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.

24 responses to “My Quirk

  1. I have a friend who is also completely asymmetrical, like your friend. For instance, one foot is an entire size larger than the other. We joke that she should put out a personal ad searching for someone with the same quirk, opposite feet – her SOLE mate! Get it? Corny, I know 😛

    I’m not being insecure or anything, but I can’t think of a physical quirk at the moment … I do move move my lips when I write/draw … I also have a knack for memorizing maps and obscure trivia. Do those count?

  2. Now that was a good giggle because I do the same thing especially when it comes to accents. Often I find myself doing the English or Pakastani accent …. and now I notice my daughters doing the same thing.

  3. Okay, now I amd TOTALLY freaked out at the prospect of ever actually meeting you. I hate being mimicked!

    As for anything on my person that is asymettrical on me, I’ll just leave you guessing. 🙂

  4. My right hand and foot are bigger than my left. The only one that really annoys me is that one boob hangs lower than the other. Too much information? As for quirks, I am totally with you on the mimicry. Not so much noises, but definitely voices and accents. This makes it awkward on call centre conversations because I have to fight really hard not to slip into the accent of the call centre staff.

    I am also extremely tactile. I have to touch! I find myself walking down the halls at work, running a finger along the Dilbert cube walls. Or if someone has an interesting textiled shirt, I have to fight the urge to touch it.

  5. I have noticed that you do accents especially well. Next time we get together I’m going to run you through all your echolalic tricks for my entertainment.

    My quirks are far less useful as party tricks: I have extra bones on the top of each foot, my arms don’t go all the way straight, I have a bit of trouble saying the s sound, and I have an autoimmune disorder that’s triggered by being too cold. Ho hum.

  6. Sorry, I have no quirks.

    I wish I had your quirk because I’d love to talk like David Caruso on CSI Miami.

    Oh, wait, maybe I do have a quirk. I’m told that when I say words that end with “ing” like “biking” or “sailing”, they sound like they end with a “k”: “biking”, “sailink”.

  7. Quirks… I love them. I’ve never looked closely enough to notice any oddities like bigger left feet or something…

    I can raise my right eye brow very high and leave the left down… but can’t consciously raise the left, though I have notice it go up when I’m not stinking. I also have a slightly geographic tongue… and it’s rather long… the tongue not the geography.

    My friends say I am socially seasonal. In the winter I am out of season. Though I suspect this has more to do with the bad mood I get from being subjected to the misery that is the Holiday Season at home. Though home life has changed so I won’t be dealing with that any more.

    Oooh… and one more, I get lost in time. It’s not what you’re thinking, it’s not that I lose track of time. I get lost. Like a person bad with directions. They can go to the same place a million times and still not be able to direct someone to it or get lost going by themselves… I’m that way with time. What time it is. I forget what day it is. How long I’ve been someplace or doing something. Sometimes I’ll know what day it is, but forget what that means. If I didn’t have friends reminding me of social events, I’d never make it to any.

    I’m sure if you ask people that know me they could give you a longer list…

  8. Oh my god. You do VOICES too?? I am fascinated. Let me give it some thought and get back to you on what my quirks are…I just felt the need to immediately react to the great fun your quirk must be! You must be a hoot to spend time with!

    Why don’t 25 of my own quirks come immediately to my mind? It’s not like I’m not aware I’m one big walking oddity….

  9. Wow that’s fascinating. My husband and I do that all the time. Just tonight watching the men’s rings in the Olympics, I said, “What? Do they have a microphone in that pad?” because the sound of their feet hitting was so loud and we both started making that sound. He’s actually quite an impersonator but I have to have just heard a voice to do it. And when he can’t get one right we both do really stupid attempts like the actor Ted Levine, the police captain on “Monk” and the serial killer in Silence of the Lambs. Although “It puts the lotion in the basket” is pretty easy to do, when he just talks in his regular voice, he is really hard to imitate. There are some I can do without having just heard them like “Uncle Owen, this R2 unit has a bad motivator!” I think the three of us would have a blast doing this over beers in a loud pub, but we’d probably annoy the hell out of all the people near us. Oh and in a related story, on our first date, my husband said a line from North by Northwest in his great James Mason voice and I literally swooned and said, “Oh! I LOVE James Mason!” and he was so surprised and said that I was the first person that ever recognized that voice. We were pretty much sealed at that point.

  10. That’s awesome!

    The only things I can think of off the top of my head are that I can’t curl my tongue and I can raise each eyebrow independently.

    I have a friend who has one A-cup breast and D-cup. She wears a prosthetic to make them both Ds.

  11. There you go again, getting people to admit what freaks they really are.

    My freaky side:

    I have the whole lopsided face thing. So much so, that I started cocking my right eyebrow up in photos so as not to appear quite so lopsided (my right eye almost closes completely when i smile…my brother has the same thing). I always wondered as a kid if I had a partial face transplant.

    I have the freakishly long tongue thing although I can’t touch the tip of my nose, but can lick my chin if need be (sexy, yeh). Makes me an intimidating kisser…it’s too much for most people (I want the tongue! You can’t handle the tongue! ahem, sorry. getting carried away; i got 4 consecutive hours of sleep last night and am pure giddy with energy this morning.) Gav also has my long tongue. I blame our mumbling on all that tongue taking up space in our mouth.

    I can also contort my lips around in odd positions…sort of an exaggerated Elvis Presley lip snarl but with both the top and bottom lips.

    Ugh. I’m just a facial circus freak.

  12. i don’t know if this is quirky or just strange, but when i get really nervous i play the piano on the left palm of my hand…fur elise to be specific….but just how imagine it would be played, as i don’t actually play the piano. make sense?

  13. Unlike most of the commenters I have absolutely no personality quirks but I was born with a pronounced curve to both of my little fingers. THis never bothered me although it probably ruled out a career as a concert pianist but my parents thought I should have them fixed. I went under the knife when I was 9 and althogh it cost a lot the problem was never corrected. If we had done that now I’m sure we could have sued for enough to retire on but back then it just wasn’t going to happen. Now my poor fingers are still bent but also undersized. If anyone wants to donate for my upkeep I’m sure I can find a way to work that out.

  14. I have to write a song, and you have to scat sing to it, or possibly pull a Bobby McFerrin. Why don’t you make an MP3 of your sound effects and post it for our enjoyment? You could be the next “that guy from Police Academy 1.”

  15. Sometimes when I’m stressed I am aware of colors having both different levels of heat and shape attached to them. I know. It’s either a quirk or an illness, and very likely is related to migraines. So far it hasn’t gotten me in any trouble. But stress quirks are so annoying—as if you don’t have nothing else to worry about at the time!

  16. Tamia – No fair telling us about your friend’s quirk! But I guess automatically memorizing obscure facts is a good quirk — handy, too.

    Raino – I really don’t do it to mock people, it just happens. I could never understand how people who come from England can still have an English accent 25 years later? I’d be in London 3 days and I’d sound almost like a real cockney.

    Bob – Come on – you’re the guy who plays pretend tennis in your living room and you’re telling me you have no quirks?? I promise not to mimic you. I can behave myself most of the time.

    UP – Oh ya, it’s very difficult to talk to someone with an accent and not talk back at them with the same accent. I’m totally opposite of you about the tactile thing, though. I only touch people if I really, really like them.

    Zoom – I’ve noticed your “s” thing. It’s kind of cute. Are all those extra bones useful in any way? And the arm thing, combined with the autoimmune thing could be the result of some childhood rheumatoid arthritis flare which affected the elbow joints? My daughter had that as peripheral to the Crohns and had to do a lot of physio to get her limbs limber again.

    David – Dahlink – you have Zsa Zsa syndrome?? David Caruso makes cringe in every pore. It’s not so much his voice as it is his mannerisms, the sunglasses schtick and the inane things he says while trying to look super-macho. It’s extra funny because if he wasn’t someone who somehow managed to get himself on TV, he’d be at a beach getting sand kicked in his face.

    Hyrcan – I’m assuming the “when I’m not stinking” is a typo, but I can’t figure out what you actually meant to say?? Gee, if it wasn’t for your miserable moods and your inability to keep a social appointment, I would have thought that extra long tongue would have made you quite popular.

    Lesley – Yes. A hoot. That’s me.

    Geewits – Hey, I used to do James Mason, too! That was always one of my mum’s favorites. I’ll pencil you and hubby in for an evening of obnoxious behaviour in a local pub. But really, it’s not something I do consciously. I don’t think “Oh, doesn’t he have a funny voice, I wonder if I could immitate it?” It’s more like a spontaneous tic-like thing. I mean, I was doing this while I was still in diapers. (I would have been REALLY fun at the pub then)

    Kim – Yikes! for the boob thing. That ought to make UP feel a bit better about her one floppy one. Can you raise both eyebrows independently or just one side?

    OTC – Have you met Hyrcan (above). Maybe the two of you ought to get together for a gagging-good make-out session (and stuff)? You’re like the female Lon Chaney of wherever you’re from. And I’m sure Gav will thank you for his inheritance many times in years to come.

    Meanie – Yes, that is very, very strange. Fur Elise is a two-handed piece, for one thing. Very strange.

    Cedarflame – Oh, come on! You have that whole bladder capacity thing you mentioned a while back. Nothing? At all?

    Bandobras – Oh my god! I’m surprised your parents chose to let you live as an infant. Nowadays they could have spotted that infirmity in utero and opted for a termination early on in the pregnancy. Oh well, I hope you’ve managed to live a reasonably normal life regardlesss?

    Brad – Yes, that’s just what I want to do. Won’t you people ever leave me alone? It’s a curse, I tells ya — A CURSE.

    Deb – Ah ha! Interesting because I just read something about this sort of thing. It’s called synesthesia — where your senses get mixed up for any number or reasons (the migraine for sure) and you can feel or smell colors or see music or hear shapes. It can manifest in a variety of ways. Some people have it all the time because of a head injury at some point in their life or some other trauma – some only experience it once in a while, usually because of stress or migraines or something similar. You should look into it. There are support groups and everything to help you harness and/or understand it. A most excellent quirk!

  17. @XUP: “…I’m not thinking about it” was what it was supposed to say.


    I’ll keep that in mind if I ever remember to make it to social events… ;P

    @Deb: Not a illness, but it does have a name. Synesthesia. There’s a great TED talk about what’s behind it by Vilayanur Ramachandran.

    @onthecurb: I can’t touch my nose with my tongue, but like you, can touch my chin… 🙂

  18. that sounds like it’s borderline tourettes? i have a lot of quirks, and was recently told by a doctor that i most likely had tourettes when i was younger. i’ve always been fascinated by tourettes.

    i would spit wherever i was, repeat words over and over and over, and i was a grunter.

    i can wiggle my ears, i am an obsessive counter & i always have to count to 28. i was born with a hernia, two toes stuck together, and a broken collar bone. i was a 10 pd baby, so i think the delivery was responsible for the collar bone.

    there is more believe it or not, but i’m going to stop here 🙂

  19. DP – Wow, okay — you win the “most quirks” award. Have you overcome most of these or are you still counting, grunting, wiggling, repeating and spitting??

  20. yes, i have overcome most of them but i do still count and i can still wiggle my ears.

    my kids will tell you that i repeat things but i think just a mom thing.

  21. DP – Well, too bad you’re not totally quirky anymore. Keep counting and repeating!!

    UL – Absolutely! And no boob-showing allowed on this blog.