Here’s something that most of you don’t know about me: I am the epitome of literalness.
I think this literal phenomenon occurred after my first pregnancy, because I don’t remember my literalness being a problem before then. My family and friends might tell you differently, but I’m pretty sure it came along with my mommy brain.
The problem with being so literal? Miscommunication. On SO many levels. Let me give you a few examples of how my extreme literalness has caused some miscommunication faux pas. See? Here is an example…this is what I mean. I could have just said faux pas (singular), but that wouldn’t have been correct. But I don’t know the plural form of faux pas, and so I point out to you my mistake. And yes, I did just look it up and faux pas plural is the same as it is singular.
Anyways…here are a few examples of my literalness.
1. My sister A is one of the most amazing home cooks I know. Me? I cook from recipes.
Things I have been making for years (like meatloaf), I’ll still pull out good old Betty Crocker’s book to tell me how to do it. I would hate to put a teaspoon of something in when it only called for half a teaspoon.
My sister A? If I ask her for a recipe, she’ll say something like this: “A pound of ground beef, enough onion to mix well with the meat, a little garlic, some pepper…” And at this point I’ll say, “Stop! What do you mean “enough onion” and “a little garlic”? How much is that? What if I put in too much…or even worse, not enough?
I’ve also been known to yell at Rachael Ray, as she smiles and throws a palmful of cumin into a skillet that has two circles of olive oil in it:
“FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S PURE AND HOLY! HOW MUCH IS A “PALMFUL”? HOW MUCH IS TWO TIMES AROUND THE PAN WITH OLIVE OIL, WOMAN? I DON’T KNOW WHAT A “PALMFUL” OR “TWO TIMES AROUND THE PAN” EVEN MEANS!”
Because without specifics, I can’t cook.
2. Another example of my extreme literalness: mashing potatoes to make mashed potatoes.
The same sister and her family came over one night to make steaks and all the fixins. I had the potatoes boiling; she was making the salad. I drained the potatoes, got out my handy dandy potato masher, and got busy.
Sister A: What are you doing?
Me: I’m mashing potatoes. Why?
Sister A: Well why don’t you use your hand mixer?
Me: Huh? What do you mean?
Sister A: If you use the hand mixer, it’s a lot faster and the potatoes will be creamy and smooth.
Me: Huh. Never even occurred to me. I’ve always used the masher because that’s how you mash potatoes.
This was last year, people. Literal idiocy.
And this last one, I’ll never live down. EVER. I get teased about this one all of the time.
3. My mom and dad were going away, and asked us to keep their dog while they were gone. Baxter might be three pounds soaking wet, and he’s a really good dog. Other than making sure I didn’t lose/kill him, my mom’s only instructions were to “put him in his cage and cover him up with his blanket” when I put him to bed.
Uh huh. I’m sure you already see where this is going. Bedtime rolled around, I put him in his cage, and covered him up with his blanket. But he wouldn’t stay under the blanket! I tried to put him under it and he just kept whining and trying to get away from me. And then spent most of the night, whining and crying.
My mom came to pick him up, and asked how he did. I told her that he was fine, except her really didn’t want to be covered up with his blanket.
Mom: What do you mean?
Me: Well, I tried to cover him up with his blanket, but he just kept climbing on top of it and whining.
Mom: Wait, you mean that you covered him up with the blanket? Not his cage?
Me: Well why would I cover up his cage? You said cover him up so I put him in the cage and covered him up with the blanket.
Mom: (uncontrollable laughter) Natalie! You tried to put the blanket over Baxter?! I meant to put the blanket over his cage!
That’s not what she said, people. Sigh. Literalness equals miscommunication. Just remember those words, and live by them. And keep it mind especially when you’re talking to me!
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*I am being compensated for this post by TheMotherhood and the Alka-Seltzer brand. Unfortunately, all of the examples of miscommunication that I’ve told you are my own.