What are you good for? July 12, 2022 2:59 AM   Subscribe

Tell me about some odd, offbeat, or under-recognized talent you have.

I, for instance, am preternaturally good at threading needles. Seriously, if my current gigs dry up, I think I could make a living at it.
posted by signal to MetaFilter-Related at 2:59 AM (133 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

I'm particularly good at not doing things. One thing I don't do is gossip. My husband jokes that when I die, my tombstone will read "She Was Not a Gossip." He says this slightly in exasperation, because sometimes he will say something like, "did you know xyz about [person]," and I'll be like, "ah, yeah, I heard about that," and he's "why didn't you tell me?" Well, it just didn't occur to me. There are myriad other things I excel at not doing, but I don't think "She Was Late With Her Taxes" deserves an epitaph.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:16 AM on July 12 [16 favorites]


Completely unremarkable in Denmark where beer is still (was still until recently?) predominantly distributed in glass bottles (and pop as well, when I was a kid), but here in the UK people are amazed that I can pop the cap off a bottle really with near any solid object.
posted by Dysk at 3:56 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


I'm good at making hi-tech devices work properly just by being near them.

Somebody will have been struggling with getting a thing to work all day, and if they bring this to my attention then usually all I need to do is just stand there and watch while they do whatever they were trying to do before, and it works. Sometimes I actually need to sit in their chair and do it for them, and then it works.

My family calls this the "it always works for Stephen effect" and although it's handy for others it drives me nuts, because the first step in fixing any problem is watching it happen and so many of the problems I would like to show other people how to fix and/or work around just hide from me.

I think the effect is probably closely related to my other superpower, which is almost always having an open parking spot suddenly become available for me right outside any shop or cinema or bank or whatever that I'm driving to. Other people have noticed this as well, and asked me about it; I always claim to have called ahead for my parking spot but the truth is that my Dad had the same superpower and I just inherited it.
posted by flabdablet at 4:01 AM on July 12 [28 favorites]


Still thinking about my offbeat talent, but last week I met one person who recognised I could sing from the timbre of my voice, and another who could guess which instruments people played from looking at them! She was right for me and one friend and wrong for one other but it was such a fun conversation.
posted by ellieBOA at 4:31 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


I play piano (and some guitar) by ear. I don't have perfect pitch, but I do have relative pitch. I remember early piano teachers testing me on it. They'd sit me in a corner of the room, away from the piano and unable to see the keyboard, and they'd play random notes for me to name.

I'm good at balancing stacks of quarters on the back of my forearm near my elbow, and swinging my arm to catch the quarters in my hand.

I haven't regularly spoken French since high school and college in the 90s, and before this past weekend I hadn't been in a francophone part of the world since 1989, but my wife and I just got back from Quebec, where I was surprised to discover just how much vocabulary and verb conjugations I had retained. (She, as well.) Most people we encountered were at least somewhat conversant in English, so we never had any trouble as tourists, but I learned that "Ça serait peut-être plus vite si nous parlions en anglais, mais...." was a great way to get people to smile and take the time to speak French with me.
posted by emelenjr at 4:57 AM on July 12 [12 favorites]


I'm good at making hi-tech devices work properly just by being near them.

Ah, yes, the "Systems Administrator Proximity Fix", or, why I have worked in IT support for 25 years.

Otherwise, I am totally useless.
posted by briank at 6:05 AM on July 12 [13 favorites]


briank: "Ah, yes, the "Systems Administrator Proximity Fix", or, why I have worked in IT support for 25 years."

I have this too. The mutation seems to be inheritable, my 14 year old son recently manifested it too, which is a relief as now I can send him to fix our relative's gear by his mere presence.
posted by signal at 6:26 AM on July 12 [8 favorites]


I can tell when there is an extra space between words or when there is a difference in type size. I have memorized mathematical squares through 17 (17 x 17 = 289). I do math shortcuts in my head through factoring. I used to be good at guessing the time, but I haven't done that much in quite a while.
posted by NotLost at 6:35 AM on July 12 [9 favorites]


At my last job at Brooklyn Public Library, you had to pay for fines and printing on machines that would read your card and let you put money on your card. They were awful, finicky machines. (Still are, as far as I know.) Frequently the bill acceptor would go down and you'd be SOL if you didn't have a credit card. But even when the bill acceptor was working, it would only accept fresh new dollar bills.

This is where my talent comes in. That machine would take bills from my fingers that it wouldn't take from anybody else's. I floated bills into the bill acceptor with flawless, precise, elegant technique. I could sweet-talk that machine into accepting bills that had been crushed in someone's pocket and sent through the washing machine.

BPL is fine-free now, so hopefully the days of telling patrons that they can't check out until they pay their fines and they can't pay their fines until the machine is working are fewer, if not altogether over. I am still looking for a place that needs my flawless dollar-feeding technique.
posted by Jeanne at 6:41 AM on July 12 [16 favorites]


Within the first ten minutes of being in a person's house, I will adjust the picture settings on their television in a way where everyone will agree the picture is far superior.

This is probably my only remaining skill from getting a degree in Film & Video Production.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:43 AM on July 12 [22 favorites]


I make a pretty good Tarte Tatin.
And recently I got my hands on a four-stroke motor, a small-ish lawnmower motor that was doing sickly. I farted around with it, swapping out what was worn out until it was almost running ok. (I got the riding-mower at auction and, displaying a gob-smacking level of dumb, did not inspect it beforehand. I had to weld a couple spots back together along with the motor issues.) When I had it mostly running again I toodled around the yard, mowing the grass and nursing the thing along - there's a long, straight stretch that I thought would be the best part to let it rip (which can be good for a motor)... I should mention that when I changed the oil earlier that day there was a marked metallic sheen to it and if you know about motors or even have an inkling about why there is oil in the motor in the first place, you know that a metallic sheen is not a good sign - but I thought maybe I can squeak out a couple dozen hours - until the fall, and it'll all be forgiven. I went down the long straight, nursing the motor and about half-way it farted once and then started to run evenly and I thought to myself, "Oh good. I'm getting out ahead of this" I got to the end of the row, turned right, got ready to head back the way I came and saw that the entire yard was engulfed in white, you've-killed-a-ring-or-a-valve-and-soon-the-engine, smoke.
I drove the mower back to the shed, daring it to give up.
I googled replacement motors (of course) and they are readily available and and and... but I think we are going to gently close the book on this chapter.
So, I'd say I can work on four-stroke motors but maybe more appropriately I can recognise when to bail.

The folding canoe, on the other hand, the one from 1939 (named Irma no less) has turned out to be a stunning success.
posted by From Bklyn at 6:49 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


A friend and I were frustrated by the quality of our elementary school's outsourced and expensive trivia night host and decided that we could do it better ourselves. After we hosted our own school's the next year, a woman from a nearby school heard good reviews and asked us to do theirs. We did, and then another school got in touch. And then another, and then another.

Both of us have professional jobs and were not looking to become Trivia Night Hosts as a side gig, but it was so much fun that we kept saying yes. We are retired (?) now, but I had a moment of clarity during the last one we did where I realized that this was probably the best that I was at anything in my life.

There are so many things that you need to do well in order to make it work. It's a room full of young parents who are there for a rare night out and they are ready. to. go. They are getting progressively more drunk as the night goes and have some distance from the days when they could handle that well. You need trivia questions that make every table feel a little bit smart but are that still hard enough to separate the tables and have a clear winner, and they need to be interesting but not gimmicky. And the questions have to be bulletproof because there's one guy at one table who is ABSOLUTELY SURE that Lance Bass was not an original member of N*Sync and now this whole night is under protest. You need to keep the crowd's attention between rounds so you don't lose the room, but you also need to score all of the answer sheets accurately and in real time. You have to be ready for people and technology to do unexpected things. You have to be funny and interesting, but play a role that facilitates making the attendees feel like they are the stars of the show and you are just the hired help. And you have to be willing to do a little aw-shucks and deflect the credit to the PTA or the Trivia Night Committee or whoever hired you.

We were zookeepers, and DJs, and symphony conductors, and IT guys, and game show hosts, and choreographers, and scientists. My host and I were perfect partners: riffing off one another, filling in gaps or problem-solving as things came up, playing to our respective strengths, and making sure that everyone (including us) was having a good time.

We ended up doing 7 or 8 of the events, and I am so glad I got a chance to do it because it's a rare feeling to be in the middle of all that chaos and just be in full control and have everything work. (I'm a lawyer in real life and writing the perfect NDA doesn't quite offer the same reward.)
posted by AgentRocket at 6:52 AM on July 12 [42 favorites]




My wife and kids have sort of snarkily dubbed me a "super-recognizer." It's a how/why do you know that kind of non-skill.
Toronto seems to be the world capital of having people who are a little bit famous, or Canadian-famous anyway. So I'm forever leaning over to one of my kids saying stuff like, "that guy paying for his coffee is the guy from the Dejardins insurance commercial." It's never OH MY GOD JACK NICHOLSON or whatever, it's always like "hey she was in that thing about walnuts we watched last week on CBC." I wouldn't know a sports person if they were standing right next to me and my knowledge of current musicians isn't what it used to be* but I can tell you that the guy who worked at the Dupont Beer Store (R.I.P.) is in that Canadian Tire commercial.

*you can't walk a few steps around here without bumping into one of the dudes from Sloan, though.
posted by chococat at 7:30 AM on July 12 [20 favorites]


Toronto seems to be the world capital of having people who are a little bit famous, or Canadian-famous anyway

chococat, I have never seen you so I wouldn't recognize you properly. But I bet if you ordered Timmy's behind me I could pick out your voice from your stellar MeFi Music tracks.

And I would *fanboy out* and awkwardly sing back some of your songs as you waited for that Double Double.
posted by AgentRocket at 7:49 AM on July 12 [9 favorites]


I'm not great at recognizing faces, but I can pick out a voice in a split second. Every commercial VO, animation, people in unrecognizable makeup. I hear a voice and think, oh, that's so-and-so from such-and-such.

Also I can touch my tongue to my nose, something my daughter seems to have inherited. Maybe related, the distal phalanges of all my fingers bend backward to nearly 90 degrees, which I never thought was unusual until I tried to show someone a guitar part and they couldn't figure out how I was "doing that" with my fingers.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:54 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


Aw, thanks so much AgentRocket.
posted by chococat at 8:01 AM on July 12


Arranging flowers, making mixtapes/playlists, remembering when things happened (in my life and in history).
posted by thivaia at 8:05 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I can pick up nearly anything with my feet.
posted by jquinby at 8:08 AM on July 12 [7 favorites]


I am a really good parallel parker. sometimes I want to offer my services to random strangers who are painfully struggling to get their car into a spot that is perfectly adequate for their needs.
posted by supermedusa at 8:41 AM on July 12 [7 favorites]


I can tell you which Plain church a person is a member of by their style of dress.

I am extremely soothing to babies and small children; they will let me hold them, sit on my lap when otherwise they are "go go go", look out the window at the birds with me.
posted by epj at 8:47 AM on July 12 [8 favorites]


I can tie a knot in a cherry stem with my tongue.

I am a natural born speed reader and have been since I was a wee tot. No one knows how I figured out how to do that so fast on my own, other than I was read aloud to a lot.

My third secret talent is one I cannot admit to in public but is pretty well wasted on me since I almost never have the resources to DO it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:48 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


Pig wrangling, poultry eviscerating, parallel parking on the left side of a one-way street, finding lost objects.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:53 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


My wife seems pretty impressed with how quickly I can cook relatively complicated meals and how I can take a quick peek in the fridge and come up with a meal plan on the fly.

I can keep a running tally of everything in our house - what's in the cupboards, pantry, basement, the chest freezer. I know where it all is and how much of it we have.

I could not tell you the specific address of anywhere, but I can tell you exactly how to get there from wherever I happen to be. I seem to remember where places are by visualizing my route there. The first thing I do when we start talking about "What was that place we were at last week?" is to open Google Maps and retrace our route there.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:05 AM on July 12 [8 favorites]


I apparently have very comforting hands.
My mother always used to ask me to just put my hand on her neck and the pain would ease. I don't like being touched or touching people much, but I like touching animals and it seems to work on them too.
posted by Zumbador at 9:18 AM on July 12 [10 favorites]


I'm probably jinxing myself good here, but I am phenomenal at not getting speeding tickets. I have a fast motorbike, and even though I generally ride at a safe speed based on traffic, road condition, road familiarity, and weather conditions, I also generally exceed the speed limit by at least a little bit. AND YET.
posted by scratch at 9:23 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


flabdablet, when I managed tech support, we called it the Helpdesk Proximity Effect.
posted by theora55 at 9:35 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


I'm stupidly fast at jigsaw puzzles.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:55 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


I'm also pretty good at looking at things in weird ways.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:57 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


I am terrible at recognizing faces but I tend to confuse actors who look little alike because, say, they have the same nostrils or eyebrow twitch or something specific and irrelevant.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:59 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


There was a time when I was a sort of walking animal Pheromone; whenever I went to a zoo, farm, or any other place where animals were kept in any kind of protection or captivity, within minutes of my walking up to their enclosure they would start humping. First it was otters at the Monterey Aquarium, then it was horses at the barn next to my youth hostel, then it was goats at the Central Park Children's Zoo, penguins at the New England Aquarium, tortoises at another zoo...

I think I burned it out on a human, though. At the time this was going on, my BFF was trying to get pregnant and was facing a bit of bother. We were talking about it, and I told her about this weird thing I had and joked that maybe around the time of her next OB/GYN appointment, I'd just sort of salute in her general direction (we live in different states). We both laughed about it, but then a couple weeks later, I did indeed salute in her general direction that evening.

....Her daughter is sixteen now.

It's a different kind of animal magic, but I seem to have this weird dog-charming ability. Dogs out for a walk with their moms and dads will stare hard at me when they notice me, and often will start pulling at their leashes or just come running up to me, tail wagging wildly, to snuffle at me or jump up or start licking my held-out hand or whatever. Their mom or dad will be apologizing and saying "it's okay, he's friendly," but I've already been able to tell that because everything about their dog's body language is saying "OMIGOSH HI YOU'RE AWESOME". Even if I get on a subway or bus, and someone's got their dog in their purse next to me and it's half-asleep, it'll sort of sleepily wake up, look at me, and stretch their head a little closer for a sniff; I offer them my hand to sniff, they check me out, give it a couple licks and go back to sleep.

I always let the dog make the first move, though; maybe that helps. On the occasions when a dog just sort of gives me a look and then keeps going, I let it go. The most forward I get is if it's just sitting in its yard and watching me; I may pause to say hello, and then go on my way if it just stays sitting there. (There's a huge floopy white dog on my block, possibly a Kuvasz, whom I've only ever seen lying on its belly outside the door as its mom tries to get it to get up so they can go for a walk.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:03 AM on July 12 [9 favorites]


All small children and animals love me. My kids still say that about me.

I, too, have good parking Karma. It is great except that now all my friends want me to be the designated driver.

I drive a decent sized pickup truck in NYC. I have learned the exact dimensions of my truck and can fit into really small spaces and pass double parked cars with ease (and with closing my side mirrors). The secret is confidence even if it is a false confidence.

I can chug any carbonated beverage out of a can (NO shotgun) faster than anyone you know. Beer is my preference, but I will race with seltzer, diet coke, etc. I am in my late 50s now. I still out-chug college kids. Carbonated beverages only. I would lose a water chugging contest to a 5 year old.

(Like taz, I do not gossip. Drives my gf crazy.)

I can shoot a bottle cap with speed and accuracy by snapping my fingers.

I have won my NCAA Final Four basketball pool 6 years in a row. (Not sure if that says something about me or the 40 or so competitors.)
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:04 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I am a really good parallel parker. sometimes I want to offer my services to random strangers who are painfully struggling to get their car into a spot that is perfectly adequate for their needs.

It me. I can get my Honda into a space about 3 inches longer than the actual car and do it without turning around to look in a car with a manual gearbox and no backup camera.
posted by octothorpe at 10:07 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


I can draw a mostly-to-scale map of the United States freehand on demand. I've done this at bars and conferences before. A fellow conference attendee once actually framed one.

When I worked in Massachusetts, people used to half-joke that I knew every single person in the state of Ohio. I of course don't, but I do have a lot of Kevin Bacon-y coincidences. I went to high school with John Legend, I lived in the same neighborhood as Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Spielman from ESPN and would often see them at the grocery, I played trivia with the Dayton mass shooter's dad (where we'd often see Dave Chappelle as well), etc. I was involved in state-level politics for a while, so I made the pretty tenuous acquaintance of many politicians. Any time someone from Ohio made headlines, my co-workers would ask me how I knew them. And I'd often have an answer. The fact that there's a MeFite who went to high school with my uncle probably isn't helping me disprove the notion here. Haha.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:09 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


My most offbeat talent is if you ask me what a word means, I will spout off a definition, and then when we look it up you'll be astonished to find that I gave you almost the identical definition contained in the dictionary. My partner finds this endlessly entertaining and is always asking me to define random words. Is there a way to turn this into money?
posted by HotToddy at 10:25 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


Helpdesk Proximity Effect

I have that too! I've also joked that one of the best things about being over 50 is that I can always plug in a USB cable the right way up every time (yes, without looking at the little picture on it). I can write articles on Wikipedia that never get deleted.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:41 AM on July 12 [9 favorites]


I make my wife laugh with fully realized characters. I take really great care of the three best cats in existence.

I’m helpful to people when I see they need help.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:50 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


I remember numbers - birthdays, addresses, zip codes, ex-boyfriend's phone numbers from thirty years ago, a handful of social security numbers that people told me to see if I could remember them (I did, and I do), prices of things in stores, etc etc. It is not a very exciting superpower, but hey. It would also be more helpful if I had a week-ahead alert for birthdays so I would remember to do something for them ahead of time...

I am also the navigator in our family, or pretty much in any group I'm in; I don't use Google Maps unless I'm somewhere I've never been.

On the other end of things, I cannot remember faces; I always feel terrible when I think I'm meeting someone for the first time and it turns out I've met them before. *facepalm*
posted by sencha at 11:06 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


I remember weird irrelevant stuff about people. It is useful at work, looking after VIPs and remembering their quirks and preferences. But outside work it can be embarassing. At work people assume i have a little black book, but actually i don't. It's all in my head.
posted by 15L06 at 11:41 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


I never forget a face. (High fives, chococat!) It shows up in regular life and in entertainment things. I won't remember their names most of the time, I am abysmal with being able to remember names, but even if I've never met you formally but just saw you somewhere in the same space, or watched you in a movie or on TV, I will recall your face.

It's manifested at weird times, too--once I was on a weekend holiday in Vancouver and we were walking down a busy street, and I saw someone I recognized from college. I had no idea who they were, but I knew I knew them. Eventually, I recalled he'd been a TA in one of my huge intro courses freshman year. Another time, I was in Scotland, and I saw someone I recognized, and found out she was related to someone who'd thrown a party I was at, in a completely different city in a different part of the country.

It drives my friends nuts--every time I see some actor and go, "Oh, she was the third person from the left at that bus stop in the scene in [Thing from 20 Years Ago]" and they're like "HOW DO YOU DO THAT?" and I'm like "I don't KNOW!" It's a useless skill especially when you can't fucking remember anyone's name.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 11:45 AM on July 12 [7 favorites]


I am pretty good at navigating urban spaces; if I walk through a neighborhood, I can usually find my way back to any point. I think I store little landmarks (a mailbox with a bent leg, a poster in a wall, all sorts of signs) and can leverage that to retrace my steps.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:06 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


I can, within +-2%, tell you the cacao percentage of a bite of dark chocolate. Sometimes, if my taste buds are feeling especially cooperative, whether or not it is single origin or a blend.
posted by alchemist at 1:07 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]


I can make dinner with Anything in the Fridge.

It helps that we have a pretty deep pantry (figuratively) and I think a lot about the food we buy, but rather than explain that to my partner, I prefer to bask in his amazement about creating a meal from “air.”

Edited to add: 👋 backseatpilot. Same-ish, but I do write some things down because my memory isn’t as good as it could be.
posted by fruitslinger at 1:41 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


When inspired (and only in the moment), I can imitate someone’s voice, even if I’ve only been around them for a few minutes (and to hilarious effect, if my husband is to be believed).
Also a really fast reader, pretty much since I learned how.
And I’m quite good at trip planning, flights, hotels, rental cars, Airbnb, trains, dinner reservations - The whole shebang, for up to four weeks.
posted by dbmcd at 1:43 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I can tell when there is an extra space between words or when there is a difference in type size.

Same here, and relatedly I'm very good at editing other people's writing for fiddly things like that, and typos, and giving suggests for improving their phrasing. Unfortunately this skill has been of limited use in my current job. :/

I'm good at making up silly nonsense words/sounds, usually when -grunting- focusing my chi as I haul myself out of a chair.

Without formal training and with limited experience, I managed to tear down and rebuild a VW air-cooled engine after it threw a main bearing and seized, helped only by two shop manuals and the "Compleat Idiot" book (familiar to most fans of old VWs). It even ran better than it ever had before!

I have a knack for coming up with creditably strong passwords, as verified by this password strength estimator, that are also easy for me to remember (without using the "CorrectHorseBatteryStaple" method).
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:22 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


My talent?

What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, just say it again...

What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen to me
It ain't nothing but a heart breaker

Yes, just about anything someone says brings up an earworm for me.
posted by mightshould at 2:51 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]


I'm good at spelling and I'm good at counting. One time I got to demonstrate both talents at once. The game was like a spelling bee, only you just had to report the number of letters in the word ("Chrysanthemum?" "13!"), and do it faster than the other guy.

As you might imagine, only veritable mutants play games like that at parties to begin with. Still, the mutants in that room looked at me like my mutation was something extra.
posted by aws17576 at 3:00 PM on July 12 [11 favorites]


I can burp super loud and impressively on demand. Makes all the 8-year-old boys jealous.
posted by cgg at 4:24 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


Like several other Mefites above, I too can parallel park, spell really well, read very fast and create tasty meals out of the blue. As always, you are all my people. I also pretty much always know what time it is +/- 10 minutes. I think I've said all this here before, though. But I have something new! Currently I am unappreciated for my amazing ability to toss an empty seltzer can or plastic bottle from the kitchen doorway accurately and flawlessly into the returnables bin on the other side of the unnamed room between the garage and the kitchen. Nobody will ever see me do this but I am telling you, it's amazing.
posted by mygothlaundry at 4:59 PM on July 12 [8 favorites]


Another excellent parallel parker here, to the point where I make an obnoxious joke about it every. single. time. I'm sure my wife isn't tired of it by now.

I can sort of do quite a lot of things but don't excel at anything. I can sort of ride a unicycle, sort of juggle, sort of play the ukulele, sort of not be social awkward. Lots of things. I really like to pick up skills that are uncommon or that people (wrongly) assume are impossible to do.

I can identify any episode of The Brady Bunch within the first minute.
posted by bondcliff at 6:31 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]


I can buy a gift for someone weeks ahead of the event and not be agonized by the waiting period. That seemed to be something of a superpower in various crowds I've run with. I also can do decent impersonations of Tim Conway's Mr. Tudball character and Garrison Keillor.
posted by bryon at 8:35 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I can take pretty much any sentence and make a decent song out of it. I'll hear someone say something and a second later I'm singing it and adding lines and verses and all that. I think I get it from my Grandpa. He used to sing everything. He'd get an ad in the mail and a minute later he'd be singing it and going off in whatever direction fit what he read. It's a blessing and a curse.
posted by downtohisturtles at 8:59 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


I can smell gas leaks or citrus mold a mile away and am never wrong about either, even though I have a normal sense of smell otherwise. And I’ve somehow grown nine-foot pea plants without using any fertilizer this year, which reinforces my kid’s declaration that I am a plant witch.
posted by centrifugal at 9:22 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]


I can stealth whistle
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:35 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


My gf just told me that she is amazed at how well I deal with uncertainty and change. Being in challenging situations never threw me for a loop. I think it comes from traveling to and attending many many many Grateful Dead shows. My rule of thumb is to never take in what you are not willing to lose. I think living in the fraternity house also helps me deal with uncertainty and f'd situations.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:47 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


If I open the door of a high cabinet and some poorly balanced object accidentally falls out, I have something like a 99% hit rate for being able to catch the item, and before I've even consciously registered what it is.

Also, if a small item drops onto a floor or even carpet, I am able to find it almost instantly because, apparently, my mind is able to geolocate via sound quite well. This happened recently when I dropped a brown vitamin capsule onto a brown rug. I knew exactly where to find it, without scanning. And even though I've spent far too much time blasting AC/DC into my ears. (I mean, the only problem with that sentence is the last three words)

I am however terrible at long-term financial planning, and my desk is a lost cause organization-wise.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 10:10 PM on July 12 [8 favorites]


Also I have been told I'm really good at figuring people out in a short period of time. Like whether or not they are trouble, or good people, or have major personality-consuming hangups. That's according to my ex. The first time I was told this, my then-wife and I had gone to a party where her ex boyfriend was i attendance. I chatted with him for 5 minutes while we were waiting for beers at the bar. When I got back to her I said -- and I thought I was just being a smug a-hole -- "Well he's got zero relationship with his mom and has loads of daddy issues, doesn't he?" and her face was stunned, she was like, "How the eff did you figure that out ?!?!?!" I wish could articulate how because it sounds like a potentially lucrative skill, but....
posted by armoir from antproof case at 10:21 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]


I just know if an object will fit, in a car/truck/box.. when everyone else is nah won't go, case in point dining table and four chain in a Honda Jazz. I can also do this for designing eg complicated flights of steps.

jenfullmoon an Alaskan woman marathon runner demonstrated that to me the first time, and taught me to do it, not a skill with a lot of applications but great for breaking the ice!

armoir from antproof case, I can tell if someone is untrustworthy or a threat by their gait, even at 50 yards, IDK how, but have learned not to ignore.
posted by unearthed at 12:39 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty good at bowling. I haven't been bowling since the last time I told this story, except for going as a teambuilding event with work a couple weeks ago. I bowled a 149, 163 and a 159 and basically blew the doors off everyone even with five years of rust.

To retell the story from the link, when I was in high school my friends and I (all assholes) decided to join a "family" bowling league. As far as I know, the family thing just meant it was co-ed and you had to have at least one woman and one man on your team for every match. We named our team the "smoke-a-bowlers" and everyone hated us. I mean we were all assholes, but even beyond that, people HATED us and we couldn't really figure out why. I mean aside from the team name and the asshole part, but we were generally decently behaved and showed up every week and were not good at bowling at all, but it didn't make sense the venom the rest of the league had for us.

Well, it turns out that there is a fair amount of etiquette in bowling that we knew literally nothing about. One lady took pity on us and explained that we shouldn't go when the people in the next lane are going, and we shouldn't tower over people when it is their turn and a variety of other stuff that we knew nothing about. Once that got fixed, the people still hated us, but it was more of a general simmering hatred than the flat out violent hatred from before. Anyway, in addition to teaching us etiquette, she also gave us some basic pointers that completely changed my bowling game. Instead of throwing the ball movie style, she showed me how to throw it like you are shaking someone's hand. While this won't really give you a chance to get a crazy high score, it is incredibly consistent and will keep you right in that 140-150 range. Another great tip from her, she said that if you are off to the right, you should move right because your body will automatically adjust a little and the ball will go left a bit. Of course I was always doing the opposite because that's not what common sense would tell you. Also, I used to get high with her in her garage sometimes, which was funny for me as a high school student (she was a middle aged lady). Anyway, haven't thought about that for years and after the league ended I don't think we ever really talked again. I hope she is out there doing well.
posted by Literaryhero at 1:22 AM on July 13 [7 favorites]


I'm very good at re-writing song lyrics on the spot to fit a situation. I can do it with a song that is currently playing in the car/grocery store/wherever, or I can come up with a fitting song and re-write it on the spot. Most recently? "Oh, I just can't WAIT to go home!" (part of a work re-write of a Lion King song)

I have also never had jet lag, at all. Every time I travel long distances (8+ hour flight) I worry it's my time but it's never happened. If I land during the day, I stay up. If I land at night, I go to sleep. I don't have any special plane routine or meal schedule. It's a superpower!
posted by gursky at 3:58 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I'm good at moving glasswares and the like out of the way before people knock them over. Nobody ever notices, but in a way that's the whole point.
posted by dmh at 5:53 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


Oh I've thought of another one. I'm pretty good at translating between English and Afrikaans on the fly, as in reading in one language and translating it as I go.

Also switching languages mid sentence is fun. It's a great way to boggle some English speaking people, especially the ones that think it's a compliment to tell me they'd never guess I'm Afrikaans.
posted by Zumbador at 7:08 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


I can stealth whistle

I can stealth hum while my mouth does pretty much anything else, open or shut, without changing the timbre. Practised that one as a kid with my mate Geoff, who had a very similar voice to mine. We'd start humming the same note, then modulate our volume so he'd get louder while I got softer until I'd fade out altogther and take a breath, at which point I'd start fading up and he'd start fading down in his turn. We got pretty good at it, to the point where we could pan a quite loud but apparently sourceless hum back and forth across a classroom like a little pair of stereo speakers.

Kids are just endlessly creative when it comes to inventing ways to torment teachers who manifestly don't like us. This one was a corker because we could also get them to blame practically anybody else. Never once got ourselves caught.
posted by flabdablet at 8:04 AM on July 13 [7 favorites]


Zumbador: "Oh I've thought of another one. I'm pretty good at translating between English and Afrikaans on the fly, as in reading in one language and translating it as I go."

I can do this in English and Spanish: read a text written in one language in the other in real-time.
posted by signal at 8:05 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Thought of another one as well. I can hook my ears up to my mouth without consciousness inserting itself in between to slow everything down, so if you're talking to me in a way I find irritating and I want to throw you completely off your train of thought, I can just echo everything you're saying with about 0.2 seconds of delay until your brain trips itself up and you stop.
posted by flabdablet at 8:08 AM on July 13 [7 favorites]


I can sleep anywhere, anytime, regardless of noise or light level, or even time of day.
posted by rpfields at 8:47 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


I am GREAT at telling the difference between the Olsen twins at any stage of their life. I wish I could monetize this skill.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:57 AM on July 13 [7 favorites]


I am extremely good at packing dishes/glassware for moves. In 15 years and ...lemme see, 7 moves? I have only lost one glass and, to be fair, it was exceptionally old and thin and fragile (its twin remains in my china cabinet even now). I never thought of this as an unusual skill but I recently helped a friend pack up her dining room for a move and she was astonished to find that nothing had chipped or broken.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:34 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


Wherever I travel, I get stopped and asked for directions. (Since I'm generally carrying a map, I can usually help.) I've been asked for directions in Tokyo, in Wales, and a number of cities in the US. I told my mom about this superpower when we went on a trip to the UK and France. She didn't believe me at first, but walking down the sidewalk in London I got flagged down by a vanload of men who wanted to know how to get to Victoria Station, later on I got stopped by a group of girls looking for Trafalgar Square, and we'd been in Paris for less than a day when I got stopped by two French-speaking men looking for directions to the Eiffel Tower.

Apparently I just look like I know where I am, or I'm non-threatening, which I am not sure about because I have the sort of default face that makes people ask me what I'm angry about. It's declined in recent years, with everyone carrying smartphones with GPS locating, but I get asked about parking or where buildings are at the university where I work when I'm walking around outside.

I can usually easily 3D map in my head--a friend I traveled with in Japan was stunned when I looked at a map in our Tokyo hotel for a short time, then led her to a breakfast place several blocks away without referring back to it, because apparently most people can't do that in Tokyo.

My partner can pick music out of any noise, and quite often identify it, without being a musician. We'll be in a restaurant where I would swear there is no music, but they'll start tapping fingers to the beat and humming along, or ask me if I recognize it.
posted by telophase at 9:36 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


I am very good at multiple choice tests. I can take multiple choice tests on subjects I know nothing about and still score well above random chance on them. This is a shockingly useful skill if, for example, you would like to go to a very competitive law school but your undergraduate grades were not super fantastic.

Sadly, it does not appear to translate to multiple choice tests in French, which are the current multiple choice tests I need to pass.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:39 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


I am a fucking world class bad ass at soldering and wirebonding. Which is actually sorta my job, though I've been promoted to mostly doing things I'm far less good at. Also, relatedly, really good at using a scribe on 5 micron scale features under a microscope manually. Less professionally, good at befriending stray cats.
posted by eotvos at 9:41 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


My self-doubt makes me wonder if I'm actually especially good at either of these, but this is the Internet and there's no way for any of you to verify so here goes:

Apparently I can speak German with a nearly flawless accent despite only studying it for a couple semesters forever ago and basically not speaking it since then. I can't say I'm a reliable judge of this but on my very first day in Germany I told people I only took a couple classes they were shocked. I also had to stop speaking German to people in shops because they all thought I was a native speaker and would speak too quickly and use vocabulary I wasn't familiar with (accentless ≠ knows lots of words). On a trip to Iceland I also surprised several people at how quickly I picked up the pronunciation of a few difficult Icelandic words - I could repeat back place names like "Svalbarðsstrandarhreppur"with apparently impressive accuracy, but with so many syllables I couldn't remember them for more than a minute or two.

Apparently I have a knack for understanding why something works the way it does once I understand how it works. At least it seems like people rely on me for "why" questions. Not just physical objects, but systems and bureaucracies too. People will ask "if we already did X why do we have to do Y, which is nearly identical to X?" and I'll guess, and by the end of the process I'm usually right. It's like I'm an empath but only for confusing bureaucracies. This doesn't help me understand how something works or navigate bureaucracies, but it helps me accept each step in the process without getting too frustrated.
posted by Tehhund at 10:08 AM on July 13 [14 favorites]


We'll be in a restaurant where I would swear there is no music, but they'll start tapping fingers to the beat and humming along

I have sort of the same skill, but on the other side of that coin. I'm a musician and have been listening closely to all sorts of music for many years; I have a very good "musical memory" and can accurately recall in my head the arrangement/key/details/etc. of any piece of music I'm familiar with. In public situations I'm very aware when there's music happening, but I'm more often than not NOT enjoying it because it's somehow just different enough from the original that it grates on my nerves. Especially "classic" pop tunes where they've replaced the drums with a simplistic and overly-loud drum machine track...I have no earthly clue why they do this because it's just godawful, but I keep hearing it happen.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:20 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Not odd or anything...

Even back in college I was good at troubleshooting computers. I worked in the computer lab. When I came in there were usually two or three units labeled hold for Splunge. And I got them all running again. Even if it was simply that the power switch on the back was in the off position. I loved the work, each computer was a puzzle to solve. This helped a lot in later jobs.

I'd like to think I could still do it. But don't we all? ;)
posted by Splunge at 10:26 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I'm more often than not NOT enjoying it because it's somehow just different enough from the original that it grates on my nerves.

Having just sat through four seasons of Stranger Things exactly because it was apparently responsible for bringing on a bit of a Kate Bush revival, I was furious with the utterly gratuitous and uncalled for hack and slash job they kept on doing on A Deal With God every time they used it in Season 4.
posted by flabdablet at 11:25 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Hi I am MiraK and I am fucking fantastic at reminding people not to chew their nails. You could be sitting behind me well out of my peripheral vision, you could be a full 30 feet away from me in a noisy cafe, but as long as you and I are close buddies and you have confided in me that you wish you could stop chewing your nails, my spidey senses start tingling when you even think about doing it.

None of this is even an exaggeration. I used to tell my ex husband to "stop looking at your nails in a speculative way, put your hand down!" when we were in different rooms of the house.
posted by MiraK at 12:19 PM on July 13 [7 favorites]


My business world goofy trick is that I can yawn while barely opening my mouth, such that no one can tell I am yawning.

It has been super helpful during an all-day meeting today.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:35 PM on July 13 [6 favorites]


I always get a great parking spot at Trader Joe's. (Angelenos will know this is basically a god-level superpower.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:37 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


supermedusa - same here! My dad taught me when I was 15 and said "It's not part of the driving test but you're not getting your license until you learn." I am a little rusty because I rarely have to do it anymore, but once at the dog park I got my car in an impossibly small spot and sent my dad a pic and said "Valedictorian, RadioDad School of Parallel Parking, class of [year redacted]"
posted by radioamy at 1:57 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


These are all so awesome. I often think how nice it would be to have some singular skill or talent. I've been able to turn my hand to a lot of different things, but none of them in a particularly deep way. Jill of all trades, mistress of none.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:04 PM on July 13


Having a wide range of skills is a personally beneficial talent, even without being an expert at any one thing!
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:28 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I can put just about anything back together again using only my brain's particular logic. It's much easier and quicker if I pulled it apart in the first place, but not strictly necessary.

I'm great at packing, whether it's a suitcase or a moving box or, particularly, packing a car to go camping. I've never played Tetris, but I play a winning game of Car-Tetris every time. I can get all those annoying-shaped, fragile items into a spot where they won't break and there's almost no air left around them. Just don't get me to pack your car if I'm not going to be around at the other end to re-pack (my daughter made this mistake once).
posted by dg at 2:33 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]


In my student days, I reshelved books in the university library. I was preternaturally good at noticing books that weren't in the right place. I didn't have to scan the call numbers to spot them; a book would just jump out at me as being unlike its neighbors in some fatal way. A few of the books I recovered had been missing for years. I often wondered what percentage of lost books were right there in the building.
posted by aws17576 at 2:42 PM on July 13 [9 favorites]


It's like I'm an empath but only for confusing bureaucracies.

What an interesting and surprising talent, Tehhund!
posted by Bella Donna at 2:45 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Tehhund, I also have the accent thing! I think it stems from just being a good mimic, or sometimes I've wondered if moving around a lot as a child had anything to do with it. But in both French and Spanish, even though I just speak a little of both and can't actually speak them fluently at all, my accent is good enough that people think I can. Honestly I sort of hate it - it's weirdly embarrassing to sound much better than you actually are and it makes me clam up and be afraid to say anything at all or, worse, try to fake a bad American accent.
posted by mygothlaundry at 3:27 PM on July 13 [6 favorites]


I used to be so damn good at Minesweeper.

I still find four-leaf clovers.
posted by eirias at 3:46 PM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Color-matching jigsaw puzzle pieces.
posted by sugarbomb at 4:22 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


There's something about my face that gets people to open up. I learn their life histories in mere minutes. I like to think I'm a retail version of a bartender, and people seem to feel better after they get stuff off their chests.
posted by annieb at 5:25 PM on July 13 [7 favorites]


As a result of endless singing at the top of my lungs since I was little, I can yell really really loudly. This is quite helpful on bike rides. My other superpower—also bike related—is blowing no-handed snot rockets. This used to greatly impress the riders when I was coaching.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:36 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Toronto seems to be the world capital of having people who are a little bit famous, or Canadian-famous anyway.

Tell me about it. I used to live with this lady in Parkdale and everyone sort of recognized her.

It turns out our old house is now apparently a café. I haven't set foot in the building in thirty years, but next week I am meeting for lunch with a friend from school whom I have not seen since the eighties. She has been living abroad and confessed she does not know Toronto that well. She suggested we meet near where she is staying, which is a block from where I used to live. I am going to pitch the café as a venue for lunch, if only because it will seem like a dream ("Yeah, I was back in my house in Parkdale, but it was a restaurant or something, and I think Jenny Bryce* from school was there with me...").

Anyway, as for super powers:

1. Never had a hangover, ever, despite a prodigious capacity for alcohol in days past.

2. No sense of smell and weirdly, no body odour, ever. (Before you say that I probably stink and don't know it, I have had more than a few partners who would have been more than happy to tell me. My wife came home from work last week mildly disconcerted because she had forgotten to put deodorant on that morning. I mentioned I had forgotten for like thirty-five years, and she said, "I know. That's weird.")

3. Kittens, little dogs, and babies adore me. I am okay with this.

*Not her real name, for privacy. Good song, though.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:54 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I have the uncanny--and unfortunate--ability to make frequent unintentional raspberry sounds. Shifting in or sliding across a leather seat is a common cause of it, but this week I've also done it by turning in an office chair when the armrest was touching the underside of the desk, by shifting a jar in my hand when holding it by the plastic lid, and by walking quickly down the hall in ill-fitting jeans, fabric folding and unfolding in the seat making a ftt. ftt. ftt. sound behind me.

The most ridiculous--and probably irreproducible--time I can remember was about 15 years ago when a coworker laid a piece of paper on a desk for me and I put my hand on it and pulled it towards me with just the right amount of pressure to cause it to vibrate against the table sounding like a long dry fart.

A friend of mine calls it the world's worst superpower.
posted by johnofjack at 6:27 PM on July 13 [9 favorites]


I can find anyone a job except myself :)
posted by lloquat at 7:00 PM on July 13 [6 favorites]


I have a weirdly encyclopedic knowledge of 70s and 80s character actors. I’m decent at eras before and after that, but for some reason I know every damn person from those two decades. Very GenX, I know.
posted by holborne at 7:13 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Well, if we're including physical quirks, I do have this inconveniently stupid high tolerance for pain. I would think it was all tied up with being punished for complaining about anything as a child, but my mother says it goes back to infancy so there's probably some organic element. She says the pediatrician didn't believe her that I hadn't been crying for days with the severity of the ear infection I had.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:32 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]


I don't know if I could still do it, but there was a time when I could reach into a large stack of cash bills and pull out exactly the desired amount, or very nearly so, just by feel.
posted by Comet Bug at 11:59 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: It's like I'm an empath, but only for confusing bureaucracies
posted by dmh at 1:59 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I'm in a role with four younger men, we meet once week and hash things out. I don't do this bit often, because if I did they'd be ready with some horses ass bullshit answer; generally it's a rabbit I pull out of the hat maybe twice a year, or less.

We get to talking along, about this, about that, about the other, it's all casual and pleasant, relaxed, and then, out of nowhere, looking them dead in the eye, I ask them to tell me whatever it is that they absolutely do not want to talk about.

It's great fun, watching them squirm, and be unhappy, and hate my fucking guts. Meanwhile, I wait patiently, calm, like a cat outside a mouse hole. it's a really shitty thing to do, and I really enjoy it.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:12 AM on July 14 [5 favorites]


I can hum and whistle simultaneously.* I don't know if this is unique or just something normal people don't generally consider doing but the number of people who have asked, "how are you making that sound?" suggests it's at least slightly unusual. So yeah.


*Not like a tune or anything more just a drone with a deep rumbly buzz and the high, sharp whistle cutting through.
posted by Mister_Sleight_of_Hand at 5:51 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


We get to talking along, about this, about that, about the other, it's all casual and pleasant, relaxed, and then, out of nowhere, looking them dead in the eye, I ask them to tell me whatever it is that they absolutely do not want to talk about.

Hahahahaha joke's on you, one of my superpowers is that I want to talk about EVERYTHING.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:56 AM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Packing things in tight spaces; knowing if X thing will fit in Y space even if they're not in the same room. I was always the chump in the kiln-hot moving van Tetrising the furniture and boxes people were bringing out.

I can find and relieve muscle and tendon pains/aches just by touch. Generally the first person people recite symptoms to for a medical diagnosis and things to try to help relieve whatever it is.

Looking at people for a few seconds and knowing if they're an evil/sociopathic. Sometimes can even do it with just a photo. Almost always right about it. Something about the eyes.

Terrific memory for places I've been/things I've seen in real life, photos, or in video games. No memory for names/dates/numbers, very little memory about books I've read.

I am always the person who hears the funny noise first, and figures out whether it's a problem. I'm the person who hears the sad cat who got locked out, or hears the tie rod clunking, or that the dryer belt has snapped and the drum isn't rotating any more, or that the toaster oven thermostat has failed and it's just going to heat forever until the safety trips, etc etc etc.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:57 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Smelling things. This was not the superpower I wanted.
posted by liminal_shadows at 10:40 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]


I compulsively and stubborn-headedly insist on automating something, spending at least twice the time I will spend doing the thing in my entire life time googling and bug-fixing.

What I need is the skill of sufficient patience to document the automated version and teach someone else to do it.
posted by lookoutbelow at 11:16 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


I can hum and whistle simultaneously.* I don't know if this is unique or just something normal people don't generally consider doing but the number of people who have asked, "how are you making that sound?" suggests it's at least slightly unusual. So yeah.

Not totally unique, but strangely few people ever try (I can do it too, so perhaps I am overestimating how easy it is). Keeping two separate melodies going would be more challenging.

I faintly recall reading once about some UK author -- possibly Anthony Burgess, but don't hold me to it -- who did this, as did his daughter. They used to perform movements from classical quartets as a party trick.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:48 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Well, if we're including physical quirks,

Decades of playing cello and upright bass have left me with one hand that spans an inch further than the other.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:50 AM on July 14 [5 favorites]


I can hum and whistle simultaneously.
Not totally unique, but strangely few people ever try


I learned it as a kid from trying to imitate the OG Batmobile. I mean, it wasn't a perfect match but close enough!
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:55 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


My sister once smelled a kitchen fire two houses away, before the people in the house with the fire did.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:14 PM on July 14 [7 favorites]


I have perfect parking karma.

Years ago I got a massive concussion that led to some brain damage and years of recovery.

Now, I can always get a parking space near the front door of anywhere I want to go, and I get it by thinking it.

I know it sounds bananas. It is. But it's also true.

When I'm going somewhere, I just think, "Get a spot by the door," and I swear I feel a little **click** in my brain and inevitably there is an empty spot right where I want to be. I don't have to drive laps. It's just there.

My kids noticed it about 10 years ago, and I know it's inexplicable but what can I say. It does NOT work if I'm a passenger; only if I'm the driver.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:37 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


My mental map of my body is about 1.5" smaller than the real thing all around. As a result I'm really good at breaking things by accidentally sweeping them off tables while gesturing or, honestly, just while simply existing nearby.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 6:45 PM on July 14 [7 favorites]


My partner always says she's amazed by my ability to have a conversation with damn near anyone. I tend to have a pretty good memory if I've read or seen something, and like to read , so I guess I have a broad base of knowledge, though not super deep in most areas. People will ask me oh are you into F1 or did you spend time in Germany to know about the CDU and Merkel (or whatever). And usually it's a couple of articles I read and the ability to just ask people questions that gets them talking.

Thinking back, it partially stems from my childhood where I often would info dump on what I was interested in to people, and they absolutely didn't care, so I was often not super poplar. In/after college I realized this and wanted to fit in more, so felt that no one cares what I'm into, but they love to talk about themselves, and I'm generally happy to learn more about the world. So this way I'm happy enough and I'm not worried I'm being that guy I used to be and boring the pants off people.
posted by Carillon at 11:23 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


When I make a smoothie or a milkshake, I eyeball everything, and I never under or overfill the glass I end up drinking from.
posted by The Adventure Begins at 12:09 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I'm at 0.75" of ricochet biscuit's inch-wider bass-playing hands.
I'm in on with the 'the background music is ...' which developed into the joke that Dido's White Flag playing means that Dido is personally following me around.
I'm astounded that Jessamyn doesn't the the standard three attempts/two flips for a USB-A cable.

None of the following are superpowers, just a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long time careering about this planet.

* I whistle on the in-breath as well as the out-breath -- and it's not just because I'm a gaping maw of a human being. The tuning is different, so you have to adapt position of your tongue between the two phases.

* I can find a place to put a hyphen where many don't. There's the Society for Sentences of Heightened-Hyphenation, too.

*I've learned what weight of coffee beans are to 0.1g due to ... weighing them out a few times each day and over-/under-correcting a bit.

* I have a list of mashed-together songs where the patterns of a few different items come together. My brain suggests them inconveniently (yesterday a Michael Jackson/Manic Street Preachers overlap, a while back I could only sing "I'm just a poor boy / nobody lo-oves me / I'll never meet the grou-ou-ound" for the chorus of Gaga's Shallow).

*I trained my earbrows to move independently as a teen and also trained myself to recognise what middle C and friends sound like, something I still hear many people claim 'you've either got it or you don't'.

* My job involves diagnosing complex computer system failure and I have learned the assumptions that unwitting people bake into the system. I mostly guess right first time which assumption it was, which you can tell from the syndrome of a specific failure. At some point I joked about 'filing bugs on the organisation' because it's mostly not the computers -- given they're very good at following orders very fast -- at fault that they're given bad direction.
posted by k3ninho at 12:41 AM on July 15


Just thought of another one. Totally useless.
I used to teach Flash and actionscript 2.
A student would demonstrate a broken interactive project, and I would be able to tell them on what timeline the scripting error is just by looking at the movie.

It was like being able to feel a heat source with my eyes closed.

Part of the trick was to ignore the student's diagnosis of what the problem is in the first place (never mind the cause of the problem) as 10 to 1, their assumptions were blinding them.

"This button doesn't work" tended to actually be "that is not a button at all, and it also never actually loads in the first place".

Soooo many hours spent learning actionscript and writing notes on it for beginners...
posted by Zumbador at 1:05 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I share some of the talents people mention here (hi face super-recognizers!), but a "talent" I'm pretty good at is blowing spit bubbles off of my tongue. On googling, turns out this is a thing, but I rarely meet people who can/admit to doing it.

It something I used to enjoy doing, because it's satisfying and requires a quite subtle series of motions, but I guess some people find it gross... according to my mother, I was just spitting everywhere all the time as a kid (it's so much cooler than spitting!).

It was years into my marriage that I said to my wife, "Hey, you know what I can do? ..." And when I showed her the trick she was very impressed and thought it was cool. This was somehow extremely validating for me.
posted by Alex404 at 1:58 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I can running write backwards quite easily.
posted by h00py at 4:20 AM on July 15

I can always plug in a USB cable the right way up every time
An old and stale joke physicists tell is that USB devices are spin-3. (Which is a real thing about elementary particles that can be described as having to rotate three times to get back to where you started. It doesn't quite exactly mean that, but it does when making hallway jokes.)

Neither I nor people who I've met with the title of "chief technologist" can get it right. Usb-c is great.
posted by eotvos at 5:02 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I can hold a pencil between my nose and upper lip, drop in into my mouth, then push it back up to the original position.

You probably can too, if you practice, but I was part of an elite highschool study group that invented this party tick you've never heard of.

Friend from that group could unwrap candies with her toes and then pop them in her mouth without any use of her hands, so despite my skills I remain humble.
posted by chapps at 7:10 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I tend to have a pretty good memory if I've read or seen something, and like to read , so I guess I have a broad base of knowledge, though not super deep in most areas... And usually it's a couple of articles I read and the ability to just ask people questions that gets them talking

For anyone else, this is really good advice for being able to make small talk. Find something that the other person likes to talk about, that you know just enough about to be able to validate the points they make. I used to travel to a lot for work, often to really small towns, and once I was at my wife's company Christmas party. This was just after my wife had started at this job, so she didn't know a lot of people, and much of the party was co-workers introducing themselves to her as well as to me. All of them had little brief bios on the company website, so she knew little bits of information about them, and they knew little bits about her. My wife knew one co-worker who had briefly worked at my alma mater, and so she was intent to introduce me to her. I do the thing I always do, which is to ask if that's where they're from, because it's rarely the case that they're actually from there. The co-worker wasn't; she mentioned she's from eastern Iowa. As it happened, eastern Iowa is somewhere I'd traveled for work, so I asked for more specifics. "Oh, kind of between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo", which is the same place I'd traveled for work. So I asked "like Center Point area?". Center Point is a town of like 2000 people; I bet most people in Iowa haven't even heard of it. But as it turned out, my wife's co-worker had been one of those 2000 people growing up. So we chatted about whether she knew the people I'd traveled there to work with, and then we just kept talking. The three of us ended up not talking to anyone else the rest of the night, she came over to our place a couple weeks later to hang out, and now, four years later, that co-worker is my wife's best friend. All because I remember names of towns.

Similarly, I had a conversation yesterday with a co-worker of mine about traffic in Fort Collins, Colorado. (I live and work in New Hampshire, it should be noted.) We were at our summer company picnic, and she mentioned she'd just moved here from Colorado. I of course asked where; Greeley. She was surprised that I knew where Greeley was, and I responded that it's kind of a big-ish city. She mentioned that that hadn't always been the case, but I said that's true for most cities in that part of Colorado - most of the outlying cities around Denver have experienced major growth. I explained that I'd been to Fort Collins in 1992, and back then it was a sleepy little college town, but I hear that now it's actually pretty big, and that led to her talking about the traffic problems. I don't know the slightest bit about traffic in Fort Collins in 2022, but just knowing that something exists is often enough to get a conversation started.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:34 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


also trained myself to recognise what middle C and friends sound like

I don't have perfect pitch (thank God) but I have good relative pitch and my bottom note is fairly consistently an E-natural, so I can usually guess a pitch I hear pretty well.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:38 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I have, or rather used to have, the opposite skill of being able to break software in new and exciting ways. To the point of the IT person being utterly beside themselves about how that should be impossible to do.

It happens less often now, my assumption is that software is more robust.

If I hang out with a person for any length of time I will adopt their laugh.
posted by emjaybee at 8:41 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I can always plug in a USB cable the right way up every time

I didn't realize this was a special talent and that many people actually struggled with it - I assumed the memes were just being silly. I just take a very quick glance at which way the plug and jack are oriented and adjust as necessary, et voila - straight in first time. If the USB jack is on the side of a computer, I don't even need to check the jack because the plastic insert in the plug pretty consistently needs to be on the bottom. Maybe I should teach classes...
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:27 AM on July 15


my assumption is that software is more robust

Yeah, nah
posted by flabdablet at 10:37 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I can induce people to burp just by being near them. This skill has proved useful precisely once so far
posted by scruss at 12:28 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


That's ridiculous. Nobody could possiblBRAAAAAAAP

what the actual fuck
posted by flabdablet at 12:29 PM on July 15 [11 favorites]


Just realised i have a weird tendency to act impulsive and somewhat fearless or rash which is in stark contrast to my general preference to be a Control Freak and never allow surprise if possible.

I live on the ground floor of a typical Viennese turn of the century house. These buildings have a buzzer system at the entrance with a push button for each apartment door. From my small garden i can hear all buzzers on all floors especially if windows are open, like tonight. No one has AC. So it is just getting dark and i can hear someone pressing all door buzzers, up and down, including mine. In a mixture of annoyance and curiousity instead of just replying to the buzzers and asking who this is (as a seasoned Viennese should), i walked from the garden to the entrance to the building to see who is buzzing every buzzer. I saw a total stranger and let him in.
He looked a bit nervous but not dangerous. He said that he lost his house keys. But i knew he was not one of the neighbours. He said he needed something from the court yard. Now i should have been afraid because the only things in this court yard are my garden, fenced off from the section of the court yard with the dust bins and bycicles. I followed him into the court yard and he stared at my garden fence as if to open the gate. I asked him what are you looking for? He said his Vespa Bike, He had left it here many years ago when his wife kicked him out. I laughed and explained to him i had moved it to another corner of the court yard only a couple of months ago, as it was annoying that it was right by my fence and gate, and to paint said fence i moved it, after asking all current neighbours whose it was and no one knew, and as literally moss grew on it i was not worried of damaging it.
He then produced the key but it was impossible to start or even just get the wheels to move. I chatted with him, and we agreed he would need help transporting it away. Then he left.

So anyway, it reminded me that there is this part of me that lacks fear. I have not seen it in the last three years, as so many bad things had happened to my son and me, and i forgot i could be like this. Careless. Fearless. It is nice to know that it still exists within.
posted by 15L06 at 1:50 PM on July 15 [15 favorites]


I have the mimicry, earworming and parallel-parking genes. I am also pretty good at humourously re-writing the lyrics to popular somgs on the fly in response to whatever's going on and who I'm hanging out with, or coming up with limericks. I can also balance many different kind of things on each other in stange and unpredictable ways.
posted by Chairboy at 6:08 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


That's ridiculous. Nobody could possiblBRAAAAAAAP

That's pretty much how the only time this has been useful worked out. A friend had just had a baby in the summer almost 20 years ago. They didn't have AC, and she was suffering and the baby had been colicky for the last few days. It was not a good time.

So I called her, and she sounded miserable, and the baby was screaming in the background. I commiserated, and joked lightly about how I can make people burp. With an "Oh, please", my friend put the phone near their baby. All I said was "Hello, little baby ..." and there was a massive BRAAAAAAAP! from the other end of the line, followed by much rejoicing.
posted by scruss at 8:00 PM on July 15 [15 favorites]


h'raaaay
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:59 PM on July 15


I can kill the mood in any room by my very presence. Does that count?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:28 AM on July 16 [5 favorites]


I am Finder. I can find things. I can sense which way is north, day or night. I might also be a human jukebox, because snippets of song come to mind for nearly every occasion.
posted by Lynsey at 10:46 AM on July 16


I am Finder. I can find things.

This is also my wife's skill... and curse. It's handy that to locate anything in the house, she can concentrate for ninety seconds and say, "Bathroom closet, second shelf from the top, near the back. It's in a white plastic bag. Right hand side." On the other hand, she can be just turning the light off to go to sleep and I can ask her where the extension cords or steel wool or three-hole punch is and she will mutter, "You bastard," and have to answer. She's like a figure from Greek myth.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:05 PM on July 16 [8 favorites]


I used to be extremely good at thinking of the word you couldn't think of if you told me the sentence. I'm not sure this is still true.
posted by less-of-course at 11:55 PM on July 25


I don’t have a control group to compare this to, but either I am excellent at being able to tell if food has been anywhere near a banana, or my partner is very bad at it. This week I have noticed a subtle banana flavour in our butter and some fava beans, and in the past have detected it in tea brewed from bags that have briefly shared counter space with a ripe banana. I actually love bananas! But once something has been infected by bananas, I dislike it. A rubbish super power.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:29 AM on July 26


A rubbish super power.

Bananaman!

Banana Detectorman?

Detectorman?
posted by Zumbador at 10:29 AM on July 26


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