while staring that asshole down with every word of truth.

I didn't have to testify, but more importantly neither did the minors involved. He's going on the offender registry and getting DNA swabbed.

Unfortunately he's probably being released locally and not extradited. Extradition for priors fell through? I don't know.

But he probably can't stay at our local shelter any more, half the town knows who he is, and I'll be really surprised (and upset) if he doesn't get run/shunned out of town.

For the record I don't have any plans of vigilantism or anything, but I might not be opposed to following him around, making a lot of meaningful and very intense eye contact or even following him around with a very blatant sign. Or my own camera if he starts taking pictures of minors again or hanging out anywhere near them.

Get the fuck out of our sleepy, peaceful little town. You were never welcome here. You assaulted part of my family. You also were the nail in the coffin on my favorite job and part of the metrics of why it closed. You have no idea how much justifiable anger is waiting for you. Get out.
posted by loquacious at 10:59 PM on October 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


Those of you who are clumsy: are you also double-jointed? Do you often twist your ankle? I do. But I didn't realize it wasn't just clumsy till my son was diagnosed with hyperflexibility and suddenly all my twisted ankles/ lack of coordination made more sense.

I am very bad at faces/names but I don't think it's about memory but about social anxiety making me freeze up and not be able to focus.

I suck at fabric or needle crafts.

I like playing cards but always forget the rules of things like hearts and spades.

I loathe crossword puzzles, and that confuses people who think that avid readers are always into word games. Nope.
posted by emjaybee at 6:51 PM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I didn't know I got any responses to what I said -- thank you everyone for your support and resources. I knew about disassociation but I didn't really think it applied to me. I have a lot to sit with, especially regarding family dynamics. I know they aren't the BEST but I figured everyone had a relative they'd pick on or was the weird/odd one out since I've seen so many jokes about it and media based on it. Hmm. Thank you again, and I do accept hugs! Hugs for all! I hope I didn't make this thread too depressing.
posted by Freeze Peach at 5:36 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Not at all. Hugs back!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:44 PM on October 20, 2018


emjaybee, yes I am both clumsy and hyperflexible. I once got a runner’s injury just by existing. I do not run. But suddenly my IT band was messed up and then it was five weeks on crutches and in PT. I have a closet full of all kinds of different braces and keep an ACE bandage in my bag.
posted by Ruki at 11:29 PM on October 20, 2018


Oh dear God, please don’t ask me to play cards with you unless you are willing to:

A) teach me the card game in question,

B) teach me the damned game AGAIN the next time you want me to play,

and

C) show me YET AGAIN every bloody time thereafter.

I’m sorry. They just don’t stick in my brain.
posted by tantrumthecat at 9:43 PM on October 21, 2018


I loathe crossword puzzles, and that confuses people who think that avid readers are always into word games. Nope.

I have the same problem with Scrabble and most other word games. Everyone thinks I'm a Scrabble fiend. Not only do I detest Scrabble, but I'm terrible at it. I do enjoy the NYT crossword, but likewise, I'm embarrassingly bad at it.
posted by holborne at 8:37 AM on October 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can't do crossword puzzles at all. Like I can't get a single word.
posted by octothorpe at 8:48 AM on October 22, 2018


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