TAoN No. 120: Attending to specific little quirks. Plus: a new icebreaker, and more.
A quirk about me. I like the toilet paper to roll over rather than under on the holder. I often change this in friends’ houses and even in restaurants! Why does it matter? I don’t know!
In a world of first impressions, quirks and oddities are something that people's memories use as an anchor, correct or not. You'll remember the kid who peed her pants in elementary school, the kid who got caught picking his nose, or the sullen kid of indeterminate gender who affected a Goth look. Or, in kinder ways, you'll remember the colleague who likes black licorice, who loves to sing Sledgehammer at Karaoke, or who always wears their Yankees ball cap when among friends.
As Wilde once wrote, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
My mother recently turned 90 and my siblings and I shared a Google spreadsheet where we listed all of the things that reminded us of her. The list developed into an incredible mixture that celebrated her depth and compassion, her hilarious habits and quirks, her likes and dislikes, and the traditions she built for her family. It made us reach into our memories and extract the small details so easily forgotten. My mom laughed at the things we remembered and I think it gave her a sense of accomplishment that all of her efforts mattered and that we will cherish them and her forever.
My first car -- one I held the title for all by myself -- was a blue VW bug which we learned had been painted to conceal the rust that had been eating away at the doors and floor for years. We discovered this when we hit a large bump one winter and a part of the floor fell away. We tried to keep cardboard over it but it never worked and inevitably friends would climb in, see the road passing beneath them, and get out at the earliest possible opportunity.
As for first impressions, my husband may offer the time he arranged for me to meet an old friend for breakfast, a meeting delayed when I somehow got caught in a newspaper vending machine. His friend, the only one among us who had enough quarters, kept putting them in while my husband yanked on the door. There have been other incidents, more bizarre with other peole. My mate now introduces me thusly: this is Betsy, she does her own stunts. I suspect he may work that into my epitaph should he outlive me.
I could cry with the beauty of this topic. The noticing of those little quirks is surely the joy that is life and connection.
I would vote “Are You the Same Person You Used to Be?” as a very interesting icebreaker!
Thank you Rob for the reference :)
My first car was a 2CV, iconic design, painfully bad at going up slopes, but full of fun memories of trips through the foggy valleys of Switzerland, the canals of the Netherlands and the vineyards around Lyon.
I keep a little binder of Phish ticket stubs and a paddy cap with pins of different places I've been to, have been a regular at several coffee shops through the years and hold a strange yet unabashed affinity for Starbucks (I went to the original location once and felt...a lot of feels?), am a decorated amateur fantasy sports player, and made a painting of Smaug I am most proud of.