So for someone who is relatively smart, there are a lot of things I am slow to pick up on. There are words that I’ve found out I’ve been hearing wrong in my head (you don’t even want to know how I used to pronounce “colander”). There are little life skills that I never got the hang of. I thought I’d share with you just a small sampling of the things I reached adulthood without learning. For extra humor, I’ve contrasted the proper age to learn such things with the age I actually learned them.
How to change a diaper
Age I should have learned this: Early teens?
Age I actually learned this: Never
I was the baby on one side of my family, and the second-from-baby on the other side. As a result, there were never any kids younger than me that I needed to learn how to swaddle. Sure, I did my share of babysitting in high school, but it was always kids age five and up. So if/when I ever have kids, I’m going to get peed and pooped on. A lot.
You’re supposed to tip hotel housekeepers
Age I should have learned this: Late teens
Age I actually learned this: 25
At the first hotel my now-spouse and I ever stayed in together, he asked me as we were packing up to leave, “How much should we tip the housekeeper?” I responded, “Er “¦ what?” My only defense here, is that my parents must have just quietly taken care of it when we stayed in hotels and I never realized what was happening. Add to that the fact that I’m a cheap, clingy asshole that prefers to crash with friends than stay in a hotel, and maybe that explains it? Or maybe I’m just a horrible person. I’ve generously tipped since then to make back the karma.
I hate camping
Age I should have learned this: 8-10
Age I actually learned this: 28
I think my parents, born and bred cityfolk, never felt it was a priority to take their two children outdoors very often. I didn’t even go camping until I went with friends at age 20. I remained optimistic about camping until about my sixth crappy camping trip. I eventually realized the pattern was always the same. I’d start out thinking: The heart of a wild human that beats in me yearns to escape from the city! Within an hour of setting up camp (even if it was the kind of campsite where the car was only 5 feet away) I’d be thinking: I’m hot. This is boring. I am going to be mauled by a bear. Why is it so dirty out here? So, the lesson finally stuck: I hate camping.
How cars work
Age I should have learned this: 16
Age I actually learned this: 25/never
I never had my own car. Sometimes my mom would let me drive her car, which was a very mom-like SUV with a big plastic bin in the back to hold her grocery bags. Also there was a totally non-embarrassing No Smoking decal on one of the windows. ANYWAY. I missed an important rite of passage: owning a crappy car as a teenager. So I never learned how to check oil, change a tire, or really do anything other than pump gas and squeegee the windshield. Once again, my now-spouse was shocked that I knew so little about how cars work when we first met. After he showed me a few things, I now have a kindergarten-level understanding of the inner workings of a car. But I still think they mostly run on magic and glitter.
How to make coffee
Age I should have learned this: 18
Age I actually learned this: 22
This one probably has the smallest age discrepancy, but considering that I started drinking coffee in college I should have also learned how to make it, no? But instead, since the coffee place on campus took my meal plan card, I’d just grab a cup on my way to class. Imagine then, if you will, fresh-faced college graduate Hattie working at her first Big Girl Job, and freezing in fear when her boss tells her to make coffee for the people coming in for a meeting. I hyperventilated, I flailed, and I ran to the desk of another young worker and begged her to help me.
How to throw a Frisbee
Age I should have learned this: 5
Age I actually learned this: 20
One of the mixed blessings of being an impossibly clumsy, un-athletic little child is that people’s expectations of your abilities are drastically lowered. That’s the only explanation for how I got to college without knowing how to throw a Frisbee: I guess when people saw me flail my arms and fling a Frisbee onto the roof, they just figured, “Well, she’s having fun. And at least she didn’t hurt herself.” One of my friends was so horrified to find out I’d never learned to throw a Frisbee properly that he spent one frustrating afternoon teaching me how to do it. Now I’m a big girl!
So, please tell me I’m not the only one. Did any of you have your light bulb moments way too late?