I do my best philosophical thinking while I’m folding laundry. The other day, as I folded yet another fitted sheet and realized both that I actually know how to fold a fitted sheet, and also that there is no point to folding a fitted sheet, I started thinking about how many other things I know that serve no practical purpose. For instance, I know Cookie Monster’s first name. It’s Sid. No one needs to know that (except, presumably, Sid).
Then I started wondering: how did I wind up with all this useless knowledge? It began with a few odd bits of information from family and friends, knowledge I never wanted but kept anyway to be polite (like how to fold a fitted sheet), but over time it became such a massive pile of crap in my mental garage that there was barely enough room for the Porsche 911 that the Little Blind Girl In My Head totally drives.
Now, though, I need that space for things like retirement planning and how to tell if fruit is ripe. So, to clear out my mental garage, I’ve decided to have a mental yard sale. I thought about having an auction, but I don’t really need any more voices in my head. So if you like to stockpile pointless facts for emergency use at, judging from experience, family reunions and office parties, come spend a little time in my psyche (it’s BYOB). I’ve got some good stuff. Here’s a sample item:
There isn’t one. Everyone just assumes they’re for washing your fingers. Finger bowls aren’t brought out until just before the dessert course in a formal dinner, however, and— formal dinners not being known for their finger food— you’ll almost never need to wash your fingers at this point in the meal. The proper thing to do with a finger bowl is almost always to set it off to the left so it doesn’t get in the way of the dessert.
In fact, needing to use a finger bowl is the fine dining equivalent of the walk of shame. It means you’re such a messy eater that, despite having been provided with three different spoons, four different forks, and six different knives, you still managed to get food all over your hands. Honestly, it’s like you were raised in a barn.
(If this happens, by the way, no one actually expects you to use the finger bowl. Just wipe your fingers discreetly on your napkin and then “accidentally” let the napkin slip to the floor, at which point you have an excuse to replace it with a cleaner model. This method has served me well for years.)
I realize this isn’t much of a sales pitch, so I’ll throw in another, somewhat related bit of arcane table manners trivia free of charge:
Unlike much of what was said at the recent political conventions, this is actually true. You may daintily dine on the succulent shoots without using so much as an asparagus tong and then smugly wiggle your fingers around in your finger bowl in perfect propriety, though you should stop short of flicking water at the people who used utensils.
Unfortunately for me, I hate asparagus, so this fascinating knowledge does me no good, even if the Queen of England were to invite me to a formal asparagus tasting replete with finger bowls of every description. One little blind girl’s trash is someone else’s treasure, though, so up for sale it goes.
I went on Tumblr a few times to try to understand what it is, but the longest I went without getting trapped in porn was fourteen minutes. It may be that porn is, in fact, the proper use of Tumblr, I’m not sure. But I’m told there’s more to it, and knowing how to use Tumblr seems more relevant these days than knowing how to use a finger bowl— at any rate, it’s certainly more common. So if you’re interested or if you’ve got something else to trade, feel free to make an offer. I’m open to negotiation, and I really want my mind-garage back.
And anyway, Queen Victoria once drank from a finger bowl, so what do I know?
(All images are in the public domain via pixabay.com)
Sometimes people ask me if I have a seeing eye dog; I don’t. I’ve been holding out for a seeing eye Sasquatch. I don’t have one yet, and it looks like it’s going to be a while. The training period for a seeing eye Sasquatch is notoriously long, mostly due to their tendency to tear the arms off their trainers. I think they’re worth the wait, though. A seeing eye Sasquatch can do so much more than a guide dog can do. For instance:
When you’re visually impaired, guide dogs can make it easier for you to move around in unfamiliar places by directing you along the right path and making sure you don’t bump into things like flower pots and buildings. A seeing eye Sasquatch makes it easier for you to move around in unfamiliar places by walking through things like flower pots and buildings. It makes its own path, and all you have to do is follow along. Just be forewarned: the liability insurance can get a little steep.
Guide dogs can make it more comfortable for others to interact with the visually impaired; nothing breaks the ice like an adorable, fuzzy service animal with its tongue hanging out. The thing is, not all people with visual impairments actually want to socialize more. Enter the seeing eye Sasquatch: not only do people never try to pet it (and, by the way, don’t do that with guide dogs either, unless you have the owner’s permission), most try to get as far away as they can, quite often leaving valuables behind in their haste.
This indirectly solves another problem affecting little blind girls like me that guide dogs can only do so much about: the tendency of guys to cop a feel while pretending to guide you to your seat/the door/what you hope is the right subway train. This still happens when you’ve got a guide dog, though not as often, but when you’ve got a seeing eye Sasquatch, all the pervy strangers melt away. Unfortunately, so do any potential meet-cutes with guys who are genuinely trying to help, but you can’t have everything in life.
Guide dogs and their owners often form very strong bonds. They depend on each other and spend lots of time together, and guide dogs accept payment for their services in the form of belly rubs (I suspect that pervy strangers do, as well, but guide dogs usually smell better). The Sasquatch, on the other hand, has a reputation for being antisocial and— oh, what’s the word?— murderous. It seems like guide dogs almost have to win this category, if only because it’s so much easier to clean up after their “accidents.”
When I get my seeing eye Sasquatch, though, we’ll prove that they can be as lovable as any dog. We’ll find a field near the woods and I’ll toss a stick for him to fetch, and when he lopes back toward me proudly carrying a tree, I’ll laugh and give one of those sitcom shrugs like “What can you do?” Then I’ll throw a frisbee really high so he can jump up and catch it in his mouth, but he’ll accidentally swallow it and burp and then give me a guilty look, and I’ll just smile and shake my head, and say, “That’s my Sasquatch!”
And when he’s asleep and dreaming about chasing leprechauns (because why chase squirrels when they don’t have any gold?), I’ll stand on my tiptoes and give him a good scratch behind his ears, because dogs aren’t the only ones who like that. That’s how it’ll be when I get my seeing eye Sasquatch.
Guide dogs are great. They make life easier and more rewarding for the visually impaired, and they’re also dogs, and dogs are awesome. But this Little Blind Girl wants a seeing eye Sasquatch and will accept no substitutes. When you’ve got your heart set on having a gigantic wild creature that may or may not exist as your therapy monster, nothing else will do.
[Image is BIGFOOT Concept Art by TimWade94 on deviantart.com, license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]
You know those TV journalists on 60 Minutes and the evening news who do exposés on sweatshops and conduct interviews with people who have their faces blurred out? I have one of them in my head. She likes to turn everything in my life into a hard-hitting news story and do dramatic voiceovers at inconvenient moments (of course, for me, everyone’s faces are already blurred out, which saves some work). It can get a little silly at times. For example:
In line at the convenience store:
Cashier: I’m sorry, we’re all out of Milk Duds.
Imaginary Voiceover: And that’s when the Little Blind Girl knew that something was very wrong in Candyland.
At the mall:
Sales Associate: Would you like to try a free sample?
Imaginary Voiceover: But as the Little Blind Girl was about to learn the hard way: nothing in life is ever truly free.
Getting ready for a date:
Friend: Try the blue skirt. So where are you going?
Little Blind Girl: He wants to surprise me. I just hope he doesn’t end up taking me to the Taxidermy Circus, like the last guy did.
Imaginary Voiceover: A “good date”: does it really exist, or is it just a story we tell to make ourselves shave? The answer may surprise you!
Writing a blog:
Little Blind Girl: Crap. Where’d all my ideas go?
Imaginary Voiceover: It’s 9:00. Do you know where your ideas are?
Now you know: this is why I sometimes laugh at what appears to be nothing. Well, this, and the way I like to replace random bits of movie dialogue with the word “pie” in my head (Darth Vader: Your lack of pie disturbs me). And sometimes it’s because I just got a joke I heard two days ago. So until we meet again, gentle readers, may the pie be with you. Don’t worry; you’ll get it in a couple of days.
[Image By CBS Television (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons]
It’s not exactly true that having crappy vision means you have magic super-hearing to compensate. It’s more that you learn to listen carefully because you have to make the most of the senses you’ve got. At this point, my hearing is so sensitive that not only could I hear my cat peeing on the area rug one floor below my bedroom, it actually woke me up (true story). I was only half-asleep, but still: impressive, right?
Well, yes and no. For one thing, I had to get out of bed before dawn to clean up cat urine I could have happily not known about for another couple of hours. A bigger problem, though, is that modern social norms don’t really account for a sense of hearing that finely tuned. You know those embarrassing conversations you have in restaurants that you think are private because you’re talking quietly? I can hear them. Every word. If I could see, I wouldn’t know where to look.
It doesn’t end there, either. I can also hear what’s going on in the restaurant’s kitchen, which has ruined more than one date for me, and I can hear both sides of the conversation when you talk on your cell phone in public (most common topic, if you’re curious: how you really, really need to clean your apartment/house this weekend). It’s been an educational, voyeuristic, traumatizing experience. So, because I like you all just that much, I’m going to share with you the top ten things I wish I’d never overheard:
10. “I can’t file for divorce for another two months, so don’t tell anyone you’re pregnant yet.”
9. “He took out 27 inches of the guy’s colon, and there was no sign of a tumor in any of it.”
8. “Adult diapers are a lot more comfortable than they used to be.”
7. “I wouldn’t say she’s my girlfriend, I mean, it’s just too soon for that. She might be moving in, though.”
6. “It’s on the shelf below your grandmother’s urn.”
5. “The dry cleaner says she can’t do anything about the stain because it’s a biohazard.”
4. “It had to be your hair; you were the only one handling the spaghetti.”
3. “Yeah, I peed in his bed. I don’t understand why he’s making such a big deal about it.”
2. “Does the country of Europe have more states than we do? I can never remember.”
1. “I’ve been uncomfortable all day because the hole in my underwear is in the wrong place.”
You’re welcome! Feel free to share the things you wish you’d never overheard in the comments section. Or you can just mutter them under your breath. I’ll probably be able to hear you.
[image in public domain via pixabay.com]
Some people have said that the high point of evolution thus far is the human race, but I disagree. I think it’s shrimp. I love shrimp. I once wrote a poem about shrimp that I styled after She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron; the first line was “They swim in yummy, like Brad Pitt.” If a genie appeared before me and offered to make me live forever on the sole condition that I never eat shrimp again, I’m honestly not sure if I’d say yes or no (though this scenario is highly unlikely, as I never polish my lamps). They’re just that delicious.
My weakness for the delectable decapod crustaceans will occasionally lead me to do things I would normally never do. For instance: one night my friends and I were at a restaurant sharing a platter of coconut shrimp. Now, I love my friends. I do. They’ve made me a better person and life without them would be a joyless wasteland. But I really wanted those shrimp. They were little curls of perfection in a crispy beer batter, and I wanted them all to myself. I would love to say that I wrestled with, or at least acknowledged, this ethical conundrum, but I didn’t. Instead, I said this:
Little Blind Girl: Hey guys, I read an article the other day that called video games the most interesting and provocative artwork since Picasso went blue. What do you think?
Here’s why saying that makes me a rotten person: half of my friends think video games are the primary cause of moral decay in modern society. The other half of my friends love video games the way I love shrimp. I knew this, and I made the statement knowing that it would immediately plunge my friends into an argument so fervid and fanatical that they would lose all track of the world (and the seafood) around them. This is an excerpt from the transcript:
Friend 1: No! You did not just compare Picasso’s Guernica to Call of Duty! Picasso created an enduring portrait of devastated innocence! I’ve watched you play Call of Duty, and the only thing you do is shoot people, die, and start over again!
Friend 2: Guernica and Call of Duty both make you think about the role of the individual in the face of violence and destruction!! And Call of Duty makes you take an active role in the process!! All you can do with Guernica is stare at it!!
Friend 3: Guernica confronts us with uncomfortable truths, whether we accept them or not!!! The most uncomfortable truth a video game will confront you with is that your reaction time is sub par!!! That isn’t art!!!
Man At Next Table Over: Didn’t Warhol say that art is what you can get away with?
Friend 1: OH REALLY? WELL, I BET I CAN GET AWAY WITH STABBING THIS FORK THROUGH YOUR HAND! SOMEBODY CALL THE LOUVRE!
You’ll notice that my name doesn’t appear in the transcript. That’s because, while my friends were vehemently debating the artistic merits of Grand Theft Auto, I was eating my way through the entire platter of shrimp. I took my time; you don’t rush culinary masterpieces like that. Plus, I knew my friends would keep going for at least 20 minutes, so I savored my spoils and enjoyed the show. I finished before they did, and they were all a little surprised to find the platter empty:
Friend 1: I don’t care what you say, no video game that lets you earn “star power” has any true artistic merit. (Glances at the table) Wow, have we eaten all the shrimp already?
Little Blind Girl: Looks that way.
Friend 2: I can’t remember eating any at all. Funny how you lose track of things sometimes.
Friend 3: I don’t know about you, but I’m still hungry. Let’s order another platter.
Little Blind Girl: Really? Well, okay, if you want to. Waiter!
(For those who are curious about the title: Here’s a link to Confessions Part One.)
Why are all the songs about California? Sure, there’s the occasional Sweet Home Alabama or Midnight Train to Georgia, and plenty of people are in an Empire State of Mind, but in the final analysis of pop songs about places, California tops the topic. I got a demonstration of this the other day when I put my iPod on shuffle and, in the space of 90 minutes, it played five songs about California and not a single track about Michigan, South Dakota, or Maine.
To be fair, Michigan and South Dakota are hard to rhyme. Maine is really, really easy to rhyme, though, and when was the last time anyone whipped or nae naed to a song about Maine? (Nae nae’d? Naed nae? Do you nae nae with your bae?) Here’s a quiz to help you figure out if you think California truly deserves to win the little gold statue for Best Song Topic By A Location or whether you think it just gets all the songs because it’s pretty:
1. So what is it about California girls, anyway?
A. They’re undeniable! Daisy dukes, bikinis on top…
B. I wish they all could be California girls.
C. Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes Benz.
D. Soon as I stepped on the scene, I’m hearing hoochies screaming.
E. Spray tans and Photoshop. Nailed it!
2. How is it that, every time California is in a magazine or a movie, it looks like paradise? Isn’t there a massive drought there? And, like, a major earthquake fault line?
A. You could travel the world, but nothing comes close to the golden coast.
B. From Oakland to Sactown, the Bay Area and back down, Cali is where they put they mack down.
C. I was thinking to myself, ‘This could be Heaven or this could be Hell’
D. All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray.
E. I never thought paradise would have this many Kardashians.
3. The official state motto of California is “Eureka.” The unofficial state motto is:
A. The state where ya never find a dance floor empty.
B. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
C. Space may be the final frontier, but it’s made in a Hollywood basement.
D. We’ll melt your popsicle.
E. Sorry about all the Kardashians.
4. I’ve heard that all the nuts roll to California. Is that true?
A. Let me welcome everybody to the Wild, Wild West!
B. It’s the edge of the world and all of Western civilization.
C. Warm, wet, and wild; there must be something in the water.
D. And still those voices are calling from far away…
E. No. They roll to D.C. and stay there until it’s time to run for re-election.
5. All right, I’m sold. I’m going to California! Who’s with me?
A. Once you party with us, you’ll be falling in love.
B. Pack a vest for your Jimmy in the city of sex.
C. If I didn’t tell her, I could leave today.
D. What a nice surprise! Bring your alibis.
E. I would, but I have narcissophobia (fear of Kardashians)
Mostly A’s, B’s, C’s, or D’s: Party on, California girl! You know when to whip and when to nae nae, and you always make time to lay underneath the palm trees sipping gin and juice. Keep on living it up at the Hotel California! Just try to limit the money and alcohol fiendin’, and remember to practice safe Californication.
Mostly E’s: Congratulations! You hate politicians, Kardashians, and the culture of celebrity as much as I do. You win the quiz. You lose the internet, though; California won that a long time ago. Second place went to catz. Sorry.