“raised by wolves,” “should have failed kindergarten”
August 9, 2019 5:04 AM   Subscribe

 
I totally can't hook my bra behind my back, and wouldn't know it counts as a basic-ass life skill until this article. Why would you try doing that??

No idea how I would even go about snapping my fingers.

I don't know how many weeks there are in a year, or what week it is now. This might sound irrelevant, but for whatever reason many people in Sweden insist on using week numbers in everyday communication. Those people are unreasonable. Fortunately there's a website for that, appropriately named "week now".
posted by Vesihiisi at 5:17 AM on August 9 [22 favorites]


I have to look at the letters on a keyboard while typing. I can look up, but then I slow down dramatically. I hunt and peck but type fast enough.

I hate round clocks. It took me a long time to learn to read them and I remember getting a toy called Answer Clock. It is an owl with a clock on its stomach. You turn the hands around, guessed the time and then press a foot to open its eyes, which shows you the time.
posted by soelo at 5:32 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Tying a necktie. I'm 39 years old. I mean, I can trial and error it with a guide and a mirror and a lot of time into something tolerable, but I couldn't tie the simplest of knots without looking it up. The one or two ties I end up using about once every 2-3 years are stored pre-tied and they seem to hold up just fine. If I needed to wear them more often, I might go through the trouble and learn it, but right now I can't be bothered.
posted by jklaiho at 5:38 AM on August 9 [17 favorites]


Back in the day, nearly half my 8th-grade algebra class failed the section of the end-of-year state standards test on reading analog clocks (why this was part of the junior high exit exam is anyone's guess) and had to study for and retake it. This was the gifted group who otherwise aced every exam, but digital clocks were already common enough that it was becoming a deprecated skill.
posted by Flannery Culp at 5:40 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


I have never:

Applied for a job
Gone on a date
Driven a car


I also can’t do math in my head and do most everyday math via rote memorization.
posted by The Whelk at 5:42 AM on August 9 [13 favorites]


Well, my 7-year-old seems to be well on his way to being a grownass adult who can't tie his shoes.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:44 AM on August 9 [34 favorites]


I can’t ride a bike. It turns out this means I also can’t ride an electric scooter, which for some reason I did not expect.
posted by snowmentality at 5:45 AM on August 9 [11 favorites]


The combination lock one is weirdly America-biased. Lockers with keys all the way!
posted by scruss at 5:46 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Tying a necktie

I straight-up forgot how to do this once. I had not worn one in a few years, and I was getting dressed to go out to a nice restaurant and thought I should wear one. I had to look it up on Youtube.
posted by thelonius at 5:46 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Swimming.

I can float about and slowly motivate myself around, but actually swim? You know...get horizontal, kick with your legs, do whatever it is you do with your arms? Nope. Trying to do that is a quick way to drown myself.

Also: Any math above basic multiplication and division. Got a big block about all that. Barely got out of remedial high school algebra with a D. Never took another math class again. I avoid having to do any kind of math in my head. Nope, nope, nope. I won't even keep score playing euchre, that's how afraid I am of math.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:47 AM on August 9 [11 favorites]


The one that came to mind before looking at the thread was hooking my bra behind my back. I've always felt like I was the only adult woman in the world who couldn't do it. But apparently there are at least a couple of others. Just now my teenage daughter laughed at me and said she was sure she could do it easily, even though none of her bras have hooks in the back so she's never practiced. So I handed her one of my bras and she reached around and did it instantly. She said, "It practically fastens itself." Then I tried it, thinking maybe I had just been assuming it was harder than it really is. And a couple of minutes later, I gave up in frustration. I'm sure that's what's happened every other time I've tried it. I undoubtedly could manage it if I kept trying, but who wants to spend 5 minutes trying to fasten a damn bra without looking when there's another method?
posted by Redstart at 5:47 AM on August 9 [18 favorites]


People actually hook bras behind their backs in real life (not just the movies)? I've never seen it as an enviable skill, I just hook mine in the front and then pull it around.

(Didn't see your comment until I hit post, redstart).
posted by bunderful at 5:48 AM on August 9 [15 favorites]


I can't whistle. And I couldn't blow my nose until I was 14.
posted by Catseye at 5:51 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Puttung clothes onto hangers.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 5:56 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I still can't whistle, can't really swim, and never was able to blow up a balloon (I have shit lung capacity now, so I don't even try).
posted by dinty_moore at 5:56 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Adults seem to get out of the habit of learning kinesthetic skills, at least some do. I’ve done a bunch of things in the last twenty years that involve some component of this kind of thing: flying, glass blowing, wheel-throwing pottery, knife sharpening—and while I am mediocre at all of them, I’ve found that if you just bumble along and keep at it, suddenly your body “gets it,” and instead of consciously doing the thing badly you are unconsciously doing it a lot better. I wish I’d understood before helping teach my kids to drive.

It has given me an appreciation for how hard it is for people to learn stuff as adults, and has led to the probably-simplistic insight that the most important “skill” needed to pick up new abilities is the determination to keep trying, even if you are sure you look ridiculous.

Or alternately, deciding that you don’t give a rat’s ass about not being able to tie your surgical gown in back, or whatever. Speaking of which, I was 55 before I realized that I didn’t have to waste time buttoning my shirt in the morning if I just took it off over my head and washed it that way.

I am impressed with folks who truly can’t learn something and find a workaround for it. That is also a life skill, and one they’ll be happy to have as they get older and their abilities change.

The skill I’m working on currently, and probably will never master: latte art. Just. Can’t. Do. It.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 6:00 AM on August 9 [33 favorites]


The combination lock one is weirdly America-biased. Lockers with keys all the way!

Government security rules require the use of these electromechanical X-10/X-11 combination locks which are a huge pain in the ass. They're powered by the user spinning the dial, so if you don't do that enough before putting the combo in it dies. If you wait too long before entering the next number, it dies. It has a sensor to determine which direction the dial is turning, so if you overshoot your number and go back slowly enough it'll let you do that, but if you go too fast it'll die. Once you put in all the digits, you have to spin the lock another 1/2 turn or so to actually engage the mechanism, but if you do that too fast it thinks you're trying to put in another number and it'll die. Try all of this too many times and it'll actually lock you out of trying the combination again.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:00 AM on August 9 [21 favorites]


Driving for sure. Swimming too.

Basically I'm totally useless in any post apocalyptic scenario.

Or camping.

Or just walking around town.

But I can blow up a fucking balloon so I'm buying myself cake.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:01 AM on August 9 [15 favorites]


Tying a necktie

I'm pretty sure I could still tie the knot from muscle memory, but it has been more than 20 years since I wore (or even owned) a tie so if push came to shove I might end up stumped. I think there is a decent chance that I might never need to wear one ever again, though, so I'm ok letting this stay theoretical.

The only missing lifeskill that impacts my life is handwriting. I just never learned how to write legibly, to the point that I often struggle to read my own writing, never mind someone else trying to read it.

An unimportant lifeskill that I wish I could learn is how to whistle really loudly. I've looked at guides and videos online and people have tried to teach me, but somehow I just can't make those piercing whistles.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:01 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


I am unable to blow a bubble with bubble gum. I will carry that shame with me to the grave, it just isn't happening.

I also have a natural aversion to diving into a pool. It ends up being a belly flop no matter what. If I were hoisted by my feet above a pool and dropped straight down, somehow I'd end up turning 90 degrees.
posted by splen at 6:02 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


An unimportant lifeskill that I wish I could learn is how to whistle really loudly.

Yeah, the article says they don't want to hear about whistling with your fingers in your mouth, but I have never been able to do that and have always wanted to. I can't blow bubblegum bubbles either.

soren lorenson -- I was 10 or 11 before I learned how to tie my shoes, so don't give up on your kid yet!
posted by briank at 6:07 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Always mess up right and left when I'm giving directions in a car. I just fucking point these days: "Go that way."
posted by jscalzi at 6:08 AM on August 9 [18 favorites]


Things that friends and acquaintances can do that I can not / do not know how to (hard to say if these are "basic" life skills) and I sort of envy:
- whistle
- use chopsticks properly (according to the instructions in the sleeve)
- spin pens
- crack an egg one-handed
- snot rockets
- throw a punch
- drive stick
- sing in key
- know which colors go together when dressing oneself

The being bad at directions/orientation thing, I feel, is genetic or somehow physiological, like color-blindness. I used to think it was a skill that one could learn, and it used to be an early form of frustration between my wife as I struggled to help her with directions, but then seeing how her brother had the same struggle despite his wife's efforts to help, and then seeing her mom have to re-explain directions to the doctor's office to her dad, who had been going to that doctor for years, I feel that navigation is a skill that you can develop provided your brain is capable of spatial orientation, but if your brain is hindered in that area, there's only so much you can do.
posted by bl1nk at 6:08 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Aim. I can't aim, I can't even understand how to aim. I spent some time with a pool table recently, and I realized that I just don't get what I'm supposed to be doing. I can throw darts and usually hit the board, but that's only because I've done it enough (with my own specific darts) that I know how my arm is supposed to feel. I close one eye and the board is in a whole different place.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:08 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


There are at least a half-dozen low-confidence spots in my brain's multiplication tables. When I need to know 6x8, for example, I think I might know the answer, but I have to check it anyway because I am not confident enough to go with my instinct and risk getting the answer wrong. So I have checked 6x8 probably at least 48 (i just checked that) times in my life and yet failed to learn it with 100 percent confidence.

I guess it's something like having certain words you are never sure how to spell, so you check the dictionary but fail to learn the spelling.
posted by pracowity at 6:12 AM on August 9 [11 favorites]


The first comment about getting disoriented on grids is completely true for me. On the other hand, I've navigated Pittsburgh by just having a vague sense of where I should be heading after missing my turn. I was proud of that one. I blame it on learning to drive in Boston. Gridded streets are an abomination against all natural order. (I live (well, used to and will again in a month) in NYC, lived in Portland, OR for 6 years and have lived for a year in Kyoto, which is also gridded. I am cursed this way.)

I also can't whistle without an acorn cap. With an acorn cap, I can make ears bleed.
posted by Hactar at 6:12 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


I also can't whistle. I can blow up a balloon, but can't get the knot tied, so it's pretty useless. I can't hook a bra behind my back, but can get one off within 2 seconds of walking in the door.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:12 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


Whistling.

Snapping my fingers.

Bubblegum.

FUCKING Magic Eye pictures.
posted by kyrademon at 6:12 AM on August 9 [14 favorites]


soelo: I have to look at the letters on a keyboard while typing.

I felt better about typing this way when someone classed this up by calling it the Columbus Method: "find it and land on it."
posted by wenestvedt at 6:13 AM on August 9 [12 favorites]


Scrunching a bra around your torso hurts. The trick for fastening a bra behind your back is where you put your thumbs on the fasteners. Put each thumb centered on and just touching the metal parts. Then when you reach behind, touch your thumbs. The parts will be very close to each other. Focus on one, then the other will follow. (Apologies if you've already been told this twenty times in twenty different ways.)
posted by hypnogogue at 6:13 AM on August 9 [12 favorites]


Back when I wore bras I used to fasten it first and then pull it over my head like a t-shirt. I also grew up without any makeup role models and never learnt to do it properly. Stuff like this is a non-trivial part of why I now identify as non-binary - shedding the cumulative weight of the shame and pain of perpetually failing at performative femininity was such a huge relief.

I can't clean my house for shit, I have basically no idea how to tackle a mess if I can't wipe it clean with a damp piece of kitchen towel. I had a parent who was so angry and controlling about the house I grew up in being spotlessly clean at all times that I never got the chance to learn to clean; I was never allowed to "try" cleaning stuff because my dad insisted I'd do a bad job and he'd have to re-do it himself afterwards and he might as well just do it right the first time, which is why I'm now a 30yo self-fulfilling prophecy who can't clean a damn thing. Between my partner and me we keep the house livable (he has more cleaning skills but worse executive function than I do so it kind of evens out) - it's dirtier and more cluttered than the house I grew up in, and I constantly have a sense of being inherently disgusting and letting something down somewhere for not being able to keep my house like a showhome like my asshole dad did, but it's basically sanitary. I just wish I could jettison the guilt and the vague feeling like I wasn't raised to live this way and get used to the idea that this is the best I can do right now and it's entirely adequate.
posted by terretu at 6:13 AM on August 9 [21 favorites]


I promise you all, any of you can learn how to hook your bra behind your back if you ever feel motivated to learn. I believe in you.
posted by sallybrown at 6:14 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


Applying eyeliner, on the other hand...
posted by sallybrown at 6:15 AM on August 9 [25 favorites]


I didn't know how to burp until my early 20s. Then, a week after moving into a new place a friendly neighbor lady I had just met came by and we sat on the back porch with a 2 liter of ginger ale until that situation was fixed.

The trick for me was drinking straight out of the 2 liter and getting a lot of air/gasses in there between gulps. Also, I have no recollection how "I cannot burp" came up with this woman I had known for, like, 3 days. But 20 years on I still think of her fondly. Thanks, Christy!
posted by Ennis Tennyone at 6:16 AM on August 9 [41 favorites]


I can't water ski. This may sound like one of those things where your knee jerk response is to say that many people have never water-skied. Oh, I've tried.

I grew up in a very outdoor oriented family that owned a lake cabin and a boat. I was a boy scout. I've had friends with boats much of life. I have tried to learn on perhaps a dozen occasions. I have made in excess of one hundred individual attempts to get up on skis. And still, I water ski exactly as well as a mannequin. As soon as the boat reaches any kind of speed, I am straight down onto my face.

And I can totally snow ski. Not sure what the deal is.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:16 AM on August 9 [13 favorites]


FUCKING Magic Eye pictures

I never tried to see one of those for more than about 30 seconds. It was bizarre how people felt like they had some kind of obligation to keep trying.
posted by thelonius at 6:17 AM on August 9 [21 favorites]


FUCKING Magic Eye pictures

Same. I have actually decided those aren't real.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:17 AM on August 9 [45 favorites]


I can't tie a necktie without looking it up, and even then. I wear a necktie maybe once every two or three years, though, so it's not something I'm confronted with a lot.

I'm also terrible at estimating volume. When I put away leftovers after dinner it's always either too much food in a tiny container or a tiny amount of food in a giant container. I'm fine with area and linear distance, but volume just confounds me.

I'm also not very good with filling out forms, but they tend to be poorly-written/poorly-designed and I wind up overthinking them. I can get through it, but it takes me longer than it takes most people. Which is absurd to me, because I'm quite good at navigating other kinds of red tape.

That seems to be a lot of it for me, though; not so much that I can't do the things at all, just that I'm not good at them (whistling, for instance; I can whistle, just not very well).
posted by Fish Sauce at 6:19 AM on August 9 [8 favorites]


I promise you all, any of you can learn how to hook your bra behind your back if you ever feel motivated to learn. I believe in you.

But... why? Is it an objectively better way?
posted by Vesihiisi at 6:24 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


Same. I have actually decided those aren't real.

I've had mild-to-moderate esotropia most of my life and my depth perception and binocular vision is good enough to, like, drive and exist and stuff, but it is 100% not good enough to know what to do with those fucking pictures.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:25 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


Some of these, I wonder if there's some very specific neurological deficit involved, like not being able to tell your left from your right. I mean, your hands look different--they are mirror images, but they are not the same.

I used to have a bunch of these, but a lot of it was just a matter of practice and persistence. I didn't drive until I was 22, a combination of being undercut by a legal guardian who hadn't learned until he was 25 and resented me picking it up earlier, and general lack of self-confidence. When I did learn to drive, it was on a stick from someone who wasn't a very good teacher and quit before I could take my test; I ended up taking my test when I absolutely had to have a driver license for a job and it was a matter of "show your DL this afternoon or you're fired." I thought I would be fired, but I passed the test on the second try. I couldn't water ski either, the one time I tried, even though my cousins were very patient in trying to teach me. Generally, I don't pick up motor skills easily. I can snap my right fingers, but not my left. Can't do the two-finger whistle.

One of the things that might be mitigating "I can't do X" quite a lot are the plethora of instructional videos and other things online that can be accessed virtually anywhere. I didn't know how to make a decent hard-boiled egg until I saw this page from Serious Eats and now I make them all the time like it ain't no thang. It reminds me of the Star Trek episode "Spock's Brain" with the alien civilization that could download knowledge and skills, up to and including reconnecting the aforementioned brain, within seconds, although the knowledge didn't last.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:26 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I couldn't whistle or snap my fingers until I was 28 or so. For whatever reason that year I just decided that I was going to keep trying until I could do it and eventually I could. My wife would give me tips and I'm not sure if she was amused or annoyed by the whole thing. When I was a teenager I taught myself how to raise my right eyebrow (I could already do my left naturally) and that's given me the confidence to believe I could do any of these other things with a bit of practice. I still can't blow bubblegum but I rarely chew the stuff so I don't get much opportunity to practice.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:28 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I learned this year that I've been tying my shoes wrong for the last 40ish years. It matters which way you wrap the loop. The wrong way and your shoe laces eventually come untied, but the right way and they never do.
posted by xmattxfx at 6:30 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


esotropia

What a great word! I had this as a kid (still occasionally today under stress or sleep deprivation) and also grew up nearsighted in one eye, farsighted in the other. I can't see Magic Eye pictures or 3D movies* and have been known to mispour or mispipet liquids unless the spout/tip is touching the receiving vessel. Learning to drive took years.

*there was a brief glorious period involving polarized lenses that was OMG AMAZING I GET IT NOW but that technology seems to have been superseded by something that once again requires binocular vision
posted by Flannery Culp at 6:32 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Never learned to do makeup, and at this point I don't want to be an adult woman who looks like a 12-year-old did her makeup for however long it will take to learn. Anyway, I still have the sensory issues that made me not want to learn in the first place.

Also, I'm pretty sure Magic Eye pictures are a prank being played on society. And I can't whistle.
posted by nonasuch at 6:32 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


Yeah, "riding a bike" for me too. I'm 38, it's pretty embarrassing.
posted by penduluum at 6:34 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Can’t braid my own hair. Not sure if that’s a hard or easy skill but can’t do it.
posted by The Toad at 6:34 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


But... why? Is it an objectively better way?

I’m not sure there’s an objectively better way to put on underwear, but once I learned how to hook a bra behind my back I never went back to doing it a different way. It’s just simpler.
posted by sallybrown at 6:35 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Also, I'm pretty sure Magic Eye pictures are a prank being played on society.

I once fleetingly succeeded in seeing the 3D thingy in one, but not before or since. One could be forgiven for believing it's a plot by Big Pharma to give people headaches so they buy more aspirin or ibuprofen.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:35 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty shit at folding clothes, which is perpetually bothersome, in that I very much don't want to be. Yet somehow whenever I see a tutorial or whatever my lines come out terrible compared to theirs, and it's a mess.

Someday I'll stop sucking at this, by god.
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 6:38 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I am pretty much shit at fishing. I started learning last year and caught exactly zero fish. This spring I caught a single trout, but I think that was a fluke (har har). Part of this is, I think, not understand how to identify good places to go, but I've tried going to popular spots at the right time of day and it just seems like the fish know I'm coming and swim away.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:39 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


I cannot whistle.
I cannot drive (safely, anyways).
I have never won a fistfight (attempted only against reasonably matched provocateurs!)
I have never won a chess match (see above).
posted by Chitownfats at 6:40 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I can’t raise one eyebrow. It’s either both or neither.
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:44 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


Back when I was studying physics, when I needed to tell left from right I could get a bit of a boost by thinking about which hand I would use for the vector cross product rule. Since I don't find myself needing that rule as much, I no longer have that aid, and apparently asking myself "which hand do you use for writing, and you know, everything else that you do" just doesn't cut it. Left and right (and incidentally East and West) as labels are just going to forever be something that requires some amount of thought for me to work out.
posted by biogeo at 6:50 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Chewing. Gum. Can't do it. I bite my cheek. Every damn time. Also a master of hunt & peck. Spitting, took me years to figure out you just blow. Tying my shoes, I can do it, but I hear it's entertaining to watch, I use elastic now.
posted by evilDoug at 6:50 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Back in the day, nearly half my 8th-grade algebra class failed the section of the end-of-year state standards test on reading analog clocks (why this was part of the junior high exit exam is anyone's guess) and had to study for and retake it. This was the gifted group who otherwise aced every exam, but digital clocks were already common enough that it was becoming a deprecated skill.

WHAT
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:52 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Doesn't your left hand form an L when you hold it up?
posted by wittgenstein at 6:53 AM on August 9 [13 favorites]


To this day I still struggle with East and West, I always get them but I have to think about it for a second before I commit to an answer. I blame a mnemonic device I learned as a kid (Never Eat Sour Worms). Even though I know North, East, South, West I still think in terms of the mnemonic device and have to translate.
posted by cloeburner at 6:55 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Yeah but so does my right.
posted by notyou at 6:56 AM on August 9 [11 favorites]


Doesn't your left hand form an L when you hold it up?

Which... Ok, so that works in German too (links/rechts), but totally fails in Spanish (izquierda/derecha). Is there a handy bodily hint that Spanish speakers grow up learning?
posted by Kyol at 6:57 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Throwing a baseball. Doing any kind of arithmetic beyond single-digit numbers in my head.
posted by Rykey at 6:58 AM on August 9


Doesn't your left hand form an L when you hold it up?

Internal dialogue from myself until mid teens at least:

"Shit, they said left side of the shelf, which side is that again? Ok, let me do the hand-holding-up-L thing. Ok, this hand right here is the 'L' shape. That's left! ...or wait, was the trick actually that it was the opposite side of the hand that is shaped like an 'L'? Fuck fuck, I'm no better off now than when I started. Wait! Maybe I should look at my hand with the palm facing me! Shit, now the other hand makes an 'L' shape. Blah!!!"

And don't get me started on how it took far too long for me to realize that the reason I thought "Righty->Tighty, Lefty->Loosey" was bullshit was that I wasn't considering the top part of the fastener/valve in question.

Also, I can't tie a bowline to save my life. Other knots, no problem. Necktie, easy peasy. More complex knots even. Bowline, nope, maybe one day.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:58 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


I am incapable of hearing the difference between the words “bin”, “Ben” and “been”. Apparently I pronounce all three as “bin”, although I have to take the word of others about this. Similarly “pen” and “pin”.

People have suggested that maybe it has something to do with how these words were pronounced in the home where I grew up but no one else in my family has this ridiculously minor affliction. It seems to just be a very small auditory processing issue.

It hasn’t caused me much trouble, but one of my exes did waste about 45 minutes of her life trying to train me to say “been” properly.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 6:59 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I can't do the riffle/table riffle/blackjack shuffle with cards to save my soul. I can only do the sloppy, card-wrecking overhand shuffle.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:59 AM on August 9 [8 favorites]


Every party I've thrown in the last 20+ years is about "bringing people together from all my friend groups." Once in awhile, people meet up individually but I can't build a single group of close friends to save myself.
posted by bendy at 6:59 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Remembering what year such and such happened.

Plus, obligatory: Basic ass-life skill.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:59 AM on August 9 [8 favorites]


As far as I can remember I've "always" known how to tie a bowtie or necktie (favorite knots = Victoria, Old Bertie, Half/Full Windsor) and eat with chopsticks, both of which are things that seem to give people trouble.

I still can't touch-type properly, although my fingers seem to know where all the keys are.

One thing I learned as an adult is that I completely changed my handwriting. For many decades my handwriting was a barely legible all-caps scrawl and I held the pen with a peculiar quadrupod grip. I'd always liked and used fountain pens, but I started becoming interested in flat nibs (stubs and italics) that provide natural variation in line thickness. And one day I just decided I wanted to have good-looking handwriting. So I read a few pages and watched a few videos on the principles of italic hand, changed to the standard tripod grip, and just... changed my handwriting. It wasn't that I sat down and did exercises or anything. I simply started writing a new way and made a few changes here and there if I didn't like the looks of what I was doing. My handwriting is far from perfect as calligraphy (which it isn't intended to be) but people now think I have beautiful handwriting and they save my notes and letters. One side effect is that I have now spent an unconscionable amount of money on fancy fountain pens. And my cursive still looks like it was written by a 10 year old, which is right around the age I stopped writing in cursive.
posted by slkinsey at 7:00 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


For me it was learning that there's a right way and a wrong way to tie my shoes, and it's maybe 50/50 at best, and the wrong way will come undone within a block or two. (If the bows lie across your show it's OK, if they're up and down the tongue it isn't, and it's just a orientation issue and I never ever tie my shoes the same way twice, I guess...)

I learned this in my late 30s. Woo!
posted by Kyol at 7:01 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


When more and more businesses are popping up whose sole purpose is to monetize the lazy, there will be a lot of basic-ass skills that will become more and more rare.

Cooking is the one that immediately comes to mind. It's not that hard.
posted by prepmonkey at 7:01 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I can't write cursive anymore. It's pretty much all gone except for my signature - which is mostly illegible. About three letters into my last name, it just gives up and turns into a big slash across the page.
posted by Naberius at 7:06 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


I learned to ride a bike in my mid-30s. It's possible, but terrifying. When you learn as a kid you don't have a sense of mortality, and as an adult I'm always extremely aware of how one wrong move could literally kill me. But it gets easier.

I never learned about makeup or complicated hair things. How do people braid their own hair? It's a mystery.
posted by something something at 7:07 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


This thread is making me feel a lot better about being an adult, and a parent ;)

soelo: I have to look at the letters on a keyboard while typing.

Typing Club is an online typing tutorial website I recently found for a friend. I tried it out, and I realize I'm pretty good typing what I'm thinking, but bad at typing the same few letters over and over, because it shifts me from muscle memory to actively thinking about where the keys are. Still, seems like a decent resource, and I'd love to hear about more for my friend.

I wish I was that good at ten-key. I got my wife a USB ten-key pad because she had a laptop that didn't have one, and she was waaay faster on the ten-key than on the number line, and had to enter in a ton of numbers for student grading.


snowmentality: I can’t ride a bike.

I could, at one time. But yeah, I'm not great. As a kid, I lived on a down-hill cul-de-sac. Good news: not much traffic. Bad news: decent slope. Worse news: my bike was the back pedal to break type, so when you get going fast, your first reaction to clench your hands, which would help stop most bikes, doesn't do anything helpful. Instead, I ran into a palm tree. I actively refused to look at bikes for a while. But then I enjoyed biking on a flat beach-adjacent path. But as a grown-ass adult, I have crap balance on bikes, but now we have two kids who I feel should be on bikes.


soren_lorensen: Well, my 7-year-old seems to be well on his way to being a grownass adult who can't tie his shoes.

Yeah, another thing on the to-teach list for us :)


Catseye: I can't whistle. And I couldn't blow my nose until I was 14.

This gives me hope for my goofy boys. Our older one just started whistling on his own, randomly, and for a few weeks, he'd just go around the house, whistling. It was cute, until it got annoying ;) But blowing their noses? Yeah, eventually.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:08 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


I am incapable of hearing the difference between the words “bin”, “Ben” and “been”. Apparently I pronounce all three as “bin”, although I have to take the word of others about this. Similarly “pen” and “pin”.

People have suggested that maybe it has something to do with how these words were pronounced in the home where I grew up but no one else in my family has this ridiculously minor affliction. It seems to just be a very small auditory processing issue.


Where are you from and where is your family from? This is a fairly common pronunciation quirk for people from the Mid-South (say, between St. Louis and Nashville, from Southern Illinois to North Mississippi). It appears to varying degrees in other southern accents too, but it's common enough in the region I am from for my ears to perk up to see if someone is from my area when I hear it.

I mean, I definitely say these groups of words in the same way as you do. I'm from West KY/West TN.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:08 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I've owned 4 ties in my life, for funerals and very occasionally weddings, all have been tied exactly one time by someone else and then stored in that state until it's replaced.
posted by Reyturner at 7:08 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I can't write cursive anymore. It's pretty much all gone except for my signature - which is mostly illegible.

I can still write cursive, but I never ever really did it much. My standard printing-cursive hybrid has always been so much quicker and natural feeling.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:09 AM on August 9


My identical twin can whistle fluently; I can barely make a breathing noise.
posted by blob at 7:09 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Doesn't your left hand form an L when you hold it up?

Which... Ok, so that works in German too (links/rechts), but totally fails in Spanish (izquierda/derecha). Is there a handy bodily hint that Spanish speakers grow up learning?

I don't know if this is something actual Spanish speakers grow up with, but if you hold your hand up and make a ring out of your thumb and forefinger, you can form a lowercase d.
posted by JDHarper at 7:09 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


I'm actually sort of excited about cursive going away for really slfish reasons. It's damn near a secret code for those of us born in say 1980 or earlier than younger folks cannot decipher.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:10 AM on August 9 [10 favorites]


I can't snap my fingers, but I think it's because my hands are sort of weirdly proportioned - I have tried to learn and people have tried to teach me, but I just can't get the necessary force needed to make any kind of sound.

I am bad at cleaning things because no one ever showed me how and for some reason I just learned to flail away. It's difficult to make the cognitive switch to "I don't know how to clean this so why not look it up on the internet instead of just trying random methods".

The thing is, I had a basically happy childhood (at least when I was at home; school was a nightmare) with caring parents who were absolutely fantastic about providing all the books I cared to read, home-cooked meals, a clean and pleasant house and a lot of time for conversation with grownups. But the weird thing was that they didn't provide a lot of instructions - they'd just tell me to clean something and expect me to figure it out. This is perfectly reasonable when you're being told to do the dishes, but it's actually helpful to have instructions for mopping a floor properly or cleaning a bathtub. Now I live in a crumbling Victorian house that is difficult to clean even at the best of times, and my intrinsic lack of cleaning knowledge just makes things worse.

Both my parents were ridiculously good at physical things and naturally fairly tidy. I am not. I often feel bad about this.
posted by Frowner at 7:11 AM on August 9 [11 favorites]


Backfloat. I cannot. I sink.

yes i have heard your advice to arch my back or whatever, it doesn't work, i still sink every time
posted by Caxton1476 at 7:13 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I feel like wolves really get the short end of the metaphorical stick here. They're great family members. Much better than a lot of humans.
posted by spindrifter at 7:13 AM on August 9 [13 favorites]


WHAT

I don't mean that being able to read an analog clock is a useless skill, but the rise of digital watches and clocks was nearly everyone's excuse for bombing the test.

Elsewhere, my 16yo honors student ties her shoes bunny ears style, but that's because she's left-handed and I'm a righty and could not for the life of me make my hands reverse to teach her any other way.
posted by Flannery Culp at 7:16 AM on August 9


Always mess up right and left when I'm giving directions in a car. I just fucking point these days: "Go that way."
posted by jscalzi at 6:08 AM on August 9 [3 favorites +] [!]


Back when I was studying physics, when I needed to tell left from right I could get a bit of a boost by thinking about which hand I would use for the vector cross product rule...
posted by biogeo at 6:50 AM on August 9 [+] [!]

Some of these, I wonder if there's some very specific neurological deficit involved, like not being able to tell your left from your right. I mean, your hands look different--they are mirror images, but they are not the same.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:26 AM on August 9 [+] [!]


My people! I have to take a second and remember which side my heart is on to get left, then which hand I would place over it to pledge allegiance, which is right. When I have to quickly spit out a direction to turn to someone driving, I'm as likely to get it wrong as right. The odd thing is, I'm almost always aware of compass direction, even inside with no windows. I would think something that is carried around with you would be easier than some arbitrary map function.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:18 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I have a horrific sense of direction, but i can see the HELL out of a magic eye in a second :-D
seems like a fair trade!
posted by emirenic at 7:18 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


Background: My dad died when I was nine.

I was watching one of the Lethal Weapon movies in which Danny Glover was teaching his son how to shave. I then realized I had been doing it wrong all along. My wife asked me why I was crying.
posted by Billiken at 7:18 AM on August 9 [79 favorites]


+1 for riding a bike. The only two-wheeled vehicle that's not terrifying is a Segway. There was a company that had built a quasi-tricycle whose rear wheels would come together as the bike gained speed. There was even talk of an adult-sized one, and I was excited about that possibility, but it never came to fruition.
posted by emelenjr at 7:19 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


yeah danny glover taught me why i was always getting ingrown hairs on my neck
posted by murphy slaw at 7:20 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I am incapable of hearing the difference between the words “bin”, “Ben” and “been”. Apparently I pronounce all three as “bin”, although I have to take the word of others about this. Similarly “pen” and “pin”.

This isn't an affliction. You have the pin-pen merger, which is a feature of Southern (and south-Midwestern) English. These vowels are the same for you and for millions of other Americans.

Since you never learned the distinction as part of your native language, it's harder for you to distinguish them as an adult. If you've ever tried to learn a foreign language and had difficulty distinguishing between some of the sounds, it's the exact same phenomenon.

That said, people have different abilities to learn new sounds. I grew up with the pin-pen merger but I can distinguish them if I pay attention and have even started producing them differently after living up north for a few years.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:22 AM on August 9 [10 favorites]


People actually hook bras behind their backs in real life (not just the movies)? I've never seen it as an enviable skill, I just hook mine in the front and then pull it around.

If you have obnoxiously large breasts I guarantee you will have no idea that that is even feasible. Hooking in the back is pretty much the only choice.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:24 AM on August 9 [13 favorites]


Right/left is hard! I have a tattoo on my right wrist, placed there in part because I figured it would help me get right/left down better. I still have to stop and think about it every time. It's not that I can't figure out the difference, but I have to take that moment to mentally translate into an actual direction, the way you might for port/starboard if you aren't a sailor. (I am not a sailor, and take approximately the same moment of thought to figure out right/left as I do port/starboard.)

Also, I am horrified to hear Swedes use week numbers in everyday conversation. I use to have to request vacation by week number and quadruple checked every time, I was so convinced I was going to mess it up.
posted by the primroses were over at 7:28 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I cannot make any sense of anything that is going on on twitter. I'm not joking.
posted by bdc34 at 7:28 AM on August 9 [16 favorites]


I am terrible at cleaning and general housekeeping. My cleaning lady (who is a magician I am sure) comes twice a week and went on holiday for a week recently.

I made a very good faith effort to pick up after myself, do the dishes, vacuum, etc etc Every Day.

My place still looked a 12 year old had been left alone by the time she got back.
posted by sio42 at 7:29 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


- I did not figure out how to sip coffee without spilling it all over myself until a few months ago, at the age of 30. I was sitting at breakfast and accidentally pursed my lips a little on the mug and it created this nifty suction effect. and then i realized. i realized. this was how everyone in the entire fucking world has always been doing it. this is how normal human beings drink coffee without awkwardly gulping it down, as i have done for 30 years, while also dribbling coffee on themselves. why, this is even how people consume hot beverages, which i never understood because they always really hurt my mouth, when i was doing the ineffectual gulping thing. i told my partner and family with a mixture of both pride and deep embarrassment but somehow no one was surprised that it took me 30 years to learn how to sip coffee.

- i have long hair. i have never, ever figured out how to give myself a ponytail. i probably never will, because i am chronically incapable of doing anything that involves hand-eye coordination behind my back: as far as my brain is concerned, things behind my back do not exist and have never existed. so i just eat a lot of hair when it's windy, or i wear a hat that sort of keeps the hair from sticking into my tender eyeballs. i scuba-dive and deal with the Hair Problem by just wearing one of those full-face hoods, and my mother (who has also tried for 30 years to teach me to do a ponytail) felt sorry for me and bought me a swimming snood last time we were diving, like the ones you buy for dogs that like to swim but are prone to ear infections. thankfully i have always either dated or been good friends with people who sigh deeply and do ponytails for me because they are very sorry for me, what with me being a giant idiot. this is just how i live.

- i cannot play card games that involve more mental math than Go Fish and NO YOU CANNOT TEACH ME TO PLAY POKER IN 15 MINUTES YOU HUBRIS-FILLED PARTY-GOER YOU CANNOT BEGIN TO IMAGINE HOW MOTH-FILLED MY DIAGNOSED-LEARNING-DISABILITY ARITHMETIC BRAIN IS. (i'm actually pretty good at grasping 'higher mathematical concepts' as long as i can use a calculator, not that this did me even the slightest amount of good in lower school. also, people who think they can overcome one's lifelong learning disability in fifteen minutes at a party because they don't believe you are incapable of learning to play poker are people who should be eaten by wolves).

- i get trapped in my sweatshirts fairly regularly, and then i just sort of flail around desperately, like a cat trapped in a tote bag, until i escape. maybe this is how i will die someday.

- anyway i'm a successful technical professional
posted by faineg at 7:30 AM on August 9 [68 favorites]


I cannot parallel park. I learned it, managed to pull it off for the exam, avoided it as much as I could after, do a 37 point turn into one if I absolutely have to, and I will still end up far away from the curb.

It's weird -- my old man was a god at parallel parking, tried to teach me with pins stuck into the windows, and it just never took. It was 'Just One Simple Trick' over and over and over, and absolutely nothing works. Sorry, Dad.

I have also learned how to play chess Three (3) separate times.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:31 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Uh, I can read an old-fashioned clock face, but if someone suddenly asks me to it'll take me a minute.

I've hooked my bra on my back my entire life, to the point that other routines (hook bra around stomach, twist bra face around to front, place arms into straps) seem impossibly convoluted. Maybe people who have trouble with it just have shorter arms, or favor slightly tighter bras? (Or it could be a flexibility thing; my cousin can't wear my bangle bracelets, even though her hands are smaller than mine.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:31 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


...the most important “skill” needed to pick up new abilities is the determination to keep trying, even if you are sure you look ridiculous.

This reminds me of this Bruce Lee quote that has always been profound to me:
"Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch, and a kick, just a kick.

After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick, no longer a kick.

Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick."
-- Bruce Lee
You can attempt whatever the skill is (punching, throwing pottery, etc.) without really thinking about it but your technique will be crap. Then you start to learn proper technique but you have to think about it so now it feels more awkward than it did before when you have no clue what you were doing. Then you combine the two and can now perform the skill with proper technique but also without really thinking about it.
posted by VTX at 7:32 AM on August 9 [11 favorites]


Oh yeah, and I don’t understand Pinterest. Tried hard for a while but now I’ve given up. What is it even for?
posted by The Toad at 7:32 AM on August 9 [16 favorites]


I can never remember how many days each month has.

I am a life long bicyclist, daily bike commuter, recreational rider and tourist, But I can't master the track stand. I've tried on fixies, S/S and my geared bikes. I've practiced lots. Just can't get it.
posted by cccorlew at 7:32 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I have got all the basic lifeskills down, even the ones that are gendered like wearing make up because I did one act play in high school (I may not look classy, but I can put it on and take it off) and taught my kids how to blow gum bubbles, ride a bike, tie their shoes, braid hair, tell time, and whistle.

I'm on to the 2nd round, which is stuff like sailing, navigating with a sextant (is that even the right word), and using a torch to cook stuff.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:33 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


If you have obnoxiously large breasts I guarantee you will have no idea that that is even feasible. Hooking in the back is pretty much the only choice.
I am quite large of bust, but don't do the hooking behind my back thing either. I basically never take the hooks out - I just put the bra on and take it off like a t-shirt. Maybe I'm stretching it out a bit? But I think my boobs do that anyway.
posted by peacheater at 7:34 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Oh hey, bike stuff I can't do: I can't...um...gear. I very seldom shift gears. No one ever showed me or told me "change gears under different situations" so every bike is basically a fixie for me. I have tried to learn as an adult but it doesn't really seem to improve the riding experience much.
posted by Frowner at 7:35 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


35 years old. Can't drive, though I did try to learn about five or six years ago before moving to New York City. Can't whistle. Might be able to ride a bike, but it's been _decades_ since I did it last, and when I last had a bike to try again, it was stolen before I had a chance. Still have a bit of trouble reading analog clocks at a glance, but can usually figure it out after a moment. Probably the thing I suck most at, though, is proper housecleaning. I don't know the "correct" way to clean stuff, and often take shortcuts.
posted by SansPoint at 7:36 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: I'm buying myself cake.
posted by theora55 at 7:36 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I write software for a living and don't know what to do with a word processor or spreadsheet.

Never learned to drive.

Lacking in basic social, emotional and home skills but that's pretty normal for someone raised male :/ (actively working to do something about this one).
posted by idiopath at 7:37 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Oh hey, bike stuff I can't do: I can't...um...gear. I very seldom shift gears.

My bike has a handle I can use to throw the chain off. I'm told it can shift the gears, but I'm pretty sure that's bullshit.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:39 AM on August 9 [26 favorites]


I can't blow up a balloon with my mouth. Have tried many times. My brain just seems to do the opposite and start sucking air in instead?

For a long while I did not know how to make coffee using a standard filter coffee machine but I just recently mastered that.
posted by peacheater at 7:40 AM on August 9


Oh yeah, and having not grown up in the US, combination locks are very hit-or-miss for me - sometimes I manage ok but most times I will give up and ask my husband to do it.
posted by peacheater at 7:40 AM on August 9


I can't take a bra off. When I was of the age to learn the young women who wore bras weren't the type to date me. Later, at age 45 when I re-entered the dating world, the whole process confounded me. Some found it endearing, others puzzling. I stick with one that found it endearing and now I never have to worry about it again.
Oh, and left from right? I point every time.
posted by Floydd at 7:46 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I used to make coffee for my parents growing up, but I've long forgotten and should probably learn before my next overnight date.

Cannot fold clothes to save my life.

I SUCK, SUCK, SUCK at ironing. My gay roommate will once in a while watch me and say "let me do it!" I miss spots, create creases that I can't get get out later, don't hold the iron between the buttons long enough for fear of burning...it always looks worse than before it was ironed. Luckily, my skin hates most fabric that is not jersey knit and I make a point of buying non-wrinkly things.
posted by Melismata at 7:47 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I can't do clockwise/counterclockwise unless I'm looking at a wall and visualizing a clock. If I try to translate it to anything horizontal, it falls apart.

My husband cannot read analog clocks, which honestly boggles my mind. He's still kinda mad I put an analog clock in the living room, which I vastly prefer because it's easier to tell the time at a glance than with a digital clock. When I was teaching, I hated when I got a room with a digital instead of an analog clock, since on an analog you can see at a glance how much time you have left but with digital there's math. But yeah, he can't read analog.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:49 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Can't put on eyeliner, can't parallel park (literally have never once done it, California driving test didn't require it at the time), can only barely cook. Can't snap my fingers but I think that's a physical "my hands are not built for this" thing. I'm bad at left/right but not as bad as I used to be. Technically can ride a bike but I don't think anyone who's watched me do it would recommend I continue.
posted by potrzebie at 7:52 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Knots. Any of them.

I am a sailor and rock climber. AMA.
posted by schmod at 7:53 AM on August 9 [14 favorites]


I adore "magic eye" pictures; it's like I'm discovering a bizarre secret every single time. If you want to learn to see them, and you don't have one of the actual eye disorders that makes it pretty much impossible, look for the ones with the two guide dots - the goal is to refocus your vision until you see exactly three dots, two blurry ones on the outside and one very solid one in the middle, and the rest of the picture will be in the right focus.

And then you'll try to move your attention down to the picture and you'll lose it. It gets easier with practice.

(I can do the bra behind my back thing. When I wore bras with two hooks, I usually did. I now wear bras with four hooks and it's too much of a nuisance; I'll often wind up starting on the wrong hook.)

I've never been able to whistle a tune; my whistles are single-note (and "scratchy," if that's a term for whistles - it's not a clear sharp sound) unless I really push to make them shift between two notes.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 7:55 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I can never remember how many days each month has.
This is how I remember - the knuckle method.

I can't whistle through my lips, but I can whistle very well through my teeth.

I can put on a bra by hooking the hooks behind my back.

Magic Eye pictures give me a headache.

My lack of direction and navigating ability is famous. One of the reasons I loved living in Colorado was know that "the mountains are always in the west". Now that I'm back in Minnesota I have no mountains to help me out.

I have figured out a few tricks, though. Here's one: I was overjoyed when I realized that Satellite Dishes here (like Direct TV) always face south. I felt like I'd cracked one of the great mysteries of the universe.
posted by Gray Duck at 7:57 AM on August 9 [9 favorites]


I can not shuffle cards. I don't understand how people do that. Really, anything that involves holding playing cards in my hands is a bumbling mess.

I am terrible at tying knots. I can do my shoes and necktie from pure muscle memory born of repetition, but any type of string or rope that needs tied is . . . well it's like a handful of playing cards.

I can only whistle by sucking in, which means I can't whistle well or for very long and if I try to whistle for a while, I get all puffed up and hyperventilated.

I'm a het man and unhooking a bra is a total crapshoot. Sooo many fumblings and giggles.
posted by cyclopticgaze at 7:59 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I'm not a bunny-ears shoe-tie-er, but if you are, it's not like it's an inferior method. The end result of it is exactly equivalent to other way.

i cannot play card games that involve more mental math than Go Fish

As a Wisconsinite, the state constitution requires that I learn Euchre or sheepshead but no. I have no problem with board games (I design them for a hobby!), but for some reason old card games leave me with analysis paralysis (which in the social context that these games are played is Not Okay).

My bike has a handle I can use to throw the chain off. I'm told it can shift the gears, but I'm pretty sure that's bullshit.

If you take your bike to a shop they may be able to adjust the rear wheel to make this not happen.
posted by Jpfed at 8:02 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


With regards to the chain falling off, it's usually a matter of adjusting the limit screws on the rear derailleur. It's not too complicated, an inexperienced person could probably do it in a minute.
posted by cloeburner at 8:06 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


FUCKING Magic Eye pictures
I have actually decided those aren't real
a prank being played on society


Same same. There was a moment in the ’90s when these were suddenly *everywhere*—the comics page in the newspaper, the window of every poster/framing shop—and I was convinced it was some extensive Barnum-type con without any there there, that no one could see any shape but agreed to pretend it was an eagle or the Statue of Liberty or whatever, for the good of the state and the in-group. Once a friend *really* tried to help me see a dinosaur in one tacked up in a shop window, telling me I just needed to relax more—Relax! Relax!—until I relaxed so thoroughly I wet my pants right there on [crowded main drag of college town].

Either that derezzed T.Rex is still laughing at me from its invisible plane or it was never there to begin with. I don’t care which! Seeing them is not a life skill; the real life skill is when a friend keeps telling you to relax so you can see what isn’t there, kick them in the shin & move along.
posted by miles per flower at 8:07 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Oh hey, bike stuff I can't do: I can't...um...gear. I very seldom shift gears. No one ever showed me or told me "change gears under different situations" so every bike is basically a fixie for me. I have tried to learn as an adult but it doesn't really seem to improve the riding experience much.

Once you get old and fat, if you want to ride anywhere with even modestly three-dimensional geography, you'll learn, trust me, if you don't want to blow out your knees.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:08 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Can't snap my fingers but I think that's a physical "my hands are not built for this" thing.

To snap with your thumb and bird finger:
Lick the top side of your bird finger (the skin below the nail) (the side away from your thumb) and then put your thumb there before you snap. Bird will lightly stick to your thumb. To snap, push your bird finger down while quickly moving your thumb away from your bird finger back to where it normally lives. SNAP!
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:09 AM on August 9


It has given me an appreciation for how hard it is for people to learn stuff as adults, and has led to the probably-simplistic insight that the most important “skill” needed to pick up new abilities is the determination to keep trying, even if you are sure you look ridiculous.

so ... that drinking, getting drunk before I hit my teens -- that was a good thing?




this didn't lead to alcoholism by the way -- just fumbled into a "wayward" phase for a while for various reasons ... and it was fun.
posted by philip-random at 8:11 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


The discussion about hearing the difference in pronunciation of “bin”, “Ben” and “been” has me wondering about another set of words. It seems we have collectively agreed that "GIF" is pronounced with a hard-G (could be wrong, could be starting a derail :) ), which bothers me because to my ears it sounds too similar to "gift" and is used in much the same way, ie "I sent him a funny gift/GIF". I'm from the American South but told I have a pretty neutral American accent (although with the pen/pin & Mary/marry/merry mergers). Is it just my neck of the woods that the "t" in "gift" is dropped or not heard?
posted by Is It Over Yet? at 8:18 AM on August 9


Age 66.

I can't put on a bra behind my back-- I have tight shoulders and short arms. I could probably do the coordination part if if I could reach. I've also never been able to have one hand meet from above and the other from below behind my back.

I can't snap my fingers.

I can make a single whistling note. I think I've been able to do a few pitches, but not tunes.

I'm good at analog clocks and I had no idea so many people have trouble with them.

I can't drive. I got up to the point of getting a driver's licence, but it was too frightening to continue.

I can tie my shoes.

I'm not good at navigating, though I can do it somewhat.

I can do fairly simple cooking and imagine food combinations that usually work.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:20 AM on August 9


I can't use chopsticks properly. I've had people try to teach me several times over the years, and I cannot do it. I'm the person asking for a fork.

I cannot shuffle cards well. I will ask that someone else do it on my turn because people will not be happy with the rudimentary method I use. People who can fling the cards through the air from hand to hand are impressive and a little scary.

I cannot hook a bra in the back. I've used the twirl-around method since I was 11. My boobage is significant. Whomever said you can't do this method if you have bigguns is mistaken.

I also didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 11. Never had one, maybe because my family moved around so much. But my dad finally taught me. I remember feeling inadequate when I was over at a friend's house in 5th grade and she asked if I wanted to ride bikes and I said no. I let her think I just didn't want to rather than I couldn't. :(

I had a bear of a time learning stick shift and parallel parking. I eventually got good at stick shift and owned a manual car for a while. Really dumb decision to get an automatic for my second car, because I doubt I can go back to manual now without severe struggle.

On the other hand, I am more dexterous than average at certain skills, like typing or playing piano. Easily learned whistling, swimming, snapping, cooking. The wolves did a good job.
posted by nirblegee at 8:24 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I can't successfully cook rice on the stovetop. I mess it up EVERY single time. Yes, I know it's supposed to be easy. I can cook lots and lots of other things, just not rice in a pan on the stove. Rice cookers ftw.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 8:26 AM on August 9 [8 favorites]


While there's likely loads of things I don't know how to do (I guess driving a car is one most people are surprised I don't know how to do and possibly making small talk) I think one of the most valuable things I have learned was to know and accept when I didn't know how to do something and ask for help. Or in the case of something way out of my skillset, like a substantial home repair, to hire someone to do it.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:26 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


If you cannot tie your shoes, try this method: Ian Knot. The payoff for the other knots is just a tied shoe, the payoff for this knot is that you learn a magic trick.
posted by bdc34 at 8:27 AM on August 9 [8 favorites]


I'm pretty shit at folding clothes, which is perpetually bothersome, in that I very much don't want to be. Yet somehow whenever I see a tutorial or whatever my lines come out terrible compared to theirs, and it's a mess.

Ha. This is me. I’ll ask my husband (who’s blind) to fold my T-shirts and five minutes later he’ll present me with this tight, immaculately-folded stack like some kind of goddamned wizard.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:32 AM on August 9 [18 favorites]


I can absolutely not style my own hair beyond basic brushing and combing. Any sort of updo, braiding, blowdrying over a round brush, anything that requires me to work on the back of my head completely stumps me. I can pull my hair in a ponytail but need to check in the mirror that it's not completely lopsided.
posted by Skybly at 8:34 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Is it just my neck of the woods that the "t" in "gift" is dropped or not heard?

Reduction of final consonant clusters is a feature of some dialects (notably AAVE), but I'm having trouble finding a good overview that maps out its distribution in other dialects. It's a pretty complex phenomenon that can vary by dialect, individual, speaking style, etc. My own dialect has the pin-pen merger but not a notable amount of reduction.

It's also possible that people are pronouncing the "t" but are not releasing it - that is, they form the closure for the consonant but they don't release the closure so you get that characteristic "t" sound. This is pretty common for word-final stop consonants in English.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:37 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Where are you from and where is your family from? This is a fairly common pronunciation quirk for people from the Mid-South (say, between St. Louis and Nashville, from Southern Illinois to North Mississippi). It appears to varying degrees in other southern accents too, but it's common enough in the region I am from for my ears to perk up to see if someone is from my area when I hear it.

I have spent every year of my life but one living in Los Angeles and the one year I lived away was also on the West Coast. My father grew up in Los Angeles, although his parents are Midwestern enough that I have said "ope" my entire life. My mother grew up in San Francisco, but her father came from Florida gator farmers before the Army moved him to the other side of the country.

It seems unlikely that this linguistic tic would skip a generation and also somehow miss my siblings, so it's probably just something weird in my brain (though not the weirdest thing, by far).
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:38 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


One of the funniest things about teaching middle schoolers was the number of things they didn't know how to do because they didn't ever need to. There were many, many kids who never used their gym lockers and desperately tried to hide it because they didn't know how to open a combination lock. Of course they couldn't tell time on an analog clock. Who can any more? There were things they had been taught, and temporarily learned, like handwriting and keyboarding, which they completely forgot how to do. In fact, most of the things they didn't know how to do (tie shoes, etc.) were things they learned once and then forgot.

However, there are other things that seem to have more to do with brain configuration. Neither my husband nor my daughter has a sense of direction, which perturbs me because I know which direction I'm going even in a strange city. My daughter is still not sure of left and right. But she and I are both such fluent, firehose readers that neither my husband nor hers will ever consent to play Boggle or Scrabble with us.
posted by Peach at 8:42 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Fold.

@%#&*!

Fitted.

Sheets.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:42 AM on August 9 [13 favorites]


You're okay. Folding fitted sheets is an advanced-ass life skill.
posted by bz at 8:44 AM on August 9 [28 favorites]


I too cannot cook rice! I finally found a workaround from Alton Brown, at least for brown rice:

-1.5 cups of rice in a baking dish
-2.5 cups of boiling water
-Plus any salt or flavorings you might wish to add

Cover baking dish with tinfoil, throw in the oven for an hour at 190c/375f

Doubles easily!

Now.....if I ever find a cheat for sushi rice, I will be SUPREMELY PLEASED.
posted by Bibliogeek at 8:45 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I was in my early teens when I discovered you can drink and swallow at the same time. Until then I had been fill, swallow, fill, swallow. It never occurred to me that you could just... swallow as you had the glass tipped to your lips and keep drinking.

Still cannot float. Negative buoyancy.
posted by Molesome at 8:46 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I can write in cursive, but only lower case. I never learned how to do any of the capitals.
posted by merriment at 8:46 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


The fun thing about fastening your bra in the back is that you may have done it for decades, but as you get old you will discover that some mornings you wake up sufficiently stiff that it isn't doable. And the twisting the fastened bra around option doesn't work very well when your skin is damp from a shower.
posted by tavella at 8:50 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I can write in cursive, but only lower case. I never learned how to do any of the capitals.

We were supposed to make the cursive capital Q as if it were the number 2, and even as a little kid I knew that that was bogus. I just drew an O, stuck a tail on the bottom that went into the rest of the word, and got on with my life.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:54 AM on August 9 [18 favorites]


I can't successfully cook rice on the stovetop. I mess it up EVERY single time. Yes, I know it's supposed to be easy. I can cook lots and lots of other things, just not rice in a pan on the stove. Rice cookers ftw.
As an Asian person, this feels like reading someone bemoaning their inability to make a smoothie by crushing the fruit in a mortar and pestle and then whisking it all together by hand, and that they're forced to resort to a blender.

Like, I can cook rice or pilaf on a stovetop, but nowadays I just throw all of the ingredients in the rice cooker and let it do its thing so that I can free up the brain space for the other dishes that I'm cooking. Alton Brown's bias against single purpose appliances be damned, rice cookers are not a source of shame in the kitchen.
posted by bl1nk at 8:59 AM on August 9 [27 favorites]


I can touch-type all day long, but can't tie a tie to save my life.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:02 AM on August 9


I was in my mid-30s before I could replace a duvet cover (you know, the giant sack you put a duvet in) without there being at least a 25-30% chance of total failure (sometimes, I kid you not, to the point of me, rather than the duvet, being in the cover, the duvet on the floor; other times 'just' falling over). The power of sheer embarrassment in front of my now ex-wife, and associated trying really, really hard, reduced that to around 15-20% likelihood of failure, which I regarded as a strong win, particularly as I now *almost never* take the place of the duvet, instead 'just' falling over. It's still at that 15-20% level but at least now the loud bang and swearing doesn't attract any attention. Last time I visited my mum, she wouldn't let me dress the bed in the spare room and I was at once mortified and grateful.
posted by deeker at 9:02 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I can't braid my own hair, and my hair skills basically are ponytail or down. I struggle with make up too. Like I get eyeliner, mascara, and foundation....but BB cream? blush? Lipstick? Toner??? It's all a mystery to me.
posted by astapasta24 at 9:09 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I can't do a lot of things because I'm left handed, thanks world

It is impossible for me to cut with scissors unless I have left-handed scissors

Also unrelated: I cannot drive a stick shift
posted by Automocar at 9:17 AM on August 9 [9 favorites]


I was in my mid-30s before I could replace a duvet cover (you know, the giant sack you put a duvet in)

I was so frustrated that I actually resorted to looking up a YouTube video for how to put on a duvet cover. Here’s the method I found:

1) take the duvet cover, turn it inside out, and spread it out on the bed with the opening to the foot of the bed

2) spread out the comforter on top of the duvet

3) roll up the duvet/comforter from the head of the bed to the foot, so you’ve got a long snail/sausage thing laying across the foot of the bed

4) reach in to the opening at the bottom of the duvet and grab the end of the roll and sort of invert it (this is where a video is helpful)

5) repeat with the other end of the roll

6) now push the roll so that it unrolls to the top of the bed.

The duvet will be right-side out on the outside, the comforter will be on the inside, you didn’t have to crawl inside the duvet or jump up and down exhaustedly trying to shake the comforter into the top of the duvet...
posted by leahwrenn at 9:21 AM on August 9 [9 favorites]


Ride a bike. I just had no interest as a kid, for some reason. I just became a very indoor play kid at some point, between Lego and Star Wars figures. (this was pre-Atari days.) So I was in no hurry to learn. Then Dad started getting insistent that I had to learn, which made me dig in harder that no way, and it became an escalating "won't budge" thing. He did manage to get me to go about 100 feet on my own, without him holding the bike, and at that point he decided he was satisfied that I was at least capable of it. So he never mentioned it again, and I never rode one again.

I do sometimes think about it. I've googled tips for learning as an adult and they say it's easy to learn in just an afternoon or so. Chicago has rental bikes everywhere. But if I do learn, I cannot imagine ever riding around the city streets here - up and down the lakefront, sure, for fun, but I can't see myself ever being comfortable trying to run errands on a bike.

The one, for sure, I would definitely learn to ride a bike for that, thing? Burning Man. (Which I'm eyeing as a next year possibility...)
posted by dnash at 9:22 AM on August 9


I can see Magic Eye pictures so well that I saw one in a sparsely populated Excel spreadsheet with wide columns earlier today. But I cannot see a 3D movie. Not "I can't see it in 3D": I can't put the shapes together or see anything coherent at all, it's just a mess of colours and I get a migraine. If I try really hard, I can see double vision of the action inside the flickering mess.
posted by ambrosen at 9:23 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I think I was past thirty before I figured out how to pour liquids without spilling them. I think I was being careful in the wrong way-- tipping the container so slowly that the liquid ran down the side instead of springing free.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 9:27 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Taking "basic-ass life skill" to its [my] literal end: I cannot get my posterior more than 3ft under water no matter how hard I try. Unfortunately, the only part of me that floats is my buoyant behind -- not my face -- so my inability to sink will not save me from drowning, though it will ensure that I drown as comically as possible with my derriere in the air. As a kid I was floated away from underwater tea-parties by my ass, and I still can't retrieve stuff from the bottom of the pool or dive to look at something interesting while snorkeling. Inevitably my tuchas comes bobbing to the surface with the rest of me in tow.
posted by Westringia F. at 9:28 AM on August 9 [12 favorites]


The one seemingly-simple thing that I still can't do, despite hours and hours of diligent work over the course of years, with many different methods and teachers, is roll my R's. I am starting to suspect something about my anatomy is stopping me. (I've had a ton of dental and orthodontic work related to my unusually small jaw, so maybe that's it.)
posted by mbrubeck at 9:28 AM on August 9 [6 favorites]




I'm 50 and I:
  • can't write cursive
  • avoid reading cursive
  • can't float
  • can't type without looking at the letters (and I'm okay with that, and I thank you to be okay with that too)
  • prefer digital clocks to those round things with the big hand that eternally points to my shame
  • can't burp at all
  • should never be trusted to give directions
  • can't properly shuffle cards
  • can't spin pens and keep them in the same room
  • can't catch almost any thrown object, let alone juggle
  • still confuse left from the other left
  • can't crack my knuckles
  • (can't be near anyone cracking their knuckles without wanting to puke)
  • can't learn from YouTube videos
  • can't always tell which way a thread tightens (see left, other left above)
  • never know which side the hot tap is on.
posted by scruss at 9:39 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I have many failings but can, on the other hand, fold a fitted sheet into a rectangle...
posted by jim in austin at 9:56 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Leahwrenn/ellieBOA - if it's good enoughg for Philip Schoefield, it has to be good enough for me! Looks like it might take a wee bit of practice but it seems vanishingly unlikely I will fall over and almost impossible to turn out like a clumsy, angry ghost. I'll report back!
posted by deeker at 10:01 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I hadn't actually tried to write anything cursive in years. Just tried and yep i forget half of the letters and how it all flows together.

But I can tie a tie no problem. Hell I'm the guy at things that ties everyone's tie so they look nice. So I can tie a tie on another person even.
posted by cirhosis at 10:08 AM on August 9


This thread has inspired me to work more on the whistling-with-your-fingers-in-your-mouth technique, and I've made it up to a weedy "fweeeee! fweeeee!" which was more than I could do this morning.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:35 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


That thing I've seen people doing on tv where they seem to put their jackets on both arms at once with a whirling motion behind their backs or something. (Forbidden knowledge, it is.)

That's not me, my friends. One arm at a time. What is the secret?
posted by aesop at 10:35 AM on August 9


Keeping my f-ing room picked up, desk clutter free, clothes off of floor, folding laundry, etc. Ugh.
posted by buzzman at 10:39 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I can't even.
posted by captain afab at 10:45 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


"FUCKING Magic Eye pictures"

My wife couldn't see those until we had kids and I found like 5+ of these in a used book store that I insisted on buying. Something that might help others is she was under the impression that the 3d picture one would see would actually be color accurate to what one was describing.

Nope. We see the same semingly random dot color. It's just that within the random dot color instead of the flat back where the page is, the back of the picture is underneath the page, and the image we're seeing stands out in a fashion similar to the metal pins that people push their hands into. This this.

Seriously, I still love these... the only reason as an adult that I don't have a few full sized posters, is I want an image that I'v really fallen in love with, and most are good, but not great. The one I had in highschool (the only thing I ever bought a frame for) not only had a giant t-rex roaring in your direction, but a background with a cliff with a stegosaurus on it, and 3-4 other dinosaurs in the background, including my beloved triceratops. It was the busiest/best magic eye poster that I've ever seen.
posted by nobeagle at 10:46 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


it's probably just something weird in my brain (though not the weirdest thing, by far).
posted by Parasite Unseen


Um...
posted by sjswitzer at 10:48 AM on August 9 [8 favorites]


boob-havers, you are terrifying me. if your bra is loose enough to put it on over your head like a tank top (??? !!! ?) then it is not the correct size. twisting it around your torso after fastening in the front will also affect its fit in the long term.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:50 AM on August 9 [20 favorites]


i mean i had limited use of my entire left arm for 6 years and am also very stupid (my tea was too hot this morning and i spent a full minute looking for a volume slider on the mug) and yet i can consistently fasten a bra in the back.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:52 AM on August 9 [8 favorites]


> if your bra is loose enough to put it on over your head like a tank top (??? !!! ?) then it is not the correct size

Some of my sports bras go on like that, and seem to be good enough.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:52 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


What's the Most Basic-Ass Life Skill You Never Learned?

1) The difference between 12 AM and 12 PM to any real degree of confidence. Sure, I can always take the time to figure out which one is which, but I prefer to refer to the times midnight, noon, or 11:59 to avoid being confused about what time it is.

2) Being able to determine which buttons I should push when standing at a crosswalk. I just push them all and then I don't have to worry over whether I pressed the correct one.

3) Being able to break at pool, for any reasonable definition of the word "break".
posted by 23skidoo at 10:53 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


left and right in English. I know it in spanish. (not a language I speak) but left and right has defeated me eternally. Sometimes I get it right, but most of the time, I'm just referring to my other right.

I'm really good at spatially orienting myself, route finding, reading maps, but left and right? absolute mindblank.
posted by larthegreat at 10:54 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I am happier than I can tell you to read this thread. As I have aged I have become unable to keep numbers in my head long enough to transfer them from a receipt to my electronic checkbook without saying them aloud, even though I can drive a stick shift, writ cursive, parallel park, and touch type.
posted by Peach at 11:00 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


AND WHAT‘S WRONG WITH BUNNY EARS
posted by Omnomnom at 11:02 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


the bunnies were using them, how will they hear now. did you ever think of that.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:04 AM on August 9 [10 favorites]


I've googled tips for learning [to ride a bike] as an adult and they say it's easy to learn in just an afternoon or so.

Hahaha. I tried for an hour and got to the point where I could kind of stay mostly upright while going forward for about 5 seconds, and then I’d fall off again. I decided that next time I try, I will make it my goal to fall off the bike 100 times.

I tend to be very, very slow at any sort of kinesthetic learning — like, probably less than tenth percentile among people with no actually diagnosable motor impairments. But I have had a couple of experiences of having something physical finally “click” (like when I finally learned to balance on ice skates), so I know it is possible. I’m hoping that after 100 attempts, something will click. My guess is that it will actually take me more like 1000 or 10,000 attempts. I can be really slow at this kind of stuff.
posted by snowmentality at 11:05 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Over the last year I've gotten a lot better at this, but the letters "g" and "j" auditorily confuse me. I have no problem when writing/typing them. I have no problem distinguishing them as I speak, nor for spelling. But if *you* are spelling something for me by saying "eh gee eh eye en ess tee" I will mentally do "a_ainst" and figure out what's needed.

What really sucks, is if I'm taking in random code and I need to differentiate "gee" and "jay" since I can't mentally make sense ofa non-word. Instead I have to quickly go in my head "eh bee see dee ee ef gee" and then I know which is which, for at most a quick half second that I must quickly try to write down while also attempting to hear whatever someone else is saying. Of course, for the last year-ish my volunteer position in large part involves hearing people give me their initials in an outdoor setting. I hate g's and j's even if I am getting a bit better at that. And I hate everyone who's initials are G. J. or J. G. Did their parents hate them?

No problems at all with left and right.
posted by nobeagle at 11:17 AM on August 9


spindrifter: I feel like wolves really get the short end of the metaphorical stick here. They're great family members. Much better than a lot of humans.

And if modern dire wolves are anything like dire wolves, they're stupid loyal. And I do mean stupid -- there are 4,000 individuals represented in the La Brea Tarpits collections. The remains of over 2,000 individual saber-toothed cats rank second. One theory is that one dire wolf would get trapped, and others would try to help it get out, only to get stuck themselves. Or they never learned that the water-covered tar was a deathtrap, despite other animals regularly getting stuck in it.


Billiken: I was watching one of the Lethal Weapon movies in which Danny Glover was teaching his son how to shave. I then realized I had been doing it wrong all along. My wife asked me why I was crying.

I first shaved with skin lotion. Why? I don't remember, but instead of asking my dad, I apparently thought "hey, let's try this." It wasn't my worst decision as a teen-ager, but not my best.


buzzman: Keeping my f-ing room picked up, desk clutter free, clothes off of floor, folding laundry, etc. Ugh.

This me. Somehow, the lovely lady who is my wife dated me, and still agreed to marry me, despite the fact that she had to step around and over things to get into my college bedroom when we first met, and I've only gotten a bit better since then. And don't even look at my email inboxes. I, like nature, abhor a vacuum, and fill up spaces. Almost 40 years old, and I'm still working on this one, and trying to get our kids from becoming like me.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:19 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I don't know how to have someone help me on with a coat. I lived in warm climates my entire life, then I moved to Europe (where many men are trained to help women with their coat). When someone tries to assist I have no idea where to put my arms.
posted by tectressa at 11:19 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


I cannot smile on command. I mean, I smile a fair amount organically, so to speak, but if you ask me to smile, it will look like I'm about to puke or someone just punched me in the nuts. I take terrible photos as a result.

I honestly consider the ability to smile on command to be a superpower.
posted by maxwelton at 11:20 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


> That thing I've seen people doing on tv where they seem to put their jackets on both arms at once with a whirling motion behind their backs or something. (Forbidden knowledge, it is.)

That's not me, my friends. One arm at a time. What is the secret?


I do this all the time when I'm feeling extra (and just tried it out with my denim jacket - still works! but probably works even better with a softer/less stiff jacket). The trick is maintaining spatial awareness of your arms in relation to the jacket's arm holes, so that you're positioning your hands to align with the holes as you maneuver the jacket to fwip around you. You start with holding the jacket by the shoulders with the back facing you (as if you were going to help someone in front of you put the jacket on). Then you twist it around to go over and around you like a cape, while also simultaneously getting your dominant hand ready to slide into its respective sleeve. At the same time, move your other hand up into its respective sleeve as the rest of the jacket descends onto your shoulders.

It takes a little practice but it's one of those kinesthetic things that you can develop an instinct for, if you do it enough. I don't remember emulating anyone in particular when I started doing it, but I'd imagine there's a youtube tutorial out there somewhere to help people figure out the mechanics. It's especially fun to do with a trench coat or longer jacket.
posted by rather be jorting at 11:35 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


the jacket flip is how we learn to do it in preschool, at least in new england.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:46 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


twisting it around your torso after fastening in the front will also affect its fit in the long term.

How? I fasten in the front, near waist level. Then turn it around, put my arms in the straps, pull it up, and adjust as needed. I can see how maaaybe this might stretch the straps a bit much, but it hasn't been a problem for me.
posted by ktkt at 11:50 AM on August 9 [7 favorites]


I can snap my fingers, kinda, but it’s not very loud. How do I make it loud?

Also can’t do the fingers-in-the-mouth whistle. I still have no idea how that works. I can tune-whistle just fine, though.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 11:51 AM on August 9


Listening to Les Filles de Illighadad while reading here, I realize I cannot ululate, and am unlikely to ever learn. I like to sing along so a bit it's a something of a loss...
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 11:51 AM on August 9


I can't whistle.

I also can't do spatial things quick. So I can navigate most anyplace I've been but if some was to say "quick, which way is your house?" I'd blank until I wasn't thinking about it.
posted by Mitheral at 11:51 AM on August 9


The jacket whirl, a.k.a. the Martin Sheen Technique (1-minute mark)? (Sheen had complications at birth which resulted in Erb's Palsy; he has different-length arms and a limited range of motion in his shoulder.) Sheen, as President Bartlet, in a West Wing jacket-donning supercut.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:52 AM on August 9 [11 favorites]


If you haven't learned this by now. Just keep your bras hooked where you want them hooked, and put them on over your head, like putting on a t-shirt. Just put it on, even the front loaders

As for simple things I can't do, I finally learned to keep my mouth shut. It took a while.
posted by Oyéah at 11:55 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Just keep your bras hooked where you want them hooked, and put them on over your head, like putting on a t-shirt.

I'm a non-boob-haver, but I've known a lot of boobs in my day. This sounds... less than ideal for those with properly snug bands and large cup sizes.
posted by slkinsey at 11:58 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I don't have depth perception (I only have one eye - the other eye is gone), so I have to compensate for a lot of things people take for granted. Those magic eye things are THE WORST.
posted by alathia at 12:12 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


This sounds... less than ideal for those with properly snug bands and large cup sizes.

i mean really. the difference between my underboob measurement (32") and my overboob measurement (38") means that any bra which, when fastened, could be put on like a t-shirt, would be about as useful an item of boob-wrangling clothing as an actual regular t-shirt.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:23 PM on August 9 [9 favorites]


I also have trouble with right and left but oddly, not clockwise or counterclockwise. If I could program my GPS to tell me to turn widdershins instead of left, I would never make a wrong turn while driving again.
posted by darchildre at 12:31 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Going out of the house to any place with more humans than 10 without shrieking in existential fear.
posted by symbioid at 12:33 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


I don't think the Twitter thread (or this MF one) does a particularly good job delineating between "skills" people could easily develop if they tried to learn properly and put in effort, and things that are predetermined (like being able to curl/roll your tongue) or difficult/impossible due to cognitive or physical limitations.

I mean, ten minutes ago, I didn't know how to tie a tie, but I'm a woman and I've never worn a tie. I just found this, which explains how to tie a tie in video, illustrations, and words. As per usual, only words work for me. I didn't have a tie, so I used a long, narrow headscarf. So I guess now I can tie a tie? (I'm not sure if people mean they can't remember the steps, or if they physically can't follow the steps, which, to me would be like the difference between not remembering the directions somewhere and not being able to follow GPS instructions.)

I couldn't swallow pills until I was twelve, when I had a situation where I HAD to, and I just spent a while asking people how they did it until I realized what I was misunderstanding about how you were supposed to do it without choking, and then it was fine. Again, it was all about lacking the information. (This is why I can't understand people saying they "can't" clean things. I get not wanting to. I totally get being lazy and refusing to follow the steps to do it "properly." But if you are ablebodied, how can you not clean "right" if you follow the directions? It's not like riding a bike, which could involve motor coordination and balance problems.)

So, I think there's a big difference between skills you haven't mastered yet because you haven't really tried, and things you are (and forever will be) incapable of doing.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 12:39 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


To snap with your thumb and bird finger

Wait. What?
posted by thelonius at 12:40 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


"...should never be trusted to give directions..."

I cannot give directions to save my life (or anyone else's).

I do, however, have a superb sense of direction. I know where I am, which direction I am facing, and I can get myself to some other point unfailingly. But to explain that to someone else? Unpossible. I cannot translate my spatial memory into words. I am so likely to give wrong directions that it's become a mild phobia. Just don't ask me.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:42 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


My dad doesn't reflexively know left from right, but as a good Catholic he knows one blesses themselves with their right hand, so any time you're giving him directions while he's driving like, "it's a right turn up here" he'll pause to bless himself before following your directions. It's kinda charming.

I've committed to learning to cook on a charcoal grill this summer. It's now August. Last night I gave the grill a good long look before going back inside and making a quesadilla on the stove so I'd say I'm making progress.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 12:44 PM on August 9 [11 favorites]


Oh also sometimes I just mentally categorize things in such a way that I can't separate them fast enough to be useful in conversation? Like I know the difference between a giraffe and a zebra but they're just coming out interchangeably in conversation because they're both filed in my brain under "stupid horses" or something.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 12:46 PM on August 9 [21 favorites]


I've googled tips for learning [to ride a bike] as an adult and they say it's easy to learn in just an afternoon or so.

I learned to ride a bike as an adult. I practiced a couple hours a day for several days before I was able to ride on a straight path without getting intimately acquainted with the roadside bushes. I'm pretty sure I got nerve damage from holding on the handlebars too hard – I lost the feeling in half of my hand and it took days until it all returned. Even now, years later, that hand gets numb easily when it's cold or when I'm carrying something heavy. It took a couple more days (again, a couple hours every day) before I was able to make turns. A month before I felt comfortable commuting in the suburbs, on bike paths. A couple months before I felt safe in the (modestly sized, well infrastructured) city.

A year later I did a spontaneous >100 km day trip, and a 1000 km month just to see if I could. One day I bought a tent and panniers and rode out into the forest and camped. But I still suck at some parts of bike riding that come naturally to other people, like mounting the bike the "right" way (without pushing off with your foot) or using hand brakes. I cannot stand on the pedals when riding uphill. Not just physically but conceptually – when I'm thinking of trying to do it, I cannot imagine what sort of movements I should force my body to do.

This is too say: riding a bike is hard. It's a complex fucking skill. After my first afternoon all I had was pain and blood.
posted by Vesihiisi at 12:50 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


Basic skill? I can't drive. I only learned how to swim this year, though.
posted by droplet at 12:54 PM on August 9


Alton Brown's bias against single purpose appliances be damned, rice cookers are not a source of shame in the kitchen.

Roger Ebert gives rice cookers two thumbs so high up he wrote a cookbook for them.
posted by srboisvert at 12:56 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


This is too say: riding a bike is hard. It's a complex fucking skill. After my first afternoon all I had was pain and blood.

I've taught adults to ride bicycles. My main trick is to teach it using a woman's mountain bike on grass first so that failure isn't nearly as painful.
posted by srboisvert at 12:58 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


A long time ago my mom told me the "right" way to tie my shoes that wasn't bunny-ears, and then at some point I forgot and went back to bunny ears, and now I do double bunny ears so that my shoes never, ever come untied.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:03 PM on August 9


For the past few years I've been working pretty actively on how I approach domestic labor, taking it on actively, and doing it in a thoughtful, detail-oriented way, and I can honestly say that I think I've made a lot of progress, but all that said it's only in the last year and a half or so that I learned that there's a better way to clean things off the carpet or rug than attempting to wipe it down with paper towels and all-purpose cleaner.
posted by invitapriore at 1:06 PM on August 9


for people who have (non-motor-related) difficulties when bow tying shoes, look into that lace lock technique that will keep them secure even if the main bow comes undone. i guess it also works for motor-related difficulties but you might have to have someone else help you lace up the initial lock?
posted by poffin boffin at 1:07 PM on August 9


I can swim but I can't sink. That may seem like a good thing, but when you are with a bunch of other ten-year-olds at a pool party diving for coins and you just keep popping up like a cork, it is embarrassing. Also when your flipper falls off and sinks at the Y and the lifeguard has to swim down and get it for you. I no longer use flippers.
posted by pangolin party at 1:22 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I never did learn how to do the fingers in the mouth really loud whistle. Or any really loud whistle. I can whistle a tune, but not to get someone's attention from a hundred meters away.

I don't consider it a basic life skill, because I think they're obsolete and exist mainly as decoration not timepieces, but I can't instantly tell time looking at an analog clock. I can figure it out, I know how they work and how to tell time using them; but I have to think for a moment.

A few years ago I did learn to tie a tie. I can't remember any longer, but I got fairly good at it before I stopped practicing. It isn't hard with youtube. I even tied a Trinity Knot and a full Windsor so they looked fairly good not just the half Windsor most Americans use.
posted by sotonohito at 1:26 PM on August 9


Oh, and I still don't know what the hell people mean when they say "right" and "left" when referring to screws and bolts. Do they mean right from the top, or bottom? My father taught me a little rhyme to remember how to deal with screws and bolts: "righty tighty, lefty loosey", but while I remember it I never could make use of it because right and left from what?


Every time I have to unscrew something I have to stop, think hard, try twisting both ways and use the feedback from that to figure out which way to turn the screw. Which is damn embarrassing and tricky when I have to stand on the lug wrench to try to loosen or tighten a bolt while changing a tire.
posted by sotonohito at 1:30 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


The answer is that it's the top. Think how your steering wheel works (if you drive), clockwise is "right." Also remember that this world is (unfairly) built for right-handed people and turning right (clockwise) with your right hand is more natural (has more mechanical advantage) and that it is no accident that it works that way.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:37 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I have never been able to recall the rules of a card game after not playing for two weeks. It's just ... gone. I've learned and forgotten bridge, gin, spades, spit, hearts, that one with the board and pegs. (Cribbage!) Nothing sticks.

My sense of direction is famously bad. Like, even my dog rolls his eyes when I say, "I'm sure it's that way." In fact, if I say that, head confidently in the opposite direction.
posted by corvikate at 1:59 PM on August 9 [8 favorites]


I have never been able to roll my r's despite hours of effort over decades. But one day I was listening to an opera on the radio, tried to sing part of an aria after the tenor had finished that passage, and did a perfect tongue trill r.

I was so excited! I went around for the rest of that evening trilling my r's and practically hugging myself in glee.

But when I woke up the next morning it was gone, and nothing I tried was able to bring it back, then or since.

And that's a pattern which has afflicted me my entire life. I can't swim, but my sister used to tell a story to the effect that I jumped into a family friend's pool at 4 and swam back and forth several times better than she could after a year of lessons, though I have no memory of this — but the next time I was around a pool, all I could do was thrash around chaotically, and she had to jump in to pull me out. When my handwriting was execrable, my parents bought me a typewriter (my school suggested doing this almost a year later) at the Salvation Army; I knew you weren't supposed to look at the keyboard, and I was typing without looking faster than I could write by the third day. But when I put it away for the weekend and got it out again, I could only hunt and peck very haltingly and never progressed beyond that point despite a lot of effort.

I could give a dozen more examples of this dismal trope, but until I read this thread, I didn't connect it to the story my parents always told about how I learned to walk and talk at six months, but then got sick with ear infections, colitis, and prolonged raging fevers that touched 106 °F and could only be controlled with ice baths, and 'forgot' how to do both those things as well as a lot more. Then when I started talking again (I don't know how much later, but more than 6 months) my speech was very different: complete sentences and so formal and correct that it made strangers turn around and stare at times, they said.

I also have mild 'alien hand' syndrome which can manifest in extreme emotional states, and has forced me to grab my left hand like Dr. Strangelove to stop it from doing things I didn't want it to on a couple of occasions.
posted by jamjam at 2:19 PM on August 9 [8 favorites]


I can't stand on one foot; I topple right over. I have to hold onto something, or be sitting down, to even put pants on. I think it's an ear thing.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:25 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I can’t cook meat. Yesterday I fucked up ground beef. (I was a vegetarian in my teens and twenties; now my husband cooks any meat.)

But I can back bra unhook like a ninja!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:40 PM on August 9


Oh I also mix up left and right all the time. So I am shite at giving real time directions.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:43 PM on August 9


This is not an important life skill, but I have never been able to do a cartwheel. My body just kind of senses danger and stops itself before I get to the point of no return.
The fun thing about living in another country is you get even more life skills to be bad at! Though as a foreigner you also have an excuse.

Local things I fail at:
Making onigiri that don’t immediately disintegrate (yeah I need to get one of those mold things)
Sitting on the floor with my legs folded underneath me for more than one minute. At a friends funeral, I didn’t have any choice and despite using this little chair thing to make it easier, one of my legs was dead asleep by the end and I almost crashed through a shoji paper screen trying to get up.
I can use chopsticks but for difficult foods I have zero shame about touching with fingers and/or doing a knife and fork maneuver.
posted by sacchan at 3:02 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Yeah, weirdly I am also better with clockwise/counterclockwise than I am with left/right. If I've been doing a lot of stuff with hardware recently, the thought "which direction do I turn a screw to make it go in?" can help me get to the correct answer for left/right faster.

For some reason the "my left hand makes an L" thing doesn't really help. By the time I think of it, I could have just more slowly worked my way to the correct answer anyway. I think it's a language thing; for some reason my ability to connect language to spatial judgment is impeded.

Also weirdly, I have great spatial reasoning for things like mental object manipulation and maps, but when it comes to actually navigating an environment I'm also hopeless. Every time I move to a new area I spend several months knowing I'm going to get lost a lot, even following routes I've previously taken, until I actually have managed to internalize a more explicit map-like representation that I can relate myself to. A friend of mine (who is sort of the opposite: she's fine with navigating space, but has basically no ability to do mental object manipulation or even really imagine a three-dimensional object at all) recently suggested that I should try conceptualizing the space around me as a small scale model, which was kind of a breakthrough. I'm not sure how well it will work yet as I haven't really been put in a position that would put it to the test, but there's something much more comfortable for me with thinking about my environment as a small object I could manipulate than as something I'm inside of and need to navigate.

Brains are weird.
posted by biogeo at 3:08 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I can't drive.

Well, to be more precise - I can drive, in that I can operate a motor vehicle competently (I was even pretty good at parallel parking at one point!) What I can't do is cope with the idea that I'm in sole control of a fast-moving 3000lb+ metal cage and somehow have to get it from point A to point B without hitting anything or anyone, including navigating around numerous other people in their own metal cages who don't seem to have any hangups about it and are on their phone, texting, doing their makeup, etc. I remember taking driving lessons at age 16 and my instructor laughing so hard when I was grumbling that I didn't have any problems with driving, it was other drivers that was the problem. I never did get my license, though I have an appointment at the CA DMV in about a month, so we'll see how that goes...
posted by btfreek at 3:23 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


I have the left-right confusion thing. I can do it if I have a moment to think, but if I try to do it off the cuff I mess up every time.

I can't read any but the simplest of line graphs. I understand the concept, but in practice there is usually just too much going on between trying to figure out what the abbreviations mean and what the lines are trying to show. If you try to show me on a graph that sales of chocolate and also lawn mowers have increased around the time of the full moon every month for the last century, I will just have to take your word for it.

Speaking of lawn mowers, I have absolutely no idea how to use one. When I was a kid my dad would never let me do it, supposedly because his dad almost cut off his own foot using one and dad thought it was too dangerous for a girl. Apparently he didn't give a shit about my brother's feet. Later I realized that mowing the lawn didn't look like very much fun anyway, so not knowing how seemed like a pretty handy excuse.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:24 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


My husband never learned how to touch type. He types with his two index fingers. He's fucking fast at it, though, from years of playing games on the computer he says. He's a programmer by way of career and it hasn't hindered him any. Whenever I hear him typing anything lengthy it surely sounds like he's hitting the keys as fast as I do (and my touch typing speed is respectable if not remarkable.)
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:31 PM on August 9


I am so HAPPY to see so many fellow mefites not able to hook the bra in the back! I always knew you were my peeps.
posted by jadepearl at 3:37 PM on August 9 [9 favorites]


I cannot make any sense of anything that is going on on twitter. I'm not joking.

Me neither.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:39 PM on August 9


I have always hooked my bra in the back, even when I had a frozen shoulder and reaching behind myself in that manner was agonizing. I've never been able to front fasten because I can't get the tight bra band to twist around myself into the proper position. The fact that so many on here claim to do it that way now makes me wonder if I wear my bra too tight. Which might explain why it's so uncomfortable that I yank it off within seconds of arriving home from work every day....
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:45 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


I can't hula hoop anymore. I know I could as a child, but my kids are into it now and I just flail like an idiot. What happened?

Also, in one of Bill Bryson's books he talks about how his wife could always pick the nicest guesthouse or motel out of a bunch but when he did it alone he always ended up in a musty, drippy murderhouse. It me.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:52 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


I can't hula hoop anymore. I know I could as a child, but my kids are into it now and I just flail like an idiot. What happened?

I had the same problem but finally figured it out. It has to do with size.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:20 PM on August 9


I have a hard time with foods that require cutting with a knife, and then eating with a fork. The dexterity required just boggles me, for some reason. Usually, food gets smeared on a hand or something, or I drop one of the utensils, etc.

Ironically, chopsticks are no problem, and I use them nearly every day.
posted by spinifex23 at 4:22 PM on August 9


(my tea was too hot this morning and i spent a full minute looking for a volume slider on the mug)

Oh that's an app on your phone these days. Look for "Heatr" or "Coolr."
posted by soundguy99 at 4:33 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I have never been able to recall the rules of a card game after not playing for two weeks. It's just ... gone.

I can't remember jokes. If I tried, hard, I could MAYBE come up with a dozen, out of hundreds or thousands that I have heard.
posted by thelonius at 4:36 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


So glad I'm not the only one who fastens her bra in front and rotates it around. I saw this lifehacker article on my own recently, and thought about making an AskMe about how many fasten their bra which way. Wondered if we'd come up with a new "You do what?!?"

Never was able to see a Magic Eye - though maybe I could do it now.

My basic-ass adulting fail: I am a great cook, but I fail at the super basics, like pancakes and french toast and basically pan-searing anything. I skip any recipe that calls for pan-seared chicken breasts. There is a magical timewarp in my kitchen between raw-enough-to-kill-you, and burnt beyond a crisp. There is no middle ground. I will bake, poach, braise, stew, etc., as needed, but screw you, pan-frying.

My other adulting fail, which isn't so bad for me overall, is that I fail to remember what movies I've seen. Or if I remember that I've seen them, I have no clue of the plot. I most definitely don't remember who's in it. And if someone tells me that so-and-so actor was in it, I probably can't picture what that person looks like. It would be best if no one ever changed their hair or clothes in a movie - that makes it easier for me to keep track. (Maybe it's a sort of prosopagnosia, but not so severe?)
posted by hydra77 at 4:44 PM on August 9


I have always hooked my bra in the back, even when I had a frozen shoulder and reaching behind myself in that manner was agonizing.

I have a frozen shoulder at the moment and only ever give up and fasten or unfasten around the front when is completely impossible to get my arm far enough behind me. I find the sensory experience of tugging a tight band around my torso unbearable so it's fascinating to me that anyone would do that preferentially.
posted by sarahw at 4:47 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


My sports fails are legion, but two:

* I cannot bouncy dive off a diving board. My efforts would make for a hilarious video which will never be seen because I am never going on a diving board again.
* A basketball "layup" was a move that was beyond me. To this day I have no idea how anyone does one.

Hm. My list is not making me sound like the hottest creature to trod the earth, is it? Note to myself, leave out of profile...
posted by maxwelton at 4:51 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


In my opinion layups are impossible without travelling. Clearly, I do not understand basketball. Anyway, I could never figure it out.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:56 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


(I would say "as a non-boob person"--I really need to lay off the snacks--but onward: Never having worn a bra, purchased one, etc...are front-clasp bras inherently inferior, or much more money, or require a certain physique, or? I'm genuinely curious. I know as a woman I would find a back-clasp bra impossible to fasten. I had enough trouble with my high school job which required a back-fastening apron, tied with string, but much lower down on the back.)
posted by maxwelton at 4:58 PM on August 9


To snap with your thumb and bird finger

Wait. What?


You know, the finger you use to give someone The Bird?
posted by Knowyournuts at 4:59 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I am not a super-loud finger snapper, but your fingers do require some moisture on them for the loudest sound--try breathing on the pad of your thumb and middle finger before doing the snap. Not too much, you're not looking for "wet", but dry fingers are nowhere near as loud as those which are a bit moist.
posted by maxwelton at 5:05 PM on August 9


Maxwelton, front fastening bras can be painful if you have a small ribcage and large boob combination or even large ribcage large boob combination body shape, the clasp will be digging into your lower sternum all the time you are wearing it...
posted by Faintdreams at 5:08 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


When I was a diver--and I was never any good, but had a few decent dives--the kids would always set the board on its most floppy setting for no reason but to run off the end (ugh). I had a setting that would work well for me but it was always a point of annoyment for the queue behind me that I set it. There was never any complaint when the kids set it to bounciest.

Now, as an adult, I cannot tell you how many times I have been chastised for attempting such basic dives as a one and half, an inward, or--god forbid--a gainer. Anyway, before doing any dive, you have to have a good feel for the board's bounce. It takes many attempts to learn it.

To to the topic, I could never do the two-finger whistle, though I can whistle every other way known to man. And back to diving, I could never do a twist dive and had very very few dives that would enter on the blind side. I do not even understand how twists are even physically possible. Maybe I just over-thought it.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:10 PM on August 9


are front-clasp bras inherently inferior, or much more money, or require a certain physique, or?

In my limited experience with front clasp bras, if the clasp is sturdy enough to be secure when one has ample boobage, it's not very pretty. Three or four hooks are difficult to style attractively at the front of a bra; while the cute little one-hook plunge front-closure feels like it's just one deep breath away from bursting open with a sharp whap to the armpits.

A back-clasp bra can be fairly sturdy in the back to hold the bra secure, yet still have a bit of shape and style in the front where it counts.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:11 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Backfloat. I cannot. I sink.


You can float. Your legs will naturally sink unless you're, um, "heavyset." All the air in your lungs acts as a flotation device, but your legs will naturally sink. So, backfloating in the traditional sense isn't really floating, most people use their hands to keep their legs up.

The most natural floating position is the "surivival float." With your face in the water, the air in your lungs at your back will keep you on top of the water, your legs will sink under you. To breathe, you exhale, give a quick "clapping motion" to pop your mouth out of the water for a breath, then back in the water until you need to breathe again. Floating on your back is a myth, it actually involves swimming motions. If you aren't swimming, it will be pretty much like standing in the water with your head up, as long as you have air in your lungs.
posted by Chuffy at 5:13 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


No matter how many times I practice or watch YouTube videos or have the Sephora girl demonstrate on me, I cannot figure out how to apply eyeshadow, particularly the crease part.
posted by Jess the Mess at 5:14 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


I am wracking my brain for a basic-ass skill I never learned, but I'm drawing a blank. I've done a shit-ton of basic-ass stuff.

Maybe spinning a pen or a basketball?
posted by Chuffy at 5:16 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Here is an example of a "sturdy" front closure bra for larger sizes.

And here is one of the front-close plunge bras. Which actually looks a little sturdier than some I've had, but you can see how the stress on that single clasp could be a concern.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:19 PM on August 9


are front-clasp bras inherently inferior, or much more money, or require a certain physique, or?

In my experience, they just aren't something you see much. I don't know if I've ever tried one on, but a quick search is showing me some that look like they might be comfortable, depending on how much you feel the clasps. I can always feel the back clasp and it annoys me so I prefer bras that don't have one. I don't know whether a front clasp would be less noticeable or just annoy a different part of my body.

The thing about buying bras is that most of them just won't fit right for your particular set of breasts. Each style comes in a limited number of sizes that each work for a limited set of breast shapes and sizes, while people's actual breasts come in an unlimited number of size and shape variations. So it's not like you can just decide that front clasp bras seem like a good idea and go to the store and grab one off the shelf and take it home, or buy one online and expect it to fit. Out of the hundreds of bras hanging in a lingerie department most don't even come close to being the right size and also meeting my comfort requirements. I may find a couple styles that will work or I may not find anything at all.
posted by Redstart at 5:21 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I’ve never found a front-clasper that I liked. They tend to ride up in the back and down in the front (kind of defeating the purpose).

All this bra talk makes me feel like we’re in a Phyllis Reynolds Naylor book.
posted by sallybrown at 5:22 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Protip for back floating: If your problem is that your legs sink, put your arms over your head. If your problem is overall density... yeah, there's nothing you can do (except change your density).
posted by sjswitzer at 5:23 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


are front-clasp bras inherently inferior, or much more money, or require a certain physique, or? I'm genuinely curious

a lot of front closure ones are long-line bras, which are either pretty ugly and serviceable looking or fancy half-corset type things that itch. i like the super uggo ones for sitting around the house and also for sleeping (yeah i fucking sleep in bras and i do not give a single fuck what anyone has to say about that so save it for someone who cares, boob havers of mefi) and i got into them specifically after boob reduction surgery bc surgical bras also fasten in the front and are super uggo yet soft and comfy.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:41 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


are front-clasp bras inherently inferior, or much more money, or require a certain physique, or? I'm genuinely curious

One public front-clasp failure was enough to convert me to back closures.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:09 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


> are front-clasp bras inherently inferior

The ones I've worn dig into my sternum. Other people's shapes may vary.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:09 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


i can’t wink.
posted by emmling at 6:41 PM on August 9


The trick for fastening a bra behind your back is where you put your thumbs on the fasteners. Put each thumb centered on and just touching the metal parts. Then when you reach behind, touch your thumbs.
posted by hypnogogue


Dang. Okay, that's one less basic skill that I can cross off my list (I may need to bookmark this for tomorrow, though).
Meanwhile, whistling, parallel parking and dropping my right eyebrow are dismal failures.

Back in the day, my kindergarten teacher was somewhat concerned about my hand-eye coordination. The project: a tray with a wooden base, evenly spaced holes around the edges, and woven sisal walls. I could get the ropes through the holes, but weaving them together was intensely frustrating. She tried to get me started on multiple occasions, only to see me giving up in tears at the tangled mess I was making.
My mother reminded her that I was left-handed.
Mom had that finished tray in the living room for many years.
posted by TrishaU at 6:52 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I've googled tips for learning as an adult and they say it's easy to learn in just an afternoon or so.
So this is the thing, right, because I've done the same. And Vesihiisi's story pretty much lays this out too: it doesn't seem conceptually difficult, there's a lot of subtle body kinetics going on that are going to take a lot of damn time to turn into body memory. And it also doesn't seem like there's a way to do it that doesn't involve first getting okay with the idea of just busting your whole fucking body all the way open the first few times, and I haven't been able to do that. I have semi-tried to teach myself a few times, spent a couple afternoons. And I spent so much time throwing my feet down catching myself to keep from falling that I spent 0% of time gaining any kind of biking familiarity. And then I'm so fucking exhausted I can't continue. And my balance is generally okay!

There's even a bike shop around here that's been, like, yeah we'll help teach you! Which is very nice of them, but also just seems like saying "fall down in front of us a thousand times, because that's somehow better than falling down by yourself a thousand times." Maybe it is? But it's still falling down a thousand times, which I seem to have a significant psychological barrier to doing.
posted by penduluum at 6:53 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Late to the thread but...

Snap my fingers ?      No.

Whistle ?                      No.

Drive ?                          Only in my dreams.

Ride a bike ?                Yes.

One of these is definitely related to the other. And, although I have never driven, I obviously have absorbed the theory. To an extent: I don't drive stick -- automatic transmission only.
posted by y2karl at 7:36 PM on August 9


Inspired by President Bartlet, [ thank you Iris Gambol!] this will be the weekend I finally learn how to put on a jacket both arms at once.

Any nearby vases or tall press secretaries better look out for flailing limbs and any ejecta from my pockets as they (the pocketthings) succumb to intense centrifugal forces.
posted by aesop at 8:06 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


I can do literally everything, with skill and grace. Absolutely true.

except earn my parents’ approval. Sadly, also true.

Hold me.

posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:33 PM on August 9 [14 favorites]


I never really got the hang of eating noodles with a fork by twirling the fork or however you end up with a bunch of whole noodles, so I cut noodles up into scoopable chunks with the side of the fork and eat them like non-noodle foods.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:34 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I haven’t played sports since grade school, and was so hopeless at them that I won’t even play a friendly game of basketball/softball/beach volleyball/ping pong/what have you. Honestly, I’ve had to explain to people in my adult life that the reason I won’t shoot hoops, etc, with them is THEY’LL LIKE ME LESS WHEN WE’RE DONE. This also applies to card games, I just can’t wrap my head around them - teach me a card game once and you’ll need to show me again the next time we play.
posted by tantrumthecat at 8:41 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


it was eye-opening to see how many of the people in the linked discussion (and here, too) who couldn't apply makeup were women or non-binary. this was quite a shock, as I would never have guessed that virtually all men did know how.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:48 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


> Inspired by President Bartlet, [ thank you Iris Gambol!] this will be the weekend I finally learn how to put on a jacket both arms at once.

aesop, another little trick I realized while putting on my jacket just now - if you already have your dominant hand near the beginning of its respective sleeve, you can guide your arm in that sleeve as you're whipping the jacket around, making it easier for you to get the other arm in the other sleeve at the same time (instead of trying to keep track of both sleeve beginnings at once).
posted by rather be jorting at 8:56 PM on August 9


“Inspired by President Bartlet, [ thank you Iris Gambol!] this will be the weekend I finally learn how to put on a jacket both arms at once”

Let me help you.
posted by tinkletown at 9:17 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]



“Inspired by President Bartlet, [ thank you Iris Gambol!] this will be the weekend I finally learn how to put on a jacket both arms at once”

Note, however, that this is shockingly hard on the seams of your jacket. Bartlett may have a personal tailor and an inexhaustible supply of suits, but do you?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:46 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


For the life of me, I cannot walk in wet conditions without soaking the backs of my legs. I need mudflaps on my calves, it's absolutely ridiculous. I have no idea what is up with my gait.
posted by emeiji at 10:03 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


but also just seems like saying "fall down in front of us a thousand times, because that's somehow better than falling down by yourself a thousand times." Maybe it is? But it's still falling down a thousand times, which I seem to have a significant psychological barrier to doing.

Hitting the ground doesn't have to be part of the learning. They make training wheels in adult sizes. The better ones are a bit pricey but could probably be sold to recover soe of the outlay.
posted by Mitheral at 10:28 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I'm 50 and I:

can't write cursive
avoid reading cursive
can't float
can't type without looking at the letters (and I'm okay with that, and I thank you to be okay with that too)
prefer digital clocks to those round things with the big hand that eternally points to my shame
can't burp at all
should never be trusted to give directions
can't properly shuffle cards
can't spin pens and keep them in the same room
can't catch almost any thrown object, let alone juggle
still confuse left from the other left
can't crack my knuckles
(can't be near anyone cracking their knuckles without wanting to puke)
can't learn from YouTube videos
can't always tell which way a thread tightens (see left, other left above)
never know which side the hot tap is on.


I'm 60 and I can do all of these things*. There's still time.

* except crack my knuckles*. seriously, who needs that shit!?!
posted by philip-random at 11:54 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Add me to the "can't ride a bike" club. I'm 45 and I just never learned.
I'm also hopeless at playing any sport that involves a ball. A ball comes toward me and my instinct is to duck and run away, instead of catching/batting at/volleying it or what have you.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:48 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


They have told me "Just relax. You won't sink. Your body will hold you up." No, it won't. I sink like a stone. And there a lot of ppl like me, negative buoyant.

I drank half of Lake Conroe trying to learn to ski. Not gonna happen.

I'd love to do that shrieking whistle that my friend Patty Ann could do just by putting thumb and finger from one hand into her mouth. Not gonna happen.

Electricity. Nope. Nope nope nope. I got hit so hard once that my muscles all convulsed and it threw me backwards across the room. I change out plugs and switches but I've been hit even doing that. I pretty much don't get it. It's best I mostly stay away. I have a good friend who does it anyways.

I *love* cursive writing. But even when I still knew how to do it, mine was a scribbly, scrabbly, ugly scrawl. In 1994, when getting my first passport, I'm like "Dang, I don't want to carry that hideous signature around with me." and I taught myself a beautiful hand. Which I never have used again, until about a month ago, when re-financing this condo; I knew I was going to be signing my name for a few hours so I toned it up some. So I do have the power in me, like a hidden super-power. An older sister learned calligraphy and for over 40 years now her hand is gorgeous. Before that passport I literally had even forgotten cursive, all of those years on construction sites (everything is in print) and all of those years as a programmer (same), but I remembered in about forty minutes in order to sign that passport, using first middle and last name. I'm going to get another passport, and will write pretty on it. I do not know what any of this tells me, or reflects about me.

The track stand. I'm almost positive that these people have special tires that flat out and hold them up to make me feel lame. I have tried and tried. Not gonna happen.

Dancing. I live in Texas. Go ahead and mock country music if you want but if you want to see beauty go to any honky-tonk of a weekend night and watch these people whirl and smile. And every Friday night, and every Saturday night, they get in a line dance for The Cotton Eyed Joe and go ahead, mock away, but they're having the time of their life, and three times in that song, at the end of stanzas, they all shout "Bullshit!" which needs to be done at least once a week, seems to me. I have tried, and tried, to learn to dance. No cigar. So I'm on the sidelines, watching these people laugh and dance.

Bras. WTF is with those goddamn hooks? Everything is progressing well, we're having fun, and then it's like I've got to break into a goddamned bank vault. What's wrong with snaps? Or buttons? Velcro -- this is a very good reason for the military to make noiseless, very high performance velcro.

The debits are on the side of the room with the windows.

I can't throw anymore. This one came out of nowhere. I picked up a rock one afternoon, to throw at a mockingbird (which is The Correct Thing To Do; mockers are mean, I can give you chapter and verse) to throw at a mocker on a telephone or electric wire and I didn't even clear the wire, and my aim was totally off, to boot. I picked up another rock -- as bad or worse. And a few days ago I decided to see if it was as bad as it was and damned if it isn't. This, to me, is amazing. How did I lose the ability to chunk a flippin' rock? Always I could throw long, and accurate, too. I wasn't a major league right fielder but I could get something on it when I threw something, and get it close to where I wanted it, whether it was a baseball or a spark plug or a golf ball or whatever. I've got to start throwing again. Maybe it'll be like pushups, they were *gone* and through use I've got them back.

You want to learn to ride a bicycle using clips IE clipped into your pedals using clips on the bottom of your shoes? You are going to go down, *hard*, at least once, and it's going to be ridiculous, probably there will be many people around. At least that's what happened to me. And still, 20 years later, I figure on going down at least once a year due to clips. (I maybe go down 6 times a year overall, depending on where I'm riding.) But riding with clips gives you 40% more power, definitely worth it. My legs and elbows but my legs in particular and most particularly from knees on down look like a battleground from World War One, all craters and pock-marks and scabs and often bleeding from rocks thrown off my front tire if right after a ride and discolorations and rough spots etc and etc. Shorts are pretty much The Official Uniform in Austin but not for me, I don't go to like parties or restaurants etc wearing shorts, people are all like "WTF?" if/when they see my legs, but really it's alright because I'm tall with skinny legs and knobby knees and I look like a dope in shorts anyways so what-evs, it's jeans and boots unless I'm on the bicycle or swimming.

I have never owned a motorcycle. Here's why: Every time I have ridden a motorcycle it's the best, the wind in my hair, the sun, it's just perfect fun and I look down and I am doing 85-90 mph. I love speed. I hate helmets. Pretty much everyone I know who rides tell me that they've put the bike down at least once. I am absolutely positive I would absolutely love to have a fast motorcycle, and I am absolutely positive I would die on it, too. Nope.

I fell on a construction site when I was a freshman in high school and couldn't do construction work for a while, got a job as a dishwasher in a local restaurant, then bus boy, ended up a cook. It was a fun gig, actually, once I was a cook. The restaurant was along the lines of a Denny's. I could hold four eggs, two in each hand, and crack them in the pan, I could go sunny side up or flip them in the pan, just exactly like you'd want to for over easy. Now? I can't even crack an egg with just one hand, much less two in either or both hands.

I've known people that can throw knives and stick them in trees or a piece of wood. Hell of a talent. Tried and tried, even with throwing knives, made special for that purpose. Never happened, never gonna happen.

I can swim but it's ugly, my head out of the water, I'm pretty sure that my swimming would be the signal that a shark listens for to tell it that the object swimming is crippled or however that works. There are so many swimming pools and swimming holes and just all around swimming opportunities here that I ought to learn, and this one I'm pretty sure I *could* learn, not like dancing. Haven't learned it yet...
posted by dancestoblue at 12:51 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


A long time ago my mom told me the "right" way to tie my shoes that wasn't bunny-ears, and then at some point I forgot and went back to bunny ears, and now I do double bunny ears so that my shoes never, ever come untied.

Wait, you aren't supposed to use the bunny ears method?
posted by SisterHavana at 12:52 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I'm an East-West hesitator. I have to pause and picture a map in my head before I speak. I've gotten so the pause is relatively short, but the shorter I make it, the more I screw up and say the wrong one.

Bras: I could never put it on and hook it in the back, but until recently I could take it off that way (my shoulders are no longer happy doing this). I have to do the spinny-around thing, which makes bra shopping an ordeal with my sensitive skin and all the starch they put in those things. After three bras I'm raw and have to abort the mission. I now buy bras online.

I understand the whole putting-it-over-your-head thing, and I presume you pause pulling it down when the strap is just above the boobs and then gently pull the strap down with one hand while easing a boob into its cup with the other hand, and repeat for the other side. Not so much stretching as it would be if you just went the whole way at once.

For Magic Eye pictures, I am good at those, but I always see them inverted in the depth sense. I see the silhouette of whatever pushed into the page, instead of popped-out. Not sure how instructions for those things are usually transmitted, but I just cross my eyes and then slowly let them un-cross. Maybe I'm doing it wrong?

I can only deal cards left-handed, although I am right-handed for almost everything else.
posted by cats are weird at 1:35 AM on August 10


Any sports that involve a ball. I blame the mean girl in fourth grade because before that I wasn't too bad at soccer.

I thought I couldn't dive, till my daughter was two, and I asked her grandmother to hold her for ten minutes while I swam a few laps. Daughter dove into the deep end, I dove down to find her while everyone was screaming. Put her back up to grandma, who let her go again, repeat everything. This is why many people find mothers-in-law disagreeable. But I now know I can swim under water with open eyes if I really need to. And my daughter swims like a fish.
(About floating on your back: you need salty ocean water, you don't need to swim).

For a long while I couldn't eat food with my hands, like burgers or (other) sandwiches. I'm improving on that, but it's still not comfortable. I choke and spill. My dad was very strict about manners and I guess he trained every ounce of natural instinct out me. (In Northern Europe, when I was a kid 50 years ago, eating with your fingers was restricted to artichokes and sweet corn on the cob, I strongly remember him explaining that to me). My mum had a completely different attitude, but dad prevailed.
posted by mumimor at 2:30 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


I got a new job that involved a medical clearance process that included a lung function test. Basically, filling your lungs with air and blowing into a tube. I could not do it! Despite multiple attempts and a kind nurse encouraging me with "blow like you're blowing out candles on a birthday cake!" all I could do was some weird short huff with hardly any air coming out.
posted by emd3737 at 4:03 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I can't do a lot of things because I'm left handed, thanks world

It is impossible for me to cut with scissors unless I have left-handed scissors

Also unrelated: I cannot drive a stick shift


On the bright side, we lefties don't live as long
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:49 AM on August 10


> I SUCK, SUCK, SUCK at ironing.

Ironing is the one household task I absolutely refuse to do; I'd rather donate something to charity than attempt to iron it (I do own a steamer, and have used it a few times). Accordingly, I have arranged my life in such a way that I very rarely have to wear clothing that is a) formal and/or b) has been ironed.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:57 AM on August 10


Not being able to tell left and right is a learning disability called directional dyslexia. I cannot tell left and right to save my life and finally learned this term last year. How bad are my left-right skills? Well - I'm ambidextrous, so there's none of this which hand do you use for... shit, because who knows. In high school my friends helpfully wrote LEFT and OTHER LEFT on the toes of my Cons. In learning other languages, I often cannot keep the words for left and right clear - I know both words, but which is which? Who cares, they're meaningless words anyway and nothing I can do will sort them out despite my otherwise fantastic ability with languages. All of this "oh one hand makes an L" shit is not helpful, because both of them make the same shape. I have two earrings on one side and five on the other, I have tattoos, I limp on the leg I got shot in, none of these things help me remember because it's a learning disability and here in my 40s the idea that I haven't already heard a thousand mnemonics for little kids is ridiculous - if they were going to work, they'd have worked before now.

Things I can't do -

I cannot whistle, or roll or curl my tongue
I can't spin pens
I can't see magic eye pictures
I can't play 3D video games because they are about five minutes to severe nausea
I can't dive
and worst of all, I cannot remember names worth shit. Did you tell me your name a few minutes ago? Yeah, it's gone, sorry.

It's interesting to me that while I struggled with burning my rice before getting a rice cooker, as I've learned to make Indian and Middle Eastern rice-with-stuff dishes, I can make biryani and various pilafs just fine on the stovetop without burning anything. I still wouldn't just make plain rice on the stovetop, though. That's why I have a goddamn rice cooker.

Also I can hook my bra in back just fine. Adjusting to wearing bras was awkward, and trying to shop for them is hell, but I can put them on.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:05 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]


> It matters which way you wrap the loop. The wrong way and your shoe laces eventually come untied, but the right way and they never do.

You want to tie a double-slipped square knot, not a double-slipped grannie knot. I find i can only finish the knot one way, so the initial wrap is what differentiates them.
posted by Horselover Fat at 9:11 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Never learned to ride a bike. I hated every minute of trying. Bike seats are uncomfortable. I don't get how they stay up. Fuck this.

I am ridiculously bad at trying to light fires.

I can't clean glass. Neither my own glasses nor the car windshield. I suck at squeegee.

I can't swallow pills whole.

I did finally learn to drive though, so there's that!
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:55 AM on August 10


Left/Right difficulty is extremely common. I do not have an innate sense of Left/Right,which makes dancing challenging. There's stuff here I can do, and that makes me feel less annoyed at my body.

Bra hooks behind my back, nope. I buy my bras when my preferred brand is on sale, front closure is fine, but maybe 5% of bras in my size range have that, and may not be on sale or fit.

I missed it in school somehow so as a young child, I didn't know the names for purple and orange, and it was odd, and it took me a while to stop being mad at those colors.

I will iron for you if you will vacuum for me. Nature and I both abhor a vacuum.

I can't paint the nails on my right hand, but this is not actually an issue.
posted by theora55 at 10:53 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Ooo. Serendipitous nirvanacombo of the thread:

Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8BzByjH4q0 (Martin Sheen putting on jackets) while listening to this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIAOG9nhrt8 (dreamy gorgeous velvetundergroundyamazingness).

Also, and this is gross, how do you spit? I mean the thing where people can fire forth whatever is in their mouths neatly in a like pellet--whether they're working with a liquid or a solid. So they spit out a loogie and it's like they're spitting out a marble, and it hits whatever they've aimed it at with real impact. I have no idea how to do that. I can't spit neatly and with confidence and conviction like that. It's a sloppy, drooly low-energy mess every time and I hate it. Has anybody who knows how to do it analyzed the process sufficiently to explain it? I would love to learn before I die.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:30 AM on August 10


directional dyslexia
How come it don't count as normal when so many people can't do it?
I'll tell you another weird thing, if we're in a car and I'm giving directions and I've explained about the left right thing and how I'm going to be saying 'turn to my side', or 'turn to your side', how come it's so hard for them to get that, eh? That looks more like a learning disability to me, I explained it clearly and then I did exactly what I said I was going to, what got in the way of them understanding?

I've been to youtube to look at the instructions for whistling through your fingers and it looks like you have to push your tongue upwards at the tip. So I guess if you can't furl your tongue that way you won't be doing the loud whistling either. This is a disappointment. One of my daughters specialises in that piercing whistle.

I was 12 before I could tell the time and that's before digital clocks were heard of in my neck of the woods. I've a friend who's sure I must be dyslexic but then I've been reading and writing voraciously since I was quite small. And for all the left and right confusion I can look at a picture or photograph and instantly know which way is up and where the viewpoint of the image is in relation to the horizon. Perception: a land of contrasts.
posted by glasseyes at 11:53 AM on August 10


I have no idea how to do that.
This is for the best
posted by glasseyes at 11:55 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


directional dyslexia
How come it don't count as normal when so many people can't do it?


I don't think people who can tell left from right just fine and casually glance at analog clocks all the time start Twitter threads about that. But yeah, it would be cool to see if there's any actual research on what's most common.
posted by Vesihiisi at 11:59 AM on August 10


Also, and this is gross, how do you spit?

I can't claim the best technique, but I have a technique:

Hork your loogie to the back of your throat/tongue. Roll your tongue and stick it out slightly, then start breathing out forcefully. Once you have a good airstream, pull your tongue back (still rolled). The airflow shouldn't have been strong enough to propel the loogie, until the tip of your tongue crosses somewhere in the vicinity of your lips. Then something about the restriction shoots the loogie out, with your tongue acting as sort of a guide.

Lots of people seem to use that technique, because there's a part that's visible (the rolled tongue sticking out) that was my clue as a kid how to make it work. Incidentally, that same inner child got a real kick out of typing out this description.

Hee hee, "loogie".
posted by traveler_ at 12:05 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


One of my friends claim that people with directional dyslexia are more creative. She is very creative, I'll giver her that.
posted by mumimor at 12:07 PM on August 10


To spit something solid-ish, it goes on the tip of your tongue and you purse your lips and blow... and move your tongue forward as if to plug the hole. As your tongue moves forward and up confining the airflow through the top of your mouth, eventually the thing is plugging the way and gets blown out like a cork.

Being a water baby and in the backyard pool from childhood through dive/swim team and Red Cross instructor certification and lifeguard certification... the sink or float thing as sjswitzer said is density. Air and fat float, bones and muscle sink. You can have so much buoyancy from fat that even if you empty your lungs as much as you can you still float, or have so little fat that even if you have your lungs full you still sink. Or you might be in the middle where you float as long as you have full lungs, but you can empty them and sink. Otherwise you have to swim to sink or float.

(The twist is a combination of initial small rotation gained from dragging one foot on the board and pushing the other in the opposite direction for small values. The fast twist is converting the angular momentum of the flip into a twist by unbalancing how you bring your arms in, one high, one low, which imparts a gyroscopic torque and you go a bit off angle. Then you have to undo it and convert the twist back into flip before entry.)

cats are weird, you are correct. There are cross-eyed stereograms that work for what you are doing, focusing your eyes between the surface and your face. The Magic Eyes (and most stereograms) are the opposite, you focus behind the image. A good trick is to hold something up behind the image at about 2x the distance and focus on that. People might also find it easier to practice with the side-by-side stereograms where there are two images (duh, side by side) and you relax your gaze until the third 3d image appears in the middle.

For Magic Eye, even maybe those who can never see them for reasons, check out Easy Stereogram Builder for an idea of what it's all about. It's just a depth mapped model (often like these) where light is closer and dark is further away. If you can't see them, you're not really missing much.

I still think the Left/RIght people would do well to try and do sock puppets on each hand named Lefty and RIghty and let them bicker and joke back and forth like Abbot and Costello or Punch and Judy. Lefty and Righty crack me up sometimes arguing over who has to press the most keys to make a post and which one of them gets slept on the most, who has to hit the alarm clock and who's going to get control of the remote. They're both bastards.

For the arithmetic challenged, go hard core and get a middle-school age focused book on simple math tricks. In middle school it was genius wizardry, at your age it's simple quick aha! things.

I can't do the two finger whistle and I've tried for 50 years, lost cause. And I'm rather pleased at the number of people who aren't very tidy... I just leave my shirts in a flat pile on the floor, I have two good closets with nothing in them but things on the shelf. Bless This Mess. I'll forget I have it if it gets put away, or forget where I put it and have to search everywhere.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:24 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Seriously the directional dyslexia is the thing that intrigues me the most. There was a Meta thread about it a while back. It's possible in my mind as to be a thing in deep brain navigation function.

Because Up/Down is gravity, Front/Back is vision, Left/Right is just arbitrary. Everything seems to come to pass because of the general biological majority preference for one side to be dominant. Maybe because of the symmetry breaking in our internal organs or something.

I would really like to see MRI studies or something like that.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:34 PM on August 10


I, too, am directionally dyslexic and have always referred to my condition as such -- and never knew it was a real thing. And here I thought I coined the phrase.
posted by y2karl at 1:00 PM on August 10


Here in the area where our family farm is, old people consistently use cardinal directions instead of relative, and to some degree I can switch if I'm talking with them, I can find north 80% of the time, but I do get confused sometimes. Those of you who can't find left and right, can you find north?
posted by mumimor at 1:03 PM on August 10


North and South have been reversed for me ever since I moved to Seattle in 1967. I know which is which now intellectually but instinctually, I am living in New Zealand.
posted by y2karl at 1:28 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I am extremely confused about left and right, but I usually know the cardinal directions. I don't "find" them per se, in the actual physical environment (i.e. I can't do it by analysing where the sun is), but I visualize a map of the area and that's how I know. I can do that even if I'm in a new place if I had a chance to have a quick look at the map beforehand.
posted by Vesihiisi at 1:42 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I wonder if there's some very specific neurological deficit involved, like not being able to tell your left from your right

My dad had a stroke. Mentally he seems pretty close to the same as before, which is to say incredibly clever, except he says "right" when he means left, and vice versa, every single time.
posted by waving at 2:44 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I read an interesting book about handedness which, if I can remember the argument ... we orient ourselves through asymmetry or something, and contrary to appearances we are not bilaterally symmetrical - brain, balls, intestines, liver, heart etc - boobs - the slight differences in sensation between one side and another are what we use to orient ourselves in space. Obviously we have no vertical axis of symmetry and no one gets confused about up or down! Anyhow I think he conjectured that the people who have less difference in their right and left brain function (I don't know if the brain function divide is still thought to be valid?) are the people who find it harder to differentiate left and right.

Right Hand, Left Hand by Chris MacManus
. He talked about twins, symmetry, handedness, physics; left-handed atoms and/or molecules and left-turning cosmic gyres; what the possible evolutionary advantages of left handedness might be, and the very strong human cultural bias towards binary thinking, like, if one thing is good, it must have an opposite and that opposite must be bad. Oh, and some people do have their organs reversed but there's no correlation between that and identical twins, nor is there any between identical twins and them both being different handed. It was an amazing book, and while I was reading it, I was sure I understood everything he was saying! I always thought it was interesting, with that book title, that his name was MacManus.
posted by glasseyes at 2:56 PM on August 10


I cannot braid my own hair in two braids. One braid, sure. Two, no way. (I had short hair as a kid and despised "girly" stuff. I never practiced this on anyone else or on Barbies.) Related, but even more rudimentary: I cannot part my hair straight down the middle.

I also cannot play chess. Like, I know how the pieces move, and what the object of the game is, but every. single. time. I end up in checkmate wondering WTF has been happening for the last 20 minutes.
posted by BrashTech at 2:56 PM on August 10


mumimor, about your question: do you mean just automatically know where north is, like a bee, or know where north is because it's past noon and the sun's slanting into your eyes from the left (in which case north is the direction you are facing)?
posted by glasseyes at 3:00 PM on August 10


Well, as I understand it, the old people here automatically know where north is, and when I am here, I do too when it rains and in total darkness in December. When I am in an unfamiliar place I don't always, but often I do. I don't know about those old people, some of them are sailors.
posted by mumimor at 3:07 PM on August 10


well I do know where west is, in the area I've lived in for 20 years, because I know where the sunset is anywhere in the locality because I've got the memories of it. I mean, I wonder if the old people were transplanted to somewhere totally different, where they didn't have any landmarks, would they still know where north is? If the whole sea and sky and light were different-looking?

Actually now I see you answered the question already
posted by glasseyes at 3:12 PM on August 10


Good question! I'll ask next time I see one of them.
posted by mumimor at 3:13 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I don't think people who can tell left from right just fine and casually glance at analog clocks all the time start Twitter threads about that
Yeah but by gee they never shut up about how other people are weird for not doing that! Oh, can't you tell the time? Oh, what do you mean, my side? Do you mean Left?? Wankers.
posted by glasseyes at 3:24 PM on August 10


i want to know more about these elderly farming sailors
posted by poffin boffin at 3:43 PM on August 10


i want to know more about these elderly farming sailors
I promise I'll get back, but probably not before Monday night. It's not that unusual in regions on the Atlantic, where neither farming or fishing were enough to live by. Ambitious young men would get hire on ships, and then return when they were middle aged either to take over the family farm or to buy their own. Heck, I even know a couple of guys like that who are my own age (of 55). My brother went to sea when he was a kid, but only for a year and while he does live on a farm, it's not his living at all. I don't know anyone younger than him.
posted by mumimor at 3:52 PM on August 10


How come it don't count as normal when so many people can't do it?

Ableism.
posted by bile and syntax at 4:13 PM on August 10


I live in the U.S. and was horribly confused by the directions when visiting New Zealand. Something about the Sun moving the wrong way through the sky, the Moon being upside-down, just played screwballs with my subconscious tracking of where everything was positioned in the world. It was weird, and literally dis-orienting.
posted by traveler_ at 8:51 PM on August 10


Yeah but by gee they never shut up about how other people are weird for not doing that! Oh, can't you tell the time? Oh, what do you mean, my side? Do you mean Left?? Wankers.

That's horrible. If it's of any consolation, I've had the opposite experience – someone was complaining that they had talked to a 12 year old who couldn't read the clock, OMG kids these days, they just stare into their phones and civilization is doomed, right? I pointed out that I can't read the clock either, despite belonging to the same generation as the complainer and having received comprehensive snapchat-free schooling, so maybe it's not about the age but about people being different? That did actually shut them up.
posted by Vesihiisi at 10:49 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Rolling my r's! So many people have tried to teach me over the years. I took years of Spanish, and at one point was very conversant, but embarrassingly could never, ever roll my r's.

I used to be a "clasp bra in the front" person, but then I went down the rabbit hole of r/abrathatfits, and they convinced me that you shouldn't be able to do that with a bra that has a properly fitting band. Now I'm a clasp in the back all the way person. (It probably helps that I have relatively long arms for my height and decent spatial awareness.)

I also am another can't whistle loudly person. It took me a long time to master even a barely audible whistle. The odd thing is I played the flute for years, and I was even fairly good at it. I'd think some of those skills would transfer to whistling, but no, apparently not.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:37 AM on August 11


Oh, and I also never learned to French braid my hair. I can barely even do regular type braids. I'm super jealous of people who are capable of doing that with their own hair. (I also have very thin, fine hair, so braids tend to look kind of bad on me anyway, because the braid just ends up being so puny.) I once tried to learn how to do a French twist. I was unsuccessful.

Basically, I can do a ponytail, and I can straighten my hair. That's it.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:42 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


twisting it around your torso after fastening in the front will also affect its fit in the long term.

What are you talking about? My waist is smaller than my braline. I fasten it around my waist, and it is not snug, then turn it around- while it is still loose- and then put my arms in the straps and pull it up into position at my braline where it is snug. This in no way stretches the band.

I'm also totally baffled by people saying that fastening their bras in the front somehow abrades their skin when they turn it to the back... This makes no sense to me. It shouldn't be snug until it's in the position you'll be wearing it in.

I can fasten my bra in the back but I can't figure out why I would want to. It's so fiddly and awkward. In fact it never even occured to me that this was something people did until I had a massage client complain to me that her shoulder pain was preventing her from putting on her bra. I couldn't figure out what she was talking about.

Pulling a regular bra on overhead would stretch the band all to heck, though, plus it would just feel weird with the underwires twisting around in the wind. I suspect I'd end up with it inside out somehow, or something.
posted by windykites at 11:46 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


I'm also totally baffled by people saying that fastening their bras in the front somehow abrades their skin when they turn it to the back... This makes no sense to me. It shouldn't be snug until it's in the position you'll be wearing it in.

And yet my exact experience—as already mentioned—is that the sensation of twisting a fastened bra around my torso is horrible. This is not something I'm making up to have something to comment about. If your experience is that a structured garment attached to an elasticated band dragging across your skin as you tug it around and up into position is not bothersome then by all means continue.
posted by sarahw at 12:31 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Also consider that people's bodies have very different shapes. What works fine for one may be impossible for another.
posted by mbrubeck at 1:03 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


I used to be a "clasp bra in the front" person, but then I went down the rabbit hole of r/abrathatfits, and they convinced me that you shouldn't be able to do that with a bra that has a properly fitting band.

If "a properly fitting band" is one so tight you can't slide it around your torso, I don't want a properly fitting bra (and apparently I have never had one.) What are the supposed advantages of this super-tight "properly fitting" bra and how could they be worth making wearing a bra even more uncomfortable than it already is? My bras don't have a lot of obviously loose material and I don't think their fit would be noticeably weird to anyone looking at what they could see through my shirt. I have zero motivation to start wearing anything tighter.

Pulling a regular bra on overhead would stretch the band all to heck, though, plus it would just feel weird with the underwires twisting around in the wind.

I have never in my life worn a bra with underwires. I have quite a few bras that don't have clasps and have to be pulled on overhead. And it seems to work just fine. For some reason I've never tried doing that with a bra that has clasps, but it seems like a reasonable approach.
posted by Redstart at 1:34 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Redstart, I assume you're talking about sports bras or casual bralette/shelf type bras? I was trying to differentiate away from those, since they're designed to be pulled on my understanding was that they are a bit more elastic and less structured than a traditional brassiere that requires clasps.

I mentally liken it to the difference between a t-shirt and a tailored shirt with buttons. I mean, if pulling them on works for someone else that's great but I'm sure I'd end up hurting myself or destroying the garment somehow.

I totally agree with you about band tightness, though. Some of the descriptons I'm hearing, like the one you mentioned about fit, make bra-wearing sound really dreadful. It seems like there must be bras out there that are digging inches deep into the flesh or something- personally, I'll pass. I can't even handle wearing leggings for a prologed period of time; I hate feeling constricted.
posted by windykites at 1:50 PM on August 11


This morning I tried to put on a bra by reaching around and clasping it and I gave up quickly and was annoyed by anyone here who says it’s the superior way because I’m physically incapable of doing it. That’s bullshit and also comes with a hearty dose of ableism. People are shaped differently and that changes even based on position! I’ve been measured in a couple specialty bra shops and told I wear either a 38 J/I (not sure why the cup sizes varied so much between fittings and don’t care honestly) but I think when sitting down I’d be like a 42-44 band size because that’s just how my body redistributes the fat. What’s comfortable and supportive when standing is excruciating when sitting. When my bra fits in the way that I’m told it should — center underwire flat to my chest, etc, I can’t stand wearing it for more than few minutes.

This year I finally bought a soft bra from TomboyX and realized I could be comfortable and pretty well supported without pain. I’ve been wearing a bra since first grade and this is the first comfortable bra I’ve ever had.

This “how to put on a bra” discussion reminds me of how people say they reach around to wipe themselves after a bowel movement instead of through their legs. I absolutely cannot reach and cannot fathom how that works. But I get the job done! Some people use a mobility aid to wipe, that’s cool too! Some folks need an assistant, also cool! So however you put on your bra sounds great to me. Also: a properly fitting bra is code for perky boobs, isn’t it? Why should that be the goal for every boob haver?

In another news, I once had a full blown panic attack when my ex tried to make me play cards with her extended family when I had only just met them because I don’t know how to shuffle a deck of cards. I am so grateful to hear I’m not the only one!

I can whistle really well though, which I attribute to my unabashed love of ska music. Whistling along with the trombones as a teenager honed my skills.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 1:59 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


I assume you're talking about sports bras or casual bralette/shelf type bras?

Yep. But my bras with clasps aren't that different in terms of fabric or stretchiness. Really the main difference is just that they have clasps. I just tried clasping one and pulling it over my head and it worked fine and didn't feel like it was stretching it any more than fastening it in front and sliding it around.
posted by Redstart at 2:01 PM on August 11


And then of course I took it off immediately because I hate, hate, hate wearing a bra and never wear one if I don't have to.
posted by Redstart at 2:03 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


I had a conversation once with Gerald Ford, he said the thing he couldn't do was walk and chew gum at the same time.

When I asked Trump, the simple answer was "tell the truth", he quickly followed it up with "giving a shit".....

Me.... I can't snap my fingers but I can do EVERYTHING else.
posted by HuronBob at 2:08 PM on August 11


they convinced me that you shouldn't be able to do that with a bra that has a properly fitting band.

Honestly a lot of "advice" from communities like that can be dogmatic and not entirely correct. This might be true for some people, but not for all.

It depends on your shape and comfort. My (good) bras are properly fitted. I know a lot about bras because I'm an uncommon size, I've been properly fitted by experts multiple times, I know the signs of a badly fitting versus a well fitting bra. And so on and so forth. They are properly fitted.

I fasten my bras in the front because it's easier for me. I just do it lower on my torso, where I'm narrower, and then move the bra up to my breasts once I've turned it around. Works great! No problems at all. But if I were to listen to places like /r/abrathatfits they would tell me it means my band size is too big, which is just wrong.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:29 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


When I was young and pickier about food, my father would look down on me with a twinkle in his eye and scold me with:
"If you don't eat your crusts, you'll never learn to whistle!"
I never took it at all seriously, and I think I even knew it was part of a repertoire of silly things an aunt of his used to say.

But to this day every time I see a Grown-Ass Adult who leaves sandwich crusts on the plate uneaten, I'll pull out this line.

To the last, each one has looked at me with surprise and asked
"Wait, did we already have a conversation about how I can't whistle??"
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 4:49 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]


Now I'd like to talk about my mother. She was very concerned that I get down all of the little essential life skills like these. In our religion, the things you did with the right hand were important and you dared not do things in reverse. So she taught me from a very young age to imagine people facing me not as a mirror but as a rotation of my own body. I still confuse people by actually pointing to the right side of my face when they've got something on their right side.

I also went a long time before learning how to lace my shoes properly. Part of this is that I was a young lad as velcro shoes went on the market for kids and I had buckles on my "saltwater sandals". But I remember being so frustrated with how opaque everyone's description of the lace-tying algorithm was. I'd get as far as the overhand knot, the making of one loop, and then they'd just say "then pull it through" as though that explained anything. Even Sesame Street did this! It wasn't until my mother noticed that I was doing an overhand knot with two loops (the "bunny ears" method) that she sat me down and showed me slowly enough that I could work out what i was doing wrong.

Finally, reading clock faces was another source of confusion. I could work out times on the hour and half hour and so on, but at one point I'd had this revelation. "Oh!" I said to my godmother, "for the minute hand, you multiply by five!!" She looked at me like I had a bird on my head and basically said "I don't think so, dear." I believed her for far too long after that. It wasn't until I actually sat in front of a large clock face at school that had the four tick-marks between the numbers that I realised I'd been had.

I'd still like to learn to do the two-finger whistle, but it's not a big deal.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 4:57 PM on August 11


Oh also I was 30 before I moved to London and everyone acted like I was incompetent because I couldn't carry five pint glasses in my hands without a tray. I learned that one pretty quickly, all told.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 4:59 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]


Can't ride a bike, can ride a skateboard (nearly -- still learning), can barely more than not swim. Can snap my fingers, but not very loud, so I accentuate it by doing finger-guns. Can whistle fairly well, can't carry a tune. I tie my shoelaces bunny-bunny.

I very recently started to be able to see Magic Eyes, but they're designed so visually noisy that, although I can see that a shape is floating there, I have to concentrate really hard to work out what it is the shape of. Here's the progression that got me this far:
1. Cross your eyes.
2. You know the trick in old activity books for little kids called "the floating finger"? You point your two index fingers at each other, not quite touching, and then cross your eyes a bit. It looks like there's a third, double-nailed finger floating between your two fingers.
3. Find one of those "Spot the differences between these two pictures" puzzle, where the pictures are side-by-side. Do the floating finger trick, but cross your eyes more until the two pictures overlap perfectly into a single picture in the middle. You can now solve the puzzle by looking for parts of the picture that are oddly translucent because they only appear in one of the source images.
4. Find some side by side stereoscopic photographs (you can search that phrase on google images). Do the previous trick. Once you get the middle image locked, you should see it in 3d. It takes a little practice to get it to lock such that your eyes auto-adjust and keep the image when you move your head.
5. You are now ready to try a magic eye. The hard part is that you don't have the solid cue of two images combining into a third, so you have to work on it until it clicks, but the feeling is the same.
posted by rifflesby at 5:00 PM on August 11


I know a trick for carrying six pint glasses without a tray, but if they aren't empty I'm gonna have my finger in your beer.
posted by rifflesby at 5:05 PM on August 11


I continue to practice the two-finger whistle. I can now do it loud enough to annoy my son, who is on the sofa across the room, but am not yet loud enough to wake up the cat, who is sleeping next to him. My work continues.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:06 PM on August 11 [4 favorites]


My best friend is very adept at the two-finger whistle, and now I don't want to learn it, because boy howdy do I not want to expose anyone else to experience of standing next to someone when they do it.
posted by invitapriore at 5:19 PM on August 11


The magic-eye thing is kind of odd. Everyone always says "cross your eyes", but the reality is the opposite.

Your eyes are always slightly crossed to converge on a point you're focusing on. The trick to "magic eye" posters is to uncross your eyes, and just zone out and stare into the distance. Imagine that the sheet is not there, and you're gazing off onto the horizon behind that. Eventually you'll hit the convergence point where the registration marks line up and you can scan down and see the image.

People actually crossing their eyes may be part of the problem with trying to see the things.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 5:54 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]


Are they not stereoscopic in the same way sbs 3d photos are? Hmm that might explain why I have trouble seeing the whole shape at the same time.
posted by rifflesby at 6:03 PM on August 11


Today my partner mentioned sewing as a skill he wished he had, and I was really surprised that that hadn't come up here!

For me, similarly: knitting/crocheting. I've never gotten it into muscle memory, so every time I try am always starting anew and I give up in frustration before I make any substantial progress. I envy my friends who can whip up a scarf like magic, and I absolutely cherish the afghans & hats my mother has made for me.
posted by Westringia F. at 6:49 PM on August 11


Inspired by this thread, I decided to attempt once more to learn to roll my r's. I started working through the exercises on this page. Made it all the way to "Lesson 2" only to discover that I also am incapable of making my lips do that "brrr" thing. Even though the lesson is all, "We're starting with this thing, because everyone can do this!"

So that's something else I can't do, apparently. And my r's seem destined never to be rolled.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:08 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


If you want to learn to ride a bike, then don't listen to anything anyone ever tells you about "the right way" to ride. Just get out to a park or someplace low-stress, make sure your brakes work, lower the seat down to where you feel confident and safe that your feet are on the ground, and just walk it around the place for a while.

Eventually you'll find the confidence to keep your feet off the ground between pushes for a split-second or two, and you'll get the hang of steering into the way you're tilting to "catch" yourself and straighten out. It'll be wobbly, but that's basically all there is to riding a bike, but it's less wobbly when you go faster.

Getting all that done means that the next step is moving by pedalling instead of pushing off the ground. That'll be a coordination struggle for a bit, but totally not as hard as if you were trying to learn balancing-through-steering for the first time while also having to pedal.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 11:25 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


Can confirm that you don't need to expect to fall when learning to ride a bike as an adult. Since posting this comment with some resources for learning to bike as an adult, I assisted with a learn-to-bike class our local advocacy group held for women, and nobody at all fell down! There are a lot of other good answers to that question, too.

Plus there are plenty of options for cycling that aren't the usual sort of bicycle. If balancing is not an option, trikes are a thing, both upright ones and recumbent. If the usual sorts of saddles don't work for you, recumbent bikes and trikes allow cycling while sitting in what's basically a regular chair.

Anyway, don't give up if cycling is something that interests you. There are better techniques for learning than training wheels or having someone hold the back of your saddle.
posted by asperity at 8:58 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


What are the supposed advantages of this super-tight "properly fitting" bra and how could they be worth making wearing a bra even more uncomfortable than it already is?

I used to have this same low view of bras before I finally got some that were the right size. Too big is as uncomfortable as too small. If your bra is uncomfortable, you are wearing the wrong size.
posted by bile and syntax at 12:26 PM on August 12


Can we stop telling people they are wearing the wrong bra or putting it on wrong? Every body is different and even a professional fitter sold me an ill fitting bra. I have no issue with turning mine around after fastening, but I believe people who do find it difficult or uncomfortable. Maybe people can believe those of us who turn it around without resulting in a ruined, stretched out band?
posted by soelo at 1:15 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


The trick for fastening a bra behind your back is where you put your thumbs on the fasteners. Put each thumb centered on and just touching the metal parts. Then when you reach behind, touch your thumbs. The parts will be very close to each other. Focus on one, then the other will follow.

Bra game. Changed.

(I didn't feel like anyone was telling me I was doing it wrong or anyone cares how anyone else puts on a bra. I've just been doing the wrap around method for four decades and it succcccks in humid weather. Now I have a plan B for August!)

Still have never magic eyed the magic eye thing.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:41 PM on August 12


And for what it's worth for magic eye learners: some are easier than others. Like there are some I can merely glance at and the depth effect just jumps right out at me and some I look at for a solid minute before I see anything and I still never quite make the whole image resolve.
posted by Kyol at 1:44 PM on August 12


One thing about magic eye is that once you get good at it you might find yourself doing it to regular things, such as mosaic tiled floors, out of habit. I haven't looked at a magic eye in years but I will still unconsciously try to magic eye things.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:42 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


You know what the magic eye technique is wizard for? Doing those find the difference puzzles (objects that don't appear in both images appear shimmery in the composite). I've got lots of magic eye practice because the same technique is used to free view parallel view stereo photos which I take. I impressed the hell out of one of my nephews by being able to just glance at a find the difference puzzle and tell him the objects he was missing.
posted by Mitheral at 12:01 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


The problem I have with Magic Eye is that you need depth perception. As my eyes are misaligned, and I essentially don't see out of my left eye, I'm completely unable to see the damn sailboat or whatever is in there.
posted by SansPoint at 12:39 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


It's not a sailboat, it's a schooner!
posted by soelo at 1:58 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


@still_wears_a_hat, if you're still reading:

Ocular dominance

Your eyes are cross-dominant, which is why you're having a brutal time learning aim.

For darts, normally right handed people are dominant in their right eye. They bring the dart back towards their right eye, and then throw it. Cross-dominant right handed people have a stronger *left* eye, so you bring the dart towards your left eye, then throw it.
posted by talldean at 6:27 PM on August 13


Skate or skateboard.
posted by xtian at 4:10 PM on August 14 [3 favorites]


"We're starting with this thing, because everyone can do this!"

Ah yes. A Japanese textbook, explaining how to make the r/l sound, paraphrased: "Make a LLL sound. Notice where your tongue is on the roof of your mouth. Now make a RRR sound. Notice where your tongue is on the roof of your mouth. Now put your tongue at the midpoint of those two points..." Cue extreme confusion, because making a RRR sound doesn't involve my tongue at all, just teeth and lower lip. I wondered at the time if it was related to the fact that my dialect of English is non-rhotic.

I never mastered the r/l, and I can't roll R's either, which probably goes without saying.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:00 AM on August 15


I can't drive (because anxiety doesn't go well with driving tests), or swim well enough to dare to go snorkelling without a lifejacket, or work out which way is north - unless the sun's out, or I'm somewhere very familiar and at some point I've noticed where north is. (We've just moved offices and I realise I have no idea which way I'm facing right now.) I know left from right instinctively, I eventually got the hang of Magic Eye though it took a while, I can tie my shoes and read an analogue clock, and I fasten my bra behind my back because it's never occurred to me not to. I can't fold fitted sheets, but since I also don't know how to iron, I'm not sure it really matters much. I have the same problem with crocheting as Westringia F. - I just never get far enough for muscle memory to kick in, so I'm a recurrent beginner.

I only remember which way to turn a screw or a nut by telling myself "clockwise to close".

Apparently I'm not always that great at reading, because I misread mumimor's I don't know about those old people, some of them are sailors as "... some of them are selkies", which put a very different slant on the comment.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:18 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


For screwing/unscrewing things:
1) Point your right thumb in the direction you want the screw (or nut) to go.
2) Your fingers will curl in the direction you need to turn the screw/nut.

For shuffling cards, don't put your thumbs at the corners of the deck where the two halves are merging, put your thumbs back to the other corners. I only figured this out a few years ago.
posted by ShooBoo at 10:13 PM on August 15


I still struggle with left and right.

Math makes me a little panicky. I *can* do it, but if it matters I'm using a computer and I'm double-checking it multiple times.

I can't decide something is important and then remember to just do it on a regular basis. Exercise, dishes, etc.

I suck at cleaning. I rely on checklists from UFYH and youtube tutorials, but mostly a bi-monthly cleaner.

Swimming. I can do a lot of things in the water but that classic swimming thing where you put your face in the water and turn to the side for air .. nope.

Can't whistle. I get a very airy sound.

And apparently I can't relationship. No idea what's up with that. I mean many ideas, but who knows for sure.
posted by bunderful at 5:54 AM on August 16 [2 favorites]


For people who can't clean, there's a show called "How clean is your house?" with many many episodes on youtube. I've been watching it obsessively while I do the mindless parts of my job and it shows you how to clean many things. The episodes in Britain are better than the ones in Canada, which try to sell you Febreze. The Brit ones have cheap-as-dirt recipes made out of "bicarbonate of soda" and "sugar soap" and no brand names or selling.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:47 AM on August 16 [3 favorites]


You know what the magic eye technique is wizard for? Doing those find the difference puzzles (objects that don't appear in both images appear shimmery in the composite).

Wow, that is an amazing technique. I just tried it out and on my dim monitor I can't always see the differences that well but the shimmering areas are where the differences are.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:03 PM on August 16 [2 favorites]


I have watched 2 episodes of "How clean is your house" since reading Don Pepino's comment. I am horrified, fascinated and feeling GREAT about the state of my home.
posted by bunderful at 8:34 PM on August 16 [2 favorites]


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