Stupid lost skills department

I’m wondering tonight about idiosyncratic skills people pick up naturally and what might belong or have belonged to some individuals reading.

The second place Marty and I lived after we were married was a second floor in a house that had a screened porch. We had no air conditioning of course, the house was ancient in the downtown residential area that was at that point dead. The screened porch looked over the old broad street split with a median and during the warm months I wrote and we ate on the front porch. And a strange thing happened. Somehow, without giving any thought to it at all, within a couple of months I suddenly realized I was able to identify almost any car by its headlights and tail lights, but in particular its tail lights. I’ve no idea how it happened. Later, when we were on the road, I’d entertain the band with this skill which even to me was a trifle bizarre, that I didn’t know anything about cars but I could tell from a distance, by the lights, what one was. This was in the late 70s and by the early 80s all the cars on the road were Japanese and my talent was lost. But it was an entertaining skill while I had it, and was amusing way to pass time on the road. People would at first bet I could only identify a few and then would stop betting because I somehow knew what every car was. There may be a number of other people who could do this with American cars but we happened not to know any and others were always amused. But then one is easily amused on the road.

One of those things that comes up during a long night of band driving from town to town.

Long silence.
Marty: Hey, guys, watch this. This is too weird.
Someone: What.
Marty (pointing out distant head lights on the horizon): Jules, what kind of car is that?
Me: Such-and-such.
Car draws near and passes.
Someone: Wow, how’d you know that?
Me: The headlights.
(And eventually.)
Me: I don’t know what that one is. It’s Japanese.

Made for a good half hour of entertainment. If we were slightly stoned it was a wee bit more fun. Dissolving into helpless tears of laughter thing after about five minutes.

Someone: Hahahaha! What’s that car!
Me: Hahahaha! It’s a such-and-such!
(Car passes.)
Someone: Hahahahaha! You’re right! Hahahaahaha!
Me: Hahahahahaha!
Someone: Hahahaha! What’s that car!
Me: Hahahaha! It’s a such-and-such!
(Car passes.)
Someone: Hahahahaha! Wow! Too freaking weird! How the fuck do you do that? Hahahaha!
Me: Hahahahaha! I don’t know!
Me and someone: Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(And eventually.)
Me: Hahahahaha! I don’t know what that one is, it’s Japanese!
Me and someone: HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What’s more weird is I wouldn’t even be able to describe what was different about the head lights and tail lights, the knowledge was that dissociated from conscious realm. I had to see the lights to know the car, but get it out of sight and if you asked me what kind of head lights or tail lights different cars had, I couldn’t begin to tell you.

I was reminded of that last night after reading Stone Bridge’s post on his first attempts at identifying water birds and, after some study in the field guide, embarrassing himself by believing a domestic duck was a marvelous snow goose.

Published by

Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *