Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More things gotten wrong

Last week I culled some language-related answers from the huge AskMetafilter thread responding to this question:

What in life did it take you a surprisingly long time to realize you've been doing wrong all along?
Here are my other favorites from the thread:
I'm 41. Last year I learned that pimentos are in fact NOT the red center of an olive. We saw some olives stuffed with bleu cheese at the grocery store, so I asked a friend how they got the pimento out in order to stuff in the cheese.

Said friend just stared at me. (link)

[I]t took me a while to figure out that other people can't actually read my mind, and that it's unfair to expect them to. It takes a bit of effort, but I'm a lot better off actually starting a conversation about some perceived issue than waiting and hoping someone will notice that my brain is wildly waving its hand in the air. (link)

[T]he point of small talk, and why people engage in it.

I used to think small talk was the most boring, pointless thing ever, until I realized it's often a way for people to feel more comfortable with one another before continuing the conversation. It's like handing someone a small familiar appetizer before bringing out one's personal plate of weirdness. Makes things go down a little more smoothly. (link)

Goals are now just placeholders. General aims. I've been much happier since transitioning to being more about the journey or process than reaching some arbitrary memoir building bullet point that I think I want, but don't really. (link)
That one's been important for me to realize; in fact, I'm still in the process of internalizing it. I keep imagining that my life is supposed to build up to this great biography and that it's important for me to stay on track to reach that goal. Aside from the obvious flaws with this mindset (that you probably won't be famous enough to be the subject of a major biography; that even if you were, it would still be more valuable to enjoy life as it happens), one knock-down argument against it, in my own case, is that I don't even like reading biographies of anyone!

Back to the thread:
I learned less than a year ago how to figure out which glass is mine when sitting with a big group at a round table: curl your middle, ring, and pinky fingers on each hand down to touch your thumb while leaving your pointer finger straight up. One hand will be it the shape of a lower-case b, and that is the side with your bread plate; the other hand will be in the shape of a lower-case d, and that is the side with your drink.

Before, I had to wait until someone sitting next to me claimed a glass and bread plate before I could start enjoying anything, and half the time they were wrong anyway. Making letters in my lap is a much, much better way to do it. (link)

One thing I've only recently realized is that it's stupid to "save things for best." Dishes, sheets, expensive bath products, etc... - use them on a regular basis, or they're worthless. (link)

That life has no meaning. Liberating. (link)

I didn't realize until my early twenties that if a man would have sex with me, all it meant was that he wanted to have sex with me, not that he liked me as a person or found me attractive. This is the one thing that was left out of the sex talk that my mom had with me that really would have been helpful to include. (link)

When I was little I asked my father about turn signals on a car. I wanted to know how he told the car which way he wanted to turn. He would never give me a straight answer. He kept saying, "it just knows." I figured he was jiggling the steering wheel in some way, I never saw him deliberately switch anything on. Granted, I was always in the backseat, so I didn't really have a good view.

Cut to many years later, when I was 17. I had never learned to drive (still haven't), so I hadn't had any first hand experience. I was in a pick up truck with someone I was fairly desperate to impress. I don't know why it occurred to me to ask just then, sitting in the passenger side, all cool and adult.

"So," I ask. "How does the car know which way you want to turn?"

You can imagine the look I got. Whose fault? My dad's. (link)

If you try foods enough times you might eventually get to liking them. . . . How could I have hated mushrooms!?

If you don't ask you'll never know. - Girls, employment, raises, resources.

When I was in (private, fundie Christian) elementary school, my teacher told me that dinosaurs weren't real, that their bones had been put in the ground by Satan to lead us from The Light. Around the same time there was a scandal at a nearby history museum that one of the dinosaurs on display was actually made from the bones of two different species.

I got the two incidents mixed up in my mind and didn't believe in dinosaurs until COLLEGE.

I still have a hard time believing in them, honestly . . . (link)

I was well into my teens before I figured out that the phrase "Any Time" on "No Parking" signs meant that you couldn't park there, ever. I thought for years that it was the sign's way of saying "You're welcome," as in an imagined dialogue:

Car: I'd like to park here.
Sign: No parking.
Car: Oh, OK. Thanks.
Sign: Any time.