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What Makes You Weird?

I have a clear memory from when I was nine or ten years old of being in the back seat of a car and looking over to my right. There was a man driving next to us, and he was just staring straight ahead of himself, not looking at me, not doing anything at all but waiting for the light to turn green. But he didn’t look bored. He looked preoccupied. He was thinking about something, but I would never know what it was. I would never know this man. He would never know me. I didn’t matter to him.

It struck me then that I wasn’t the center of the universe (and that I should probably stop trying to be), but also that each person in the world had an internal life that was entirely separate from mine. On the surface, we may be still, but inside our own minds, our thoughts move like ants in a hill, ceaselessly tunneling.

It was a profound moment for me. I imagine that everyone must have this realization, some earlier than others. Perhaps I was late to the game, but thereafter, I became rather interested in the internal worlds of people.

I had a related realization much later, when I was in my twenties and browsing Home Depot. I happened to look at a man and was hit with the idea that he probably really, really enjoyed having sex. I glanced around, saw other men, and knew, just knew, that they all liked it, too. Young and old, hot or not: all of the men in Home Depot love to have sex.

I am now a tad uncomfortable in home improvement stores and sports bars, and yes, if I’m surrounded by men, I invariably can’t help but have the same thought. I’ll usually mumble something about “sausage fests” and try to act totally OK with it, but really, it’s that I’m imagining the internal worlds of the people around me and finding them incredibly raunchy.

This probably says more about me than it does about men. Look, I know that not all men like to have sex. (Seriously, they don’t.) I also know that not all men think about having sex all of the time, or even most of the time. This is one of my quirks, one of the things that happens in my own mind that makes me a very strange person. It’s rather more likely that I am the one thinking about sex, and then imagining all of the people around me DOING it, and Lord, will somebody shut me up now?

I’m obviously a stranger person, which reminds me of another weird thing that goes on in my head when I talk to people: I’m constantly reminding myself to break eye contact. Like, if I’m talking to you, and you notice that I won’t look away, it’s because I’m really interested in you and/or what you’re saying and I’m forgetting to remind myself to look away. That, or you keep looking away, and I figure that you’re doing all the work for me and I don’t need to bother. On the other hand, if I’m talking to you, and I seem to spend more time looking somewhere other than right at your eyeballs, that doesn’t mean I’m shy. It means I’m not interested in the conversation, and/or I’m irritated with you and really want to leave. (Or I’m the host of the party and I’m really worried that we’ve just run out of hard liquor).

I think it’s weird that I have to remind myself to look away from people. Isn’t it just a normal thing that people do, looking away every now and then? Why do I have such trouble doing it? Why do I have to be so weird about something so normal?

And yet, as odd as I know I am, I figure that everyone I talk to has some kind of crazy internal monologue running between their ears, too.

Which is precisely my point: each of us has an internal life that is weird. VERY weird, and some of us more than others. As writers, we often crack jokes about how strange we are, how we’ll see a rolled-up carpet on a sidewalk and imagine a dead body inside, or watch a woman quietly drinking coffee in a cafe and mentally craft the adorable alpha-male lover she is about to meet, whom she will hate on sight but will come to love in the end. (That’s one of the more common weirds among us, I think–imagining a love story everywhere we look.)

We are weird, but so is everyone else, and that’s (partly) why we write. Romance writers, in particular, are interested in the internal worlds of others, and even though many of us are introverts who struggle to gain intimacy with others, particularly new people, that doesn’t decrease our interest in exploring the inner worlds of other humans. (I also believe that writers have particularly interesting internal worlds and write about themselves rather often, but because we seem so darned normal on the outside, no one is the wiser.)

What about you? What totally bizarre unusual thing do you do or think or say that illustrates just how weird interesting of an internal world you have? (See, I’m trying to be inoffensive here. It’s hard for me, but that’s another post).

You know two of mine:

  1. Every time I see a man, I think that he probably likes to have sex. Then I think about penises and testicles and none of it is sexy but all of it is very, VERY strange.
  2. I can’t stop looking into your eyes when I talk to you. Because YOU, dear reader, are fascinating to me.

Which leads to my question: What’s unusual about your internal world? What would make living in YOUR brain different from living in mine? What makes you weird? (Crap; “INTERESTING!”)

 

36 responses to “What Makes You Weird?”

  1. OMG Jamie! We are kindred spirits! I make up stories all the time about people everywhere. On walks I look at the silent houses around me and imagine huge dramas going on inside. And yes – the Home Depot thing – those thoughts hit me sometimes.

    I was at church (of all places) yesterday and an older woman walked into the bathroom where I was washing my hands and I thought “I bet she was hot when she was younger, probably had lots of sex.” Then a young teen walked in and I thought – “Still a virgin”. WHAT!? What was my mind doing?!

    I write historical books mostly, so my mind constantly imagines the world around me centuries ago. The concrete and buildings gone. Tall grasses and trees filled with wildlife. I wonder all the time how different the air must have smelled. Certainly sweeter.

    Then I look at houses and ask myself – if I was to realize that everyone had disappeared suddenly and I was completely alone in the world, what would I do first? Which house would I loot? And then what if I went to Home Depot and met the only remaining person on Earth with me and he was Henry Cavil? How long should I wait before I mention our need to procreate to save the human race (never mind that all my internal girlie parts were removed – he can’t know that)?

    Yes, writers have strange thoughts : ) It’s fun being a writer! Heather

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    • Good God, Heather, where do I begin? 😉

      Kindred spirits, to be sure! Yes, yes, and yes! I find that I get myself in hot water, though, when I try to share my internal world with my husband. I mean, sure, he likes hearing what I think. But sometimes I take it a wee bit too far, you know? Like your Henry Cavil thing. I’m sure your man takes it all with a grain of salt (he seems cool like that), but sometimes, we gotta hold back the dirty bits. Like when I told my husband that I wanted to be famous enough to get on Dancing with the Stars, and he said that was neat, and then I went on to explain that I wanted to do it while I was still young and reasonably hot enough to have a showmance with one of the hot Russians. THAT was taking it too far. He didn’t quite agree with me on that one.

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  2. It is so good to know I’m not alone. My mother constantly tells me I’m weird because I get emotionally involved with the stories I read. I cannot read Nicholas Sparks because he puts me in a blue funk. I love his stories but I can’t handle the depression that follows.

    I have full blown arguments in my head. I expect the worst and play it out in my head and I’m sometimes (often) disappointed that I don’t get to have the fight I’ve planned.

    I see people, hear part of their conversations and decide their background. And yes, I have trouble not imagining strangers sex lives. Our minds are so strange but I’ve learned to embrace my craziness. I just try not to voice my thoughts especially in church or to my mother.

    Thanks for sharing your weirdness. I now feel almost normal or at least normal for a writer.

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    • Sherri, glad I could help! I suspect that most writers are weird like us. And NO, we shouldn’t be sharing our weirdness with our mothers! Or husbands, or wives. I mean, yeah, we gotta open up to those who love us. THIS weirdness is part of what makes us who we are. It’s what makes us interesting and worth knowing. It’s why we’re fun at parties. There’s always something interesting going on in our brains. But as I said to Heather, we can keep some of the dirty bits to ourselves, or maybe just save it for the novels!

      (I can’t read horror. I love it, but it freaks me out waaaay too badly. That’s one reason I like romance. A guaranteed happy ending!)

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  3. Ken says:

    As an author, I subscribed to Ruby Slippered to learn a bit more about female writers. Thanks for your interesting insight. One thing though, I’ve never heard of any guy saying he didn’t like sex…

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    • Ken, we’re here to help. 😉 I, for one, love chatting with the men (or man, as the case usually is) who shows up to our writer events. I get a little stir-crazy when I spend all weekend talking to women! (Ladies, I love us, but we’re a little bit bat-shit sometimes, you know? I went to a women’s college, so I know of what I speak. I need a little second-hand testosterone at least every other day to keep me sane.)

      And Ken, while I’ve never *personally* known a man who professed to not like sex, such men exist, and I try hard to be culturally sensitive in public. But here http://www.asexuality.org/home/ , I see that asexuality is a sexual orientation, and in all seriousness, some people are asexual.

      (As a side note, my husband often does wonderful things to make my life easier, and I think, “Hey, I ought to get him flowers, or chocolates, or maybe a nice ….”, and then I come to my senses, because those are things that I like. All HE really wants is to be seduced by his beautiful wife as often as possible. Sex is most definitely my man’s preferred thank-you gift.)

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  4. LOL, Jamie. I love the weirdness. That’s what makes us interesting, right? (RIGHT?!) LOL

    I’m a peeping Tom. Or Jane. It’s one of the things that led me into counseling (studying to become one, not necessarily therapy – okay, a little of that, too). Basically, I love to hear how people’s minds work. What makes them tick.

    Remember when that TV series Ally McBeal came out? I thought it was the greatest thing, because we got to see all the weirdness that popped into her head. Perfect. It was scary that I could relate (though no dancing babies, thank goodness.).

    Oh! And one time I told my book club that the thing I was looking forward to after death was being able to review my life piece by piece and see what people were thinking (about me, about the situation, etc.) during each event. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy.

    Sounds like I’m in good company here. LOL

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    • AH, THE DANCING BABY! Totally forgot about that madness. *Shivers*.

      Peeping tom! Uh, I can relate. I’m the worst snoop. I have to consciously stop myself from violating other people’s privacy. I guess I have a weak moral compass, but I’m just so interested in other people’s worlds! I want to see inside their life just like you can in a book (or on Ally McBeal). I mean, I’m not gonna peep inside your medicine cabinet when I visit, and I won’t search your internet history. But it occurs to me that I could. That’s the problem. Being a decent human being takes constant vigilance.

      (I used to peep into an ex-boyfriend’s email account. But he was a cheater, and who wouldn’t peep into a cheater’s email? Besides, he gave me the damn password. What a fool that boy was! I never peeped into anyone else’s. Ruby’s honor.)

      So, you think that the afterlife involves a review of the past? I never thought of it that way! I’ve always looked forward to the chance to just chill with people without them knowing it. Be a fly on the wall, you know?

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  5. Fun post, Jamie! As Ken said, don’t ALL MEN EVERYWHERE like having sex?

    You consider it weird to think all the men in home improvement stores and sports bars are thinking about sex? How about thinking the guy singing a hymn in the church pew in front of you has a hot A**?

    I’m not normally a butt admirer. I usually notice guys smiles first and then their shoulders and chests. But once (I swear it was only once), I noticed how nicely formed a man’s rear end was IN CHURCH!!! I could never look the guy in the eye again without blushing.

    And speaking of eye contact. If you’re talking to me, I’ll be looking right back at you. It only makes me uncomfortable when the people I’m speaking to seem uneasy meeting my gaze.

    Our weirdness is what makes us all interesting.

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    • Every now and then, I meet someone else who also doesn’t look away, and it gets pretty intense.

      Oh, Laurie. You naughty thing! But really, God doesn’t want us not to have sex, or not to have sex drives. Why would he have given us the ability to have orgasms if we weren’t meant to enjoy it? 😉

      I constantly check people out. Men, women, clowns. Whatever. I’d be sitting in that pew checking out that a** right along with you, hon. You are not alone!

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    • Oh, and I mentioned this to Ken, above, but just so you saw it, too.

      http://www.asexuality.org/home/

      I’ve never personally known someone who professed an asexual orientation, but certainly such people exist. And in all seriousness, I wanted to not be insensitive.

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  6. June Love says:

    Jamie, thanks for giving me a Monday ear-to-ear smile. I wouldn’t know where to start trying to verbalize the odd things that run through my head–most of the time at warp speed so even I have a hard time latching onto them.

    What I call a writer’s curiosity, my husband calls being nosey. His name for me is Mrs. Kravitz from the Bewitched show. I do love making up stories about people I barely know or see in a restaurant. I think most writers do this, so I wouldn’t consider it unusual. Just as I suspect most writers eavesdrop in public surroundings. Maybe it’s rude, but I believe it is our way of honing our craft. At least, that’s my story.

    And, I do believe that men think about sex all the time. 🙂

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    • Oh, Lord, June! The eavesdropping we do! I work from a cafe, and some days it gets really loud, and I can’t help but listen. Sometimes, if it’s funny, I’ll live-stream a conversation from my Facebook account. I mean, I don’t violate privacy. Not exactly. 😉 But I do listen to other people’s conversations, and totally judge them. All the time.

      June, I think our eavesdropping and natural curiosity is what makes us writers. It’s also what makes us interesting people to know! We always have something to say, and we’re always interested in finding out more. So we usually have good questions, and make good conversationalists. And if our conversation partner happens to be boring, or at least isn’t opening up, we usually have a great story or ten to tell to break the ice.

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  7. Ha ha, Jamie, I’m a stare-at-the-eyeballs person too. And I cover up the fact that I’m a pretty intense introvert, by asking questions when I first meet someone–partly as a way to keep from talking about myself. Not personal questions…it’s just a way to get the other person to do the bulk of the talking and take the pressure off myself.

    See? Weird. We all are!

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    • So many writer-friends of mine are introverts! But you do make great conversationalists. 😉 I’m surprised to hear that you’re an introvert who stares at the eyeballs. I would have thought those things were mutually exclusive. Who knew?

      I can’t decide if I’m an introvert or an extrovert. I can sometimes blossom into quite the butterfly in a social situation, but I find parties very draining. I need a lot of quiet time by myself to recharge, and there’s very little I love more than curling up with a good book and a cup of tea. And cookies. Or chocolate. Preferably chocolate cookies. But anyway, I can never find my personality “type” on those quizzes because I’m all over the map on the introvert/extrovert scale.

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  8. Shoshana says:

    Yes, I too have the I-can’t-stop-myself-from-making-up-stories-about-everything disease. I can’t even listen to music without coming up with detailed (fake) accounts of the singers’ lives. One time in particular, I was listening to some guy singing about how he missed his girlfriend, and I couldn’t help making up this whole story in my head about how the singer was actually cheating on his girlfriend even as he wrote this song. Even though I literally knew nothing about the guy, other than the fact that he was singing the song I was listening to and that I didn’t like the hat he was wearing on the album cover, the story was so real to me that I got really angry at him. Then I got angry with myself for listening to the song the cheating jerk was singing. Except, I had no information to indicate that he actually was a cheating jerk or even if he had a girlfriend.

    And we won’t get into all the stories I’ve made up while driving about traffic accidents that haven’t actually happened.

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    • That takes the cake, Shoshana. I’ve never gone that far in my imaginings! But a stupid hat on a guy can make a girl imagine all sorts of terrible things.

      (Which guy was it? Was it Adam Levine? Because he clearly is always cheating on his girlfriends. Although I’m sure his new marriage is going to last fo-ev-ah, right?)

      One of my special skills is imagining all the ways I could be attacked when I’m home alone (with my son, but without my husband). I end up terrified. It doesn’t help that I hear voices in our new house. (My husband hears them, too.) So yeah. Imaginary car accidents, virtual sex with strangers in Home Depot, listening to other peoples’ conversations in cafes…we writers are an evil bunch!

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      • It was Gavin DeGraw. I guess I could google him to see if he’s involved in any sort of scandal, but I’m not sure that I want to encourage myself to think about the whole thing any further.

        I don’t hear voices in my house, but shortly after we moved in, around 4 AM, I woke up to the sound of footsteps on the roof. I was so certain some axe murderer was up there, I woke up my husband. He heard the footsteps too and went outside to investigate, but didn’t see anybody. Still, we were freaked out enough that we installed an alarm system. A few weeks later, we were talking to our neighbors, and learned that there’s a family of raccoons that like to hang out on our roof. But let me just say, those footsteps did NOT sound like raccoon footsteps at 4 AM when I was woken from a deep sleep.

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        • OMG — animals on the roof sound SO FREAKING LOUD! Squirrels freak me out. I imagine raccoons would sound like an invading army.

          Still, an alarm system makes one feel better. We need to get ours hooked up again. It always soothes me to have that remote with the panic button close at hand when I’m sleeping alone.

          Gavin DeGraw…I was gonna say that guy looks like a douche, but then I felt bad, because I think he was on Dancing with the Stars and seemed like a decent/sweet person. But that hat! he needs to take it off sometimes. I Googled him just to double-check his face, and he had the hat on in every single picture. Poor guy. It’s like someone told him he needed to be recognizable, so he chose a hat, and now feels like he’s not himself without it.

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  9. My Sisters!! This has to be a Writer Thing! Or maybe a Weirdo Thing ! Or maybe writers ARE weirdo things!

    I’m always wondering what people are thinking. I see people drive by on my way to work and I wonder where they are going and why and what they will do when they get there.

    I find myself making up stories about interesting people I see or about interesting conversations I overhear.

    I used to think I was the strangest most bizarre kid on the planet. I made the mistake of telling some of my friends the sorts of things that went through my head. Then I became the strange kid with the weird mind.

    However, in junior high I started to write some of these stories down. My best friend asked to read them. She told some of our classmates about them and they asked to read them. And they liked them and thought they were cool. I realize now I was very fortunate. I was still the weird kid with the weird mind, but it was okay because I was “the writer chick.”

    In truth, I work with some people who I am reasonably certain don’t think about much of anything. They go to work, they go home, they watch television, they get drunk or high, they go to bed and they do it all over again. They never, ever think outside of their lives at home and at work.Perhaps they are happy that way. But I would find it very sad and very lonely.

    So lets hear it for the Weird Writer Chicks!

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    • This is so funny — we’re all weird!! But there weren’t too many of us in one place, so I think that most of us felt like odd ducks. I mean, I was a chameleon. Many writers are also great actors or performers (like you!). We make a study of human nature, and can write about it or perform it on a stage.

      So sad to imagine having no internal world, isn’t it? I know just a few people who appear to have no actual depth to their characters. I hope they do; I *imagine* that they do.

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  10. OMG this is so awesome!!! I always considered myself so normal until I was chatting with a coach from my high school days and his wife. His wife mentioned that they were talking about me one day and he was telling her how weird I was. Was always weird. Was weird even in high school. I about fell over! Me???? But I’m so normal! I’m almost boring I’m so normal! I was literally struck dumb at that moment. And then it hit me. Maybe I am weird.

    I started paying attention to my thought process and the things I say, like I was driving in the car with my sis and little brother and my brother said something like, “I think I’m going to quit my job anyway.” And I asked, “Because it’s either quit your job or stab your boss in the face with a grilling fork and spend the rest of your life in prison where you’ll meet a man named Bubba who only SEEMS psychotic until you get to know him and you discover he is really a poet who was sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, but with a name like Bubba it was hard to convince the jury of his innocence, so you realize you were put on the earth to study law and help people wrongly convicted of crimes get freed?” “Um, no, not really.” Still, there was a certain poetry to it all, yes?

    But it did occur to me that most people probably wouldn’t have thought that out so far. There could be something to all this.

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    • Darynda, honey, nobody would ever call you normal! And that’s a compliment.

      Every fan of yours needs to read that comment, because it’s SOOO Darynda, and it tells everyone that your voice is true to your core self. What we read in your novels is what you’re thinking. I’ve always eversoslightly envied you for having such a lively, zany, and naturally funny internal voice, but you share it so generously that it’s hard to feel envious for long. <3

      And no, I wouldn't have thought it out so far. But that's what makes YOU weird, and why we love you!

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  11. Rita Henuber says:

    Have done it all my life. Taught my children to do it. One would begin a story then another would take it up. Funny times.
    I also make up better endings to books and movies. One son does that to the point you want to smack him.
    Frankly I find it very strange when people tell me they don’t make up stories. I asked one person what she thought about and she looked at me and said, “nothing.”
    All righty then.

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    • “What do you think about?” “Nothing.”

      Gasp! But see Louisa’s comment, above. There are such people — and she knows waaaay too many of them!

      I’m very glad to hear that this is a teachable kind of crazy! I hope my son develops a vivid imagination (which is I suppose what we’re talking about here). He is an only child, and we tell a lot of stories and read a lot of books. He’s 2.5, and I hear him playing with his toys, making them talk to each other in different voices, engaging in all sorts of misadventures. It’s pretty damn adorable.

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  12. jbrayweber says:

    Jamie~ We are two peas in a pod. I used not to be this way. It’s a rather recent revelation. But I look at couples, young and old, and wonder about their sexual habits. Sometimes there is a ewwwww factor. And then I wonder if I’m the only one who thinks this way. Or do I have some weird tendency to be a imaginative voyeur. Ha!

    I TRY to look more at people. Another recent revelation. I have always been in my own bubble, not engaging in others’ madness. Now I want to see people, see through them, and try to decipher their personalities and dark secrets. 🙂

    Great post, ya weirdo!
    Jenn!

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    • This was all I could do today. Thank God I didn’t see any relatives!! I don’t need to think about my brother

      arghbrainbleachbrainbleachbrainbleach!

      OK, I’m back. That’s an interesting point you make about not engaging in other people’s madness, because I’m a little bit…removed, too. I’ve struggled with that a bit, and I always have wished that I could be someone’s go-to BFF, but I don’t think that’s my role in this world. (That’s my mother’s role, and THAT’S another blog altogether). I’m my husband’s go-to BFF, I guess. But I’m uncomfortable getting down and dirty in someone else’s mess.

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  13. Vivi Andrews says:

    Jamie! I freaking love this post.

    My eye contact thing is kind of the opposite of yours. I have “focus moments” – which is what I call it when I can’t maintain eye contact (my gaze will flick around the room, invariably drawn to anything shiny or moving) and I have a really hard time focusing on whatever the person I’m talking to is saying. This doesn’t mean I’m not interested, it just means my ADD has gone off the rails (though I hate using that label). I’m usually more prone to the “hyperfocus” side of things (where you get so focused on what’s in front of you that you block everything else out), but when I’m stressed the “ooh, shiny!” comes out.

    We’re all mad in our own special ways. 😉

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    • We’ll have such an easier time talking to one another now, Vivi. 😉 It’s very interesting to hear about another person’s very different perspective on the same issue. See, I’d probably interpret your behavior as “disinterested” or “annoyed,” but now I see another choice: distracted.

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  14. Kim Law says:

    This post (and the comments) are awesome. My thing is that I make up stories when I see two people obviously on a date (is it a first date, been dating forever, etc…what are they saying, how much are they making crap up about themselves, etc), or when I see mannequins. Yeah, mannequins. That would be the Stephen King side of me. My son’s whole early life, we’d be in a store and see a mannequin without a head, or without arms or legs, and I’d lean over to my son and say, “Know what happened to him?” And trust, me, it was always graphic and gross, what I came out with. I still do it if my son is with me. And he still asks, “What happened to that guy, Mom.” And my son is 28 🙂 It’s our thing 🙂

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    • Ah, that’s adorable!!! At what age did you begin that with your son? Have you started with your grandbaby? (Do you have more than one?) That’s super cute that you guys still do it.

      I overhear a lot of business discussions in the cafe during the day, including plenty of awkward interviews. SO AWKWARD and I wish people would go elsewhere for such things. It’s just painful to watch someone do terribly in an interview.

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      • Kim Law says:

        I probably started it with him at about 6 or 7. And no, not with the grandkids, but I likely will 🙂 Their attention span will need to be a little longer, though. And the date thing, I did that with my son, too, but didn’t start that until he was in his teens and understood dating 🙂 It wasn’t intentional, just my weird oddities coming out 🙂

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  15. Elisa Beatty says:

    Sorry to get here a day late…but I LOVE this post!!!

    Realizing “that each person in the world had an internal life that was entirely separate from mine” isn’t just a good thing for writers, it’s a lesson everyone needs to learn. I think it’s the very heart of ethical thinking…realizing that everyone is a fully-thinking, fully-feeling entity who’s precious.

    And I love thinking about what everyone’s deep dark secrets are….

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