No, not really. In fact, I’m probably the least observant motherscratcher you’re ever going to meet or even hear about. I couldn’t tell you what color my own shoes are right now without looking down at them, and speaking of that, all my socks are black. Every single one of them. It’s a system I designed long ago to address the fact that my socks never matched and I never seemed to notice.
When writers are portrayed in movies and television shows, they are frequently depicted as Holmesian Super Observers, like Jessica Fletcher. Actually you know what, I can’t think of that many other writers portrayed as Super Observers, I guess I should have thought this through a little more carefully before I started typing.
There was Dean Stockwell’s character in The Langoliers, he was a Super Observer. He’s the one who figured out that the plane they’d landed in was more real than the airport. But you know, a show from twenty-five years ago and a TV movie that nobody saw, that’s not exactly a compelling majority, is it?
Well, screw it, I already typed the title. And you know, I already did a post about all the things wrong with my face, so why not one about the various ways in which I am a moron?
For example, here’s a pretty faithfully transcribed conversation between my daughter and myself, from about a year ago:
Ellen: Hi Daddy!
Me (walking in the front door): Why hello there, darling.
Ellen (blinking at me): …
Me: Something I can do for you there, Cupcaker?
Ellen: You don’t notice anything different about me?
Me (squinting over the mail at her): What’d you get braces or something?
Ellen (folding arms): …
Me: A tattoo or a piercing or something?
Ellen: I’m eleven.
Me: Can you go ahead and bottom line it for me? I’m trying to get on the couch and watch a dinosaur movie here.
Ellen: Dad, I got a foot of hair cut off.
Ellen: And it’s a whole different color.
Ellen: Curled it a little bit, too.
Me: Well it looks fantastic.
Personally, I think it’s because I’m not so hung up on appearances, you know? I see the beauty on the inside, man.
Have you ever heard of the psychology experiment where they show you a tape of a basketball game and ask you to remember as many details as you can about it, so you’re sitting there trying to count how many times they shoot, what everybody’s number is, etc. And then halfway through the game, a guy in a gorilla suit goes walking right across the court, and a significant majority of people do not notice him at all.
Something about concentrating too much on other things, so you block out the gorilla. Didn’t work on me, though – I forgot I was in a psychology experiment and wandered off, got a hot dog and sat under a tree smiling at the sky. That’s cause I’m so smart, see.
One time I was conducting a real estate closing – you heard me – in Cincinnati, and I went into the conference room and sat down at a large table and people started coming in, the buyers, the sellers, their agents, a loan officer, a jittery old lady who needed everybody to accept something to drink or she wouldn’t go back to her desk. The usual crowd.
And while we were going through the closing documents, I kept catching snippets of conversation from one side of the table or another, snippets in which birds were mentioned.
Well, only one or two people sign things at a time in a closing, so it’s normal for the rest of them to shoot the breeze a little while they’re waiting, but then I started hearing bird song. I realized that it had been going on non-stop, like an air conditioner that you don’t notice even though it’s loud.
Weird, I thought, since it was seven o’clock at night in January.
Then someone mentioned birds again, gesturing behind me, and so I turned around and was startled to find that the entire wall behind me was an enormous bird sanctuary encased in glass. There were little trees and wreaths and a waterfall inside it, and about thirty chirping parakeets and whatnot.
I mean, I came into the room when it was empty, from a door on the opposite side of the room from this thing. Nothing.
So then a room full of total strangers was suddenly sitting there laughing at me – again.
I like to think of it as a defense mechanism – remember the peril-sensitive sunglasses from The Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy? They became opaque when danger was around, so you wouldn’t have to see whatever was so scary and dangerous.
That’s me. The fewer things that you notice, the fewer things you have to worry about.
But it’s a trade-off. If anyone’s ever murdered on the train I’m riding, for example, well, they’re probably going to get away with it – don’t look at me.