As a writer, I trade upon odd and unusual characteristics.
Conventional writing wisdom says that a story’s protagonist, no matter how much of an everyday, person-in-your-neighbourhood s/he’s meant to represent, should possess some special quality – something that not only makes him/her memorable but also plays a role in motivating and ultimately resolving the story’s plot.
I mine a lot of my own life in my creation of characters – both my own characteristics and those of people I observe. I then proceed to spend months and years with these fictional people, to the point that they become like real people to me: fully-realized, self-determining, and with certain traits in common with me.
This, I suppose, has the effect of inuring me to my own oddities.
Besides, if my characters can be unusual, surely it’s normal for me to abnormal as well since I sometimes consider myself a character in my own story (albeit a story with no real internal logic, discernible plot, or predictable climax to which all events inevitably point).
I’m also an intensely purpose-driven person – one for whom there’s a rational explanation for almost all my actions, much like the actions in a story. So all my habits have reasons behind them that make perfect sense to me.
All this to say it’s been with considerable surprise and no small amount of abashment over the years that others have brought me to the attention of things I do differently than most. Five things in particular are as follows:
1) I wear my sunglasses all year round
This has nothing to do with the fact I was a Corey Hart fan in my youth (I don’t actually wear my sunglasses at night during any season).
But I do wear them outside of summer months, and why not? July and August isn’t the only time the sun shines.
To say my eyes are light-sensitive is a bit redundant (light sensitivity is the eyes’ whole raison d’être), but squinting against even the light of fall and winter puts me at risk of daily migraines (and premature crow’s feet to boot!)
As well, because my sunnies are polarized and their lenses are a mellow golden brown, they sharpen and brighten my view on an overcast or rainy day, which makes them excellent for both cycling and driving.
But I’ve been told this is unusual behaviour – that I look like I’m trying to look cool or to hide something since you can’t see my eyes.
2) I let my toast cool down before I eat it
There’s nothing worse in the world (okay, probably not the world, but still) than soggy bread. Which is exactly what happens when you take hot toast from the toaster and put it on a cold plate. Gross.
The second I finish buttering (or more often, peanut buttering) my toast (or bagels, pita, etc.), I immediately shove the knife under it to allow for air flow to prevent it sweating and sogging.
If I’m feeling particularly persnickety, or if the toast will be used for a sandwich, I’ll either lay it out on a cooling rack like a cake fresh from the oven or stand the two pieces up so they can lean against each other like a tent.
All this, so I’ve been told, is an atypical solution to an otherwise common problem – one that most people solve by just eating the toast faster.
3) I carry multiple pairs of socks in my bag
This one I’d have thought wouldn’t be strange, especially in Vancouver were it rains 9 months of the year and locals pride themselves on refusing to carry umbrellas.
The fact that all my spare sock pairs are purposely different types, though – wool knee socks I case I get cold; rayon crew socks in case I get warm; nylon foot liners in case it gets so warm, I essentially don’t want to wear socks at all – only seems to add to the strangeness of my extra provisions.
Is it my fault I don’t thermoregulate well? Geez, just wait until I’m menopausal.
4) I eat pizza with a knife and fork
Come on – how can this seriously be odd? It’s not like George Costanza and the Mars bar.
Pizza is so awkward to eat without cutlery: it’s hot; the slices are often big and floppy and greasy; there’re those strings of cheese that happen when you bite into a piece of pizza. Whose wants to deal with all that mess on your hands, and potentially down the front of your shirt!?
5) I do the same chores on the same day every week
Of the five habits in this list, this is the one I legitimately don’t understand other people not doing.
Maybe this is a result of my highly disciplined upbringing by my military father. Regardless, I’ve blogged in the past about how routines free up one’s mind to deal with other, more important considerations. Like writing, in my case, or dealing with unforeseen problems that befall me (e.g. recently discovering that everyone in my apartment building is being “renovicted”).
Studies have shown that decision fatigue is real, meaning that the greater the number of decisions one has to make in a day, the poorer in quality the later decisions become. This concept is the reason President Obama famously wears only blue or grey suits.
If I only have a handful of good decisions in me each day, I certainly don’t want to waste one on deciding what day I should vacuum the carpets (the answer to which I already know is Thursday).
What habits do you have that others find bizarre? Conversely, are there things other people do that you find strange? Let me know in the comments.
(Image source #1 and #2)
10 thoughts on “5 Habits I Didn’t Know Were Strange Until People Told Me”
I do all of the above, so I believe you’re in good company 🙂
I must just be hanging out with the wrong people!
I broke my arm and now have a plate with screws in it. My arms are thin and my family points out that I run my fingers over the screws when at the supper table when I’m deep in conversation.
Yikes, that sounds like it was a painful injury! Even more interesting than the habits we have but just presume are typical behaviour are the ones we’re not even aware that we have.
I have decision fatigue due to brain fog.
I water the plants AND the chinchilla on Sunday night, Monday night if I forget. Living things can’t get their own water.
I had to Google “chinchilla” and yes, I’m sure your furry friend appreciates you (eventually) remembering the water!
I personally don’t water my plants on a regular schedule because I’m trying to make them drought-resistant for when I travel. When I do water them, though, it’s always on the same day.
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God I’ve no idea Janna – I’ve never tried to analyse my behaviour. Maybe that’s a behavioural trait in itself? Taking your #5 I’m probably at the opposite end of the spectrum. By the nature of my work I need to be organised there but beyond that I’ve little idea of what I’ll be doing over the days ahead.
I’ve never tried to analyse my behaviour.
I laughed out loud when I read that because I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my life when I didn’t analyze my behaviour (perhaps it’s the remnants an adolescence often spent always second-guessing myself). Plus, I’ve already have all the foreseeable events of my week planned out straight through until Saturday.
# 1 – My winters involve frequent snowstorms. Sunglasses are an absolute must or you will damage your eyes driving to work.
# 2 – Get a toaster oven so you can butter your bread first and eat it the second it comes out.
# 3 – Tangential: I whimsically bought a pair of $19 socks the other day (vs.
$19 for a pack of six pairs like I usually buy). They feel like $19 socks. I don’t want to take them off.
# 4 – Thin-crust pizza holds it’s shape while you eat it. Not sloppy at all. The long string of melted cheese is part of the pizza experience, IMO.
# 5 – I don’t want to talk about housework.
#1 – I read somewhere that the sun reflecting off of snow is even more damaging since our eyes track downward far more often than upward.
#2 – A toaster oven is all I have. But the texture of pre-buttered toast is different than regular, post-buttered, and it’s not like I can pre-peanut butter my toast. Life is so complicated (sigh).
#3 – You can totally feel the difference with $19 socks. Next, try merino wool socks: they’re warm, non-itchy, breathable, and moisture-wicking. And cost about $19.
#4 – I also read that the most common cause of choking is burning hot pizza cheese solidified in the throat by cold beer.
#5 – I won’t make you; someone else has to live with you.