Thursday, August 30, 2007

Here’s What You’re Going To Do

So, rr and I have been considering attending a KC & the Sunshine Band concert next month. I emailed my brother and a friend of his for directions. I emailed my brother’s friend because I had been told that the lived very close to the venue, so I expected that he’d be able to give good directions. I emailed my brother because he had been there once, and he can tell you how to get to anywhere even if he’s never been there. It’s amazing, and he’s been like that since he was 4. When he was 4, he gave my mother directions to get to a place he’d only been to once, the year before.

I should have known that I really only needed to ask my brother.

Don’t get me wrong. My brother’s friend gave me perfectly competent directions. Those directions would have enabled 9 people out of 10 to get there without trouble. But my brother gave RR directions that are more appropriate for our skill level. My brother (1) has an amazing sense of direction, (2) is very observant about landmarks, and, most importantly, (3) understands that neither (1) nor (2) applies to me or rr. It’s like God took the sense of direction that three people should have and gave it all to my brother, leaving none for RR and me. Accordingly, my brother has long been the go-to guy for us.

Despite that, he almost always, very sweetly I think, overestimates us. He knows we aren’t good with directions, but he has too much confidence in our memories, specifically, in our ability to remember places we’ve been 50 times before. At least, he does at the beginning of a conversation involving directions. And then he comes back to reality. I cannot tell you how many times we’ve had a conversation that went something like this [all places and road names are made up]:

Me: Hey, how do I get to the YadaYada?
Him: You just get on the 101 and take it up to the 12 and exit Norville, it’ll be on your right.
Me: Ok, great. . . Do I know where the 101 is?
Him: You’ve been there, we went there with the family 17 years ago for lunch once. Remember, it was raining, and dad said [insert lots of details about a day I don’t remember at all]. [or worse, it might be something like, “you remember, that’s where your high school graduation was,” or “you know, the interstate you used to live right off of,” something that I really should remember but don’t]
Me: ooook, so, how do I get there?
Him: You just take Interstate 70 north.
Me: And . . . Interstate 70, that’s . . . I get there by . . . by taking . . .
Him: Interstate 40.
Me: Ok, right. Interstate 40. So, I’ll take Interstate 40. Right, ok, I know what you’re talking about now. I’ll take Interstate 40 east and then take the exit for Interstate 70, and I’ll go . . .
Him: North.
Me: and that’s–
Him: Left.
Me: Right, ok, 40 to 70, go left, take that up to the 101. Exit Norville Road. And then I’ll be able to find it?
Him: Take the 101 to 12. 12 to Norville.
Me: Oh. Ok. . . So . . . then. . .
Him: Ok, tell you what. This is what you’re going to do. . .

And then he proceeds to give me directions that will take me longer to get there but are easier to follow, involving at least some streets that I know. He’ll give me landmarks and mileage and approximate wait time at stop lights and the license plates of the cars I’ll pass on the road. Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But he gives idiot-proof directions, is my point.

Yesterday, he went straight to the idiot-proof directions, skipping over his usual nod to the intelligence the family supposes us to have. Perhaps it’s because the last time I was at my parents’ house with him, we had a conversation that went something like this:

Me [talking about what would happen if he made one of his vindictive coworkers angry]: You’ll be walking around with one of those things on your back.
Him, Mom, and Dad: ?
Me: You know, those things. [drawing desperate circles with my arms] The round things, with the red? You throw things? [mimicking throwing darts]
Him [incredulously]: . . . You mean a target?
Me [relieved]: Yes!

I wish I could have captured the looks on their faces. It was like they were all thinking, “oh, this is worse than we thought.” Like they all finally realized what I’ve been saying for years, that my brain really does only hold on to the stuff I absolutely have to remember to survive. That rr’s habit of finishing my sentences for me isn’t so much a trait that would annoy me as one that’s absolutely vital to my conveying a complete thought. So maybe, when giving directions to rr last night, my brother was thinking that we were only one step up from having to have our address pinned to our shirts. Whatever the case, he gave us good directions.

I’m only a little nervous about getting lost and having to ask for directions from some guy at a convenience store. “You know, that place, with the building, for the singing?”


RR said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one in the family who gets those looks. :)

Deals On Wheels said...

I need to meet your brother.

Case in point:
Went to VT this weekend for a wedding. Flew into Hartford, CT. Hadn't been to Hartford for years (since my sister's high school graduation to be exact). Hotel shuttle had problems finding the Dollar Rent a Car place, because it wasn't on the main drag. I knew EXACTLY where it was, though, and gave him directions. Stranger still: I'd never been to Dollar. Years before, we'd rented from Thrifty and drove past Dollar (information I apparently retained). Imagine all the really awesome information I could remember if my brain wasn't chalk full of worthless crap!!!

Ems said...

Just follow the sun two clicks and right after the 7-11 you'll see a huge blue building.

I just love that.

Heather said...

Oh my gosh, I am exactly the same way. I am like Shelley Long in 'Troop Beverly Hills' - I get lost in my walk-in closet.

I need directions like, 'turn right at the corner with the house with the fake cows on the lawn,' not 'go north on Main Street.'