Three and a half years go, I knitted my first scarf. Since then, I have knitted four toques. I nearly finished a fifth in the time it took to drive from Montréal to Vancouver, but when I got to the stitch decreases for the crown, I decided my handiwork was a waste of fancy yarn and unravelled the whole thing.
I’ve started something new, but it is not going well. Reading a knitting pattern is a skill I have yet to master. It goes something like this:
1: K1, P2, K2, K1togbl2, *K2, P2; rep from * across, end K2.
2: K1below, P3
3: Alternate between rows 1 and 2, until you realize that you’ve spent hours doing the wrong thing, and clench your jaw so hard in anger that your teeth shatter.
Ah, what a relaxing hobby.
So, when people ask me to list five facts about myself, do I say I’m a knitter? Does it count if I’ve only done it successfully a grand total of five times?
When I was a kid, because I was a cross-boundary student, I had to find another way to make friends with the neighbourhood kids. The backyard of my childhood home was bordered by shrubs, which I’d bound back and forth through, pretending I was entering a portal to another realm. A realm where I had friends. One of my next-door neighbours were childfree but frequently had their niece and nephew over.
I couldn’t communicate well with them, so we were limited to playing schoolyard games, like freeze tag. The last time I played with them, though, they were doing air guitar windmills and then running away from me. I hated this game. That day, I gave up my shrub portal for good.
I needed new friends. To do this, I came up with a new friend-making technique that involved handing out hand-scrawled surveys for the kids to fill out.
Are you a boy or a girl: circle one (Hey, I was raised by a very gender-normative mother.)
That sort of stuff, aside from the last question. Seeing how hearing children are no less weird than deaf ones, I had many survey respondents; however, my surveys did not translate into lasting friendships. In no time, I was back to my usual post-school activities of reading, watching tv, drawing, spying on the neighbours with Dad’s binoculars, and bothering my cats.
To this day, I still don’t understand how to interact with children.
I haven’t quite figured out adults either, but I do know that adults love to talk about themselves. I am no exception. So, my go-to question for luring new friends–should the glowing appendage that dangles from my forehead fail–is: “Tell me five fascinating facts about yourself.”
I’ve asked this frequently enough that I know the look of somebody’s mind going blank.
“Take your time,” I’d tell them.
I know it’s a tricky question. How someone chooses to respond tells me how willing they about opening up to a stranger. Some choose to be superficial with their answers, while others have jumped at the opportunity to showboat. I have no issue with those who brag; after all, the question welcomes it.
My favourite responses, though, involve random anecdotes as there’s a potential to turn these into a conversation.
Somehow, I had never been prepared to have the question turned onto me. What are my five facts? I have endless anecdotes, but which story of mine would the person be the most interested in knowing? What level of weirdness do I entertain?
So, here’s five:
- I cannot get dizzy from spinning.
- My original email account is still my primary email account: it has existed since 1998.
- I had a giant millipede named Timk (the ‘k’ is silent) who lived in a flaming igloo that I had made from polymer clay.
- As an adult, I went to Disneyland Tokyo alone. With a bad cold. I went on three rides and decided to quit after the third, Roger Rabbit’s Car-Toon Spin. The black lights in the ride illuminated the sick that had been wiped all over my lap. It was an indicator that I had to stop lying to myself and head back to the hostel to curl up with a pack of tissues.
- I have experienced -20°C weather and 35°C weather… IN THE SAME DAY.
What are your five?