When I was six years old, my parents gave me a Nintendo 64 for Christmas. And for many many weekend mornings after that, I would wake up early, sneak into the living room, and play Zelda: Ocarina of Time alongside my brother and sister for as long as our parents would let us hog the television.
Now, if you’ve ever played Nintendo 64, you’ll know that it takes a very delicate touch to get a game to work. Unlike many video games today that don’t even require discs, N64 games were thick, plastic bricks that you had to blow into the bottom of before you pushed them into the top of the console at just the right pressure. If it didn’t work the first time, you would pull the game back out, blow on the bottom again, this time in a harmonica like fashion, and then place the game back into the console, perhaps with only two fingers or with a series of delicate taps. Even at age 6, I quickly learned the series of techniques that worked for my particular console, and will utilize them in exact order, even to this day, without fail.
It’s funny how we can become inadvertently trained to operate things in a specific way without ever realizing that it’s peculiar, ridiculous or borderline ritualistic.
For example, my back door has a tricky doorknob. In order to lock both the knob and the pad lock, you have to shut the door, then pull and twist the knob, not so much that it reopens the door, but enough to engage whatever didn’t engage when you initially shut it.
To get my phone to play music in my car, I plug the auxiliary cord into the bottom, unlock my phone, then press play, pause and then play again.
I once had a hairdryer that only worked if you held it at a certain angle, so I would rotate my head in accordance with the limits of the hairdryer, which was great for stretching my neck, but terrible for giving me any kind of acceptable hair style.
To put on my favorite pair of jeans, I squat down into a catcher-like stance, and then jump up, repeating until they wiggle their way up into place. If I choose these jeans when I’m getting ready in a hurry, this process could almost be considered a round of cardio.
We all have a part of our house or our work that we’ll walk towards or lean against in order to get the best Wi-Fi signal, we’ve all had that phone or television that still worked if you banged the side of it, and we’ve all had a window that you have to prop open with a cup, aptly named the “window cup”, when you’re looking to let in a cool fall breeze.
Okay, that last one might just be my roommates and I. But you know what I mean.
Somehow, some way, we fall into these routines and methods that we only realize are strange when we have to explain them out loud to somebody else. And even then, even after we hear it back and think maybe we should, I don’t know, get a new hairdryer, we just shrug it off and move on, because starting a new routine, even if it might be easier, sounds way more complicated than just keeping with what’s familiar.
So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to turn my ceiling fan on level two, because on level one it clicks, and then I’m going to tip toe my way to the bathroom, using precise footing across the floor so it doesn’t creak, because it’s late and I don’t wake up my roommates.
It’s not weird, it’s polite.