My Quirk

Geewits recently bemoaned the fact that nothing on her body was symmetrical – that one foot was bigger than the other; that one hand was bigger than the other; that she was totally lopsided.

I’ve never met her, so I don’t know how noticeable this is – everyone is somewhat asymmetrical, after all. Most people, in fact have some sort of oddity with which they were born. Some people have really odd oddities. There are people born with little tails, or 3 nipples or 6 toes or webbed toes or 2 penises or no sense of smell. There are people who are double or triple jointed or who feel no pain or who have odd compulsions or obsessions like eating hair or nails or other non-food stuff.

People don’t always like to talk about their little quirks, but I knew a woman once who was tongue-tied. This just meant she couldn’t stick out her tongue; it was completely attached to the bottom of her mouth. It’s surprising how many difficulties this caused her.

I also knew a guy who had no cartilage in his nose. It looked okay, but he could push it right smack over to the side of his face. It was fun watching him blow his nose.

My quirk is only partially physiological. Since I first learned to make sounds, I’ve felt a compulsion to mimic other sounds – especially odd or repetitive sounds. Even as a toddler, my parents tell me I would mimic anyone or anything that sounded a bit out of the ordinary. And I guess I was pretty good at it because they used to haul me out in front of company and get me to do imitations of people they knew or people from TV.

I could do anything from Johnny Cash to my Sunday school teacher to a trumpet to the neighbour’s cat. Other times my parents would cringe in horror when I did it public, like repeating everything the doctor said mimicking his own pompous voice. And I got in trouble a lot at school for “making fun” of other kids or the teacher or Officer Fullerton who came to talk to us about the safety rules.

After a while, I figured out that doing this probably wasn’t cool and I learned to control it. But still, to this day, whenever I’d hear a new or unusual sound I still feel an urge to mimic it.

Sometimes, when I’m not paying attention I’ll do it without noticing I’m doing it.

Like, I might be shopping and the loudspeaker announced something in an especially grating voice, I’ll repeat the announcement in the same grating voice, quite loudly. My daughter smacks me and looks aghast and I stop.

I don’t know if this is an actual physiological quirk or just me being rude. Just repeting sounds (without necessarily the mimicry) is called echolalia, and is often part of a lot of other conditions and syndromes which I don’t have as far as I know.

It comes in handy, though, when learning foreign languages because I do really well with the accents. And, I suppose I could work it into a stand-up act if I ever decided to take that up as a career, but other than that it’s just sort of bad-mannered.

Let’s share quirks – mental or physical. And send photos.