Recently a friend of mine (and one of the founders of this fine site) and his girlfriend stayed over my apartment. It was one of the first times since I’d moved in that someone other than myself had used my shower. When I stumbled into the bathroom in the half conscious daze I spend the first few hours of every day in, I found the room… wrong. Things weren’t right. The shower curtain was all bunched up in the middle. Towels were askew. The bath mat was moved over. Later in the day, because I am a borderline autistic misfit, I sat trying to figure out some way that the bathroom could have been left in that configuration. Finally, we had this conversation.
Me: Hey, did you, like, open the curtain on the faucet side, fiddle with the water, then get in the shower this morning?
Him: Uh, yeah… How else would I have done things?
Me: I get in the opposite end, close the curtain, tweak the temperature with the tub faucet, then turn on the shower.
Him: I would never have conceived of doing something like that.
Me: I would never have conceived of doing it otherwise.
And so I discovered the topic of today’s stupid writing thing. There are some things that we aren’t necessarily taught. We all do them, but somehow or another we end up primarily teaching OURSELVES to do them. Since everything else in our life was taught to us as either the only way, or one of several ways that we are also aware of, we tend to just assume that since we don’t know of any other ways to do this, it must be the way everyone does it. Eventually we find someone who does it differently, and our world is shattered. Due to its personal nature, and the fact that these days if an adult and a child are naked in the same place at the same time the SWAT team shows up and lives are ruined, hygiene has a lot of these. Personally, the entirety of my hygienic training consisted of me being thrown in the bathroom with soap and told, ?You better be clean when you get out.? I left the bathroom three hours later with sore skin, a healthy respect for our hot water heater, and the hard earned knowledge that you have to turn both knobs if you want to make it out of the shower un-blistered. But that’s just me. I’m special. Regardless, it is time we shed a little light on this phenomenon.
First off, butt wiping. How do you do it? Do you wad, fold, or wrap? Me? Well, it really depends upon the consistency of the preceding dump. Generally, and especially when the residue is particularly tenacious, I wad. I feel it has a better scouring effect. A loose deuce gets a fold. Wider surface blots more efficiently. If it was a catastrophe I wrap. Anything to protect my fingers, really. While we are on the subject, do you look at the paper after? I do. Gotta see when you’re done, right? Also, front to back or back to front? I, like Kevin Smith, am a back to front wiper myself, though perpetually stinky balls and the advice of medical professionals have got me second guessing that policy.
Let’s move away from the scatological now. There is a popular phrase, ?We all put our pants on one leg at a time.? I always thought that was stupid phrase because I, for one, didn’t put my pants on one leg at a time. When I was a kid I would scrunch my pants up on the floor, step in, and pull them up. BOTH legs at once. It has been pointed out that I must have stepped in with one foot at a time. This is true. Obviously I didn’t leap into my pants. But that’s one foot at a time, not one leg at a time. I won’t get started on whether or not a foot counts as a leg. That’s a discussion for another time. I will, however, state that if you think a foot counts as a leg, you live in a strange and frightening world and we would be justified for mocking you relentlessly. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum. Putting on shirts. Head then arms, or arms then head? I go head first, all the way. That’s just how I roll, baby.
Here’s a modern one. How do you hold the controller when you play a console game? Do you hold it with your other fingers dangling underneath and hit the face buttons with your thumbs? Or do you use you hold it with one hand on the directionals and hit the buttons with your finger tips? I’m not talking about special situations when you have to hammer the buttons like a lunatic… lousy Mario Party… I mean in general. I suppose this is more for the old school gamers, though. The advent of shoulder buttons and twin d-pads tend to force you into the ?fingers behind, thumbs in front? grip, or, as I call it, ?the strangler.?
Now for a classic. Look at your fingernails. Right now, do it… Are you done? Great. How did you look at them? Did you hold your hand up flat, or curl your fingers over? I’m a hold up flat guy. It was a popular rumor when I was a kid that only girls look at their fingernails with their fingers curled over, so if someone told you to check your nails and you did it wrong, prepare for the gay jokes.
Finally, let’s look at some regional variations. Technically these things are taught, but they are taught in a more casual context, and I feel like talking about them here, so LAY OFF! ? Where was I? Oh, right. You know eenie meenie miny moe? What is the next line? For me it is ?Catch a piggy by the toe.? Yes I know that is stupid, since piggies don’t have toes, but lets not split hairs. The popular alternative is ?tiger by the toe.? What about when you have to count seconds? One chimanpzee, two chimpanzee? One Mississippi, two mississippi? I recently heard that the day before Halloween, which I ?Mischief Night? is called ?Hell Night? elsewhere. Couple this with the ?Stick of Butter/Brick of Butter? ?Shopping Cart/Buggy? and ?Soda/Pop? variations, and it starts to look like we aren’t so much a country as a loosely connected collection of tribes with our own customs and language. Neat.
How many other things are unthinkably or inexplicably done differently by others? Am I using an approved method to blow my nose? Do I sleep wrong? Is it just possible that putting the mustard on the bread when I make a sandwich renders me a societal outcast? These are all fine questions. Normally I would appeal to you, my loyal reader, to reply with some additional fodder for exploration, but lets be realistic. That’s not going to happen. So don’t! Don’t reply with ideas! Don’t sign up and chat on our forums! Don’t fall for reverse psychology!