Monday, February 22, 2010

The Humility Post

It has come to my attention through years of research (i.e., public embarrassment) that there are certain things that I can not do. At all. Ever. Like, don't even bother trying to teach me because many have already tried and failed. These are gaps that will never be bridged.

I've managed to live a relatively normal life despite my deficits. I maneuver around certain situations. I compensate. I flat-out lie.

No more. As of today, I am owning my shortcomings. Consider this is my public service announcement. Do not EVER expect me to display competence in the following areas. From now on, any expectations related to these categories and the subsequent disappointment you will inevitably suffer are your problem and not mine. Capisce?

French Braiding: I have two daughters. Hair-styling is part of the job description, so several years ago I hired my beautician, Jody, to teach me to French braid. She worked with me for 45 minutes, demonstrating several techniques on Bear. I carefully watched her deft fingers, I completely understood the concept, but when I took over to practice it looked not unlike a pair of knot-tying chimps had been let loose on my daughter's head. Jody watched my work with a politely horrified smile and ended our session by suggesting that perhaps I should practice on a Barbie Styling Head. I did. When Bug came home from preschool and saw what I'd done to her Barbie head, she cried.

Spatial Reasoning: When I was in kindergarten, the teacher gave us each a small wooden puzzle to put together. "When you're done with your puzzles, please put them back on the shelf, then come over to the carpet for Story Time," she told us. I had a fire truck puzzle of perhaps 12 pieces. I got a few of the pieces placed correctly but was goddamned if I could fit the others in. Out of my peripheral vision, I could see that some of the kids were already sliding their finished puzzles back onto the shelf. Anxiously, I stared at the pieces of fire truck in front of me. It had to be a trick. No way would those pieces fit together. The last of my classmates were putting away their completed puzzles and heading over to the Story Time Rug, leaving just me all alone with The Fire Truck Puzzle from Hell.

I swallowed my panic, carefully stacked the pieces on the puzzle board, and placed it quietly on the puzzle shelf. Then I left. Left as in walked right out of that school and was heading home when my bus driver spotted me and picked me up. He took me home, where I tearfully told my flabbergasted mother that I was not going back to kindergarten ever. When my kindergarten teacher showed up at my house that evening carrying the puzzle, my shame was complete. However, she gently led me through piecing together that damn fire truck, and I graciously agreed to give formal education a second chance.

My spatial skills have not improved much in the ensuing 33 years, meaning that I will have to try an average of five Tupperware containers before finding the correct size to house the leftover pasta salad and that when I'm shopping and hold up a shirt to gauge its size, I'm unclear as to whether it will fit me, either of my kids, or perhaps the cat.

Football: In junior high gym class, I once made a touchdown for the opposing team. As I ran fleetly down the field, I thought my teammates were screaming my name in kind of a "Yay, Jenn! Way to run that ball!" kind of way. Turns out it was more of a "Turn around, you utter freaking moron," way, and several of the boys were seriously pissed at what I still consider an honest mistake given the baffling nature of that game. OK, admittedly, I might have more of a shot at understanding football if I gave a crap about it. I don't, and I don't see that changing any time soon.

Recognizing People Out of Context: Let's say that your kid is in the same dance class as my kid. We see each other once or twice a week. I say hi to you when I come into the dance studio, and we've probably even chatted a bit as we stand and watch our daughters' class. Now let's say that you see me at the grocery store. We're in the same aisle, even. I will walk right past you with no indication that I've ever seen you before in my life.

And if you come up to me and say hi? I will happily respond and even chit-chat with you for several minutes before making my escape to the produce section, where I will have a minor panic attack because I still have no idea who you are. Weeks later, I may or may not make the connection. Probably not. Don't take this personally.

A good rule of thumb is that I will need to interact with you about 20 times before I recognize you on a regular basis. But all bets are off if you: (a.) change your hairstyle or color, (b.) wear a hat or sunglasses, or (c.) wave to me as you drive past in your car.

So, how about you? What is something that you consistently fail at? (Feel free to make something up to make me feel better).


Heather said...

I can relate to every one of these! I am also "directionally-challenged" and have to hold my fingers out to see which makes an "L" before I put my contacts in (every time for the past 26 years or so...) Saw your post on the Women's Colony, so glad to find your blog!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I am laughing at the idea of you quitting kindergarten like that. You poor thing! And I can only french braid my own hair--not any one else's.
My failures? I cannot cook potatoes, make soup, do ANYTHING crafty or put together an outfit. So you'd recognize me if you met me--the poorly dressed girl shunning Michael's and Joann Fabrics.

Anonymous said...

I can french braid my own hair but not anyone else's.

You poor thing and your puzzle. Sorry you're scarred for life.

jenn said...

Meg, seriously I am. I can still remember how embarrassed I was that day! I guess it will all come out in therapy some day.

Susan said...

I cannot knit or crochet - and I can sew only by machine.

I cause our computer to go to the blue screen of death and lose all it's files so frequency that I am now the only family member who uses it. I have no idea of what I do to cause this. My screen name is Computer Killer.

I cannot make candy. I can bake anything. I fail at candy making, including fudge which my husband finds very nearly unforgivable.

Jen on the Edge said...

I can't French braid to save my life either. However, I kick big A-- at spatial reasoning and puzzles.

However, I will say that any knitting beyond basic squares and rectangles utterly fails me. I just can't do it. And I'm a total loss with the sewing machine.

smalltownmom said...

I hate planning things, and we are getting e-mails about volunteers needed for planning the 8th grade graduation...oh dear.

Lindsey said...

Oh, I so relate to you!!! Never recognize people out of context. I smile and hope they give me a clue...
"How is Marie doing in school?" They must know Marie
"How are things going at work?" They must have retired from our office
"How's the dog?" They must be from the dog park. Fortunately, I'm good at faking it and covering my tracks!!!
Lindsey Petersen

Dawn in Austin said...

So funny!! I loved each of these.

I'm with Heather. I'm directionally challenged. When we lived in Trinidad, they drive on the other side of the road. I still had my car from the US, so it was even more challenging.

Anyway, right is still right and left is still left. But for some reason, my brain tells me if I cross traffic, it's a left and if I turn curbside it's a right. Yeah, I'm still messed up. So I do have to point which way to go (because I will say the wrong way).

Cynthia Peel said...

Very funny! I'm right there with you and the spatial reasoning thing. :) Good for me that I married a man with those skills or we'd never even get our groceries put away properly.

And I totally remember the junior high P.E. football games out behind the school. However, I actually enjoyed them, because I could often "sack the quarterback," or run down an arrogant boy carrying the ball. I always loved the absolute shock on their faces after a GIRL had just clobbered them. We were usually limited to just pulling their flags, but still the victory was just as sweet.

Thanks for the memories!

Nana said...

Oh, how well I remember the fire truck puzzle problem!

For me it's whistling and winking. Never could do either one.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I can't find my way out of a paper bag, but I can French braid like nobody's business.