“Four billion brains and every single one is different.” My father made that statement whenever anyone did something in not quite the same way he might have done it. He said it regularly when he watched the evening news and his tone was never judgmental but more respectful for the fact that yes, indeed, everyone might look pretty much the same on the surface but when it comes to thinking processes, fugetaboutit. Two more billion people on the planet would have really set him off.
I remembered Dad’s comment when I went out to eat with my friend, Mary, the other night. I ordered a large pizza with an eye toward taking home leftovers for Hubby, a wise move since I was able to eat about a fifth of the pizza before feeling like I was going to pass out from an overdose of mozzarella and Diet Coke. (By the way–all those people who tell you that someday you won’t be able to eat the way you did in your twenties aren’t lying. Turns out the calorie counting doomsayers are simply being honest. Cruel, but honest.) As I began happily and messily piling the squares of pizza into the cardboard takeout box the waitress had given me, Mary watched me for a second or two before saying, “Wouldn’t it be easier just to slide the whole pizza in at the same time?”
She was right, of course. Especially since the pizza had been served on a piece of parchment paper that enabled me to move the pizza from its serving tray into the waiting cardboard box far more neatly and efficiently than my labor intensive (not to mention greasy) method. Mary’s suggestion to do the easiest and most obvious thing heavily underscores the battle I’ve been facing my entire life: I have never been able to see the easiest and most obvious choices. My brain finds the most arcane and difficult choice, pounces on it in pure relief for discovering some kind of solution and moves on from there without looking back. People like Mary enter a room they’ve never been in before and subconsciously find the exits just in case there’s a fire or someone they don’t want to talk to or some other disaster lurking near the onion dip. People like me enter a room, find the nearest corner and quietly wait until they’ve been their long enough to leave without appearing rude- but only after I was able to taste all the passed hors d’oeuvres.
I am pretty sure I was born this way. No, I know I was born this way. One of the first complete (?) sentences I ever uttered was “Fish bite toe me,” something I tearfully said when my big toe was (I swear) bitten by an extremely large fish in about three inches of water on the shores of Lake Michigan. My family thought my mixed up sentence was cute and laughed at me but I wasn’t trying to be cute. I thought I was making my point quite clearly and couldn’t understand why they didn’t understand that there was a possible Jaws-like attack about to take place–although I was sure they’d be sorry once one of them was eaten. I think “fish bite toe me” whenever someone (like Mary) points out a simpler way to do a task than however I’m tackling it. A lot of people apparently were born with short cuts in their heads, short cuts that enable them to get from the Library to the Lounge via a secret underground passage while others plod from square to square to square, eventually reaching the Lounge long after the murderer has been caught and everyone else has already gone to bed.
I don’t mind having my illogical ways pointed out to me. It’s saved me a ton of time both at work and play and people are usually pretty nice about their suggestions. I do wonder what it would be like to have one of those “big picture” kind of brains but I comfort myself by remembering that any one brain can hold only so much knowledge and since mine is stuffed to the brim with reruns of “The Brady Bunch,” the state capitals and presidents memorized in grade school and way more than its share of mozzarella. I am guessing there’s not much room left over for logic.
The world is up to about seven billion brains now and as my dad observed, each one is different. I just wish that at least one time I could enter a room and spot an exit before anyone else did. And if that exit took me from the Library to the Lounge in one fell swoop so much the better; that way I could get home faster to eat leftover pizza and watch reruns of the Brady Bunch.