Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Things We Do

I was going up some stairs at work the other day when the toe of my sandal caught the edge of the next step. Luckily I didn’t fall, but I did execute a particularly ungainly stumble, snatch and grab of the railing before regaining my balance. Afterwards, even though I knew what caused me to misstep, I looked behind me to see what I had tripped over (nothing) – and if anyone had witnessed my fall from grace. (Fortunately, no.)

That need to check when we do something clumsy is just one of any number of odd behaviors that appear to be universal to us humans.

There’s another I call the “baby and mascara mystery.”  For some reason, women unconsciously let their mouths gape open when they are spoon feeding a baby or applying mascara. The first time I caught myself doing this was years ago and initially I thought it was an aberration unique to me – but then I noticed my daughters doing the same thing when they applied their mascara or fed their babies. Although relieved to know I was not the world’s solitary mouth-gaping mommy, I was now concerned it was a genetic flaw passed down through our family. This caused me to pay attention whenever I was in a position to observe other women feeding babies or applying mascara. More often than not, I am happy to report they do the same thing. Whew, I feel better!

Another behavior I’ve noticed happens when we are behind the wheel of a car and do something stupid like take off when the green arrow comes on - only we are not in the left-turn lane, or start through a four-way stop before it is actually our turn then have to slam on the brakes and let the correct car proceed through. In these instances, we are stuck in the presence of other drivers who no doubt saw what we did, and the resulting self consciousness causes us to feel a little itch somewhere, usually on the head, that we just have to scratch. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true! Pay attention the next time you do something like this and see if you don’t experience this phenomenon. And when you see another driver do the same sort of thing, watch them. I’ll bet they scratch too!

It’s interesting how as a whole, we can be so very different from one another and yet still be so alike. For instance, how many of these behaviors do you share with me?

Pressing harder and harder on the remote when it’s pretty clear the batteries are dead.
Passing a mirror or plate glass window and just having to glance at your reflection.
Mistyping your password and deleting the whole thing, instead of just the character you got wrong.
Rocking out in front of the mirror when you are absolutely sure you are home alone.
Checking the fridge over and over when you’re hungry as if the items in it may have changed since you last checked.
Avoiding eye contact with the driver sitting next to you at the stop light.
Changing the toilet paper roll from “under” to “over” in the restroom at work.
Purposely avoiding the cracks when you walk on a sidewalk.

It makes me smile to know that despite the vast differences in us humans based on where we were raised, by who, the color of our skin, what level of education we have and the myriad of other factors that make us unique, there is a common uniting thread running through our humanity that humbles us, unites us and ensures we stay a family.

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