Little Quirks

On Monday I was at Costco, and I noticed something very interesting: other than one rogue cart inexplicably shoved onto the median rather than neatly wheeled back to the corral not twenty feet away, the parking lot was devoid of carts. My faith in humanity was briefly restored, until I saw the weary-looking, long-suffering employees with the cart train, clearly having just gathered them all from where Humanity’s Laziest People left them. And lo, after spending less than an hour in the store, I passed dozens of carts strewn through the lot as I made my way back to my car. It seems he task of clearing the Costco parking lot of carts is even more Sisyphean than laundry.

The very fact that I was at Costco speaks to my recovery. My hip is getting much better, so much so that I can walk the dog without wanting to lie down and cry. In fact, I’ve been cleared for non-running physical activity, which has lifted my spirits immensely. I missed writing “Favourite Things” last month and toyed with the idea of writing a “Favourite Things: On The Road To Recovery Edition,” but happily I realized that this would be even more boring than the time I wrote about cleaning with white vinegar. Consider yourself spared, dear reader, unless, of course, you are dying to hear about the following: dry needling, yoga balls, spin and elliptical trainers, protein powder, and enough Advil to make Pfizer shareholders happy for the next decade.

My dear friend Taryn (HI TARYN) had posted a picture of a Type A person victoriously holding a box of flowers over their head, with the caption “Flower Smelling Champion” and I can feel myself going in that direction, but with recovery. I’m a little surprised I haven’t started a whole Instagram feed with the hashtag #crushingtherecovery.

I’m working on being less crazy, I swear, although it’s the crazy parts of ourselves that really make things interesting in life. Well, “interesting.” In addition to deciding, after reading When The Body Says No, that I would start on June 1 with a recovery-appropriate exercise plan, and then writing down all those things with detailed notes about how my hip is feeling, I realized that I have many, many strange quirks. Obsessively strange quirks. Or maybe they are not strange at all, maybe they are perfectly normal and unworthy of further comment. I’m just going to assume that they ARE strange and obsessive, otherwise this post will be, alas, meaningless; unlike all my other posts that are heavy with significance and import.


I was a nail-biter until I was about 23 years old, and when I say “nail-biter,” I mean I would bite them until they hurt and bled. When I did finally quit that habit, I went in the entirely other direction: I now keep my nails polished and filed at all times. You might not think this is a noteworthy thing, but the detail I have not yet divulged is that all my nails must be the same length. If one nail breaks, then I file all the other nails down to the exact same length.

Gratuitous Friday night wine shot!

Public Toilets

Most public toilets these days are automatic-flush, which is a wonderful thing for those of us who have a horror of, well, public toilets. I am unable to touch the flush lever on a public toilet with my hand; I always, always flush with my foot. Fortunately I’m pretty flexible. I have witnessed enough substandard hand washing in my lifetime to never touch a bathroom door knob with my hand; I always use the bottom of my shirt. I try not to think about what could be lurking in the bottom of my shirt.

Mailboxes and the Library Chute

Whenever I mail something, I always, without fail, check to see if it went in properly. Drop in a letter, close the chute, open it back up and check. Repeat that exact thing for the library chute. Never has a card or book NOT fallen to their destiny on the first try, but I cannot trust the past to accurately predict the future.

You know that scene in When Harry Met Sally, when Sally mails a pile of cards all individually, checking the mailbox after each one? Yet more proof that Sally Allbright is my cinematic spirit animal.

The Pre-Flight Spiel

When flight attendants go through their safety demonstration, I always – and the boys have been trained to do this as well – stop whatever I’m doing, take the laminated pictorial instructions out of the seat back, and listen. Sure, I already know that in the unlikely event that the cabin loses pressure, I need to don the little yellow thing over my mouth and nose before helping anyone, and that my flotation device is underneath my seat, and that you can inflate the little vest by pulling on the little tags or, if that doesn’t work, blowing into it. But I listen anyway because it really seems rude not to. These people are doing their jobs! It takes less than two minutes for them to go through the entire demonstration! There is PLENTY of time in any flight to read our books or watch some ridiculous YouTube video or play a meaningless game on our phones or stare at the back of the seat like Puddy. If we cannot take two minutes out of our day to pay attention to someone doing their job to keep us safe during the miracle that is air travel, well, all is lost. We may as well all leave our goddamn carts helter-skelter pell-mell in every parking lot we ever attend, we may as well all just drop garbage on the ground because it’s easier than placing it in a proper receptacle, we may as well pee where we stand and shove old ladies out of the way to get to the front of the line at Walmart. We are LIVING in a SOCIETY. This is not just some the rules are there are no rules kind of world.

God, I have to take a few breaths here. Anyway. Listen to your flight attendant, that’s all I’m saying. Well, that and don’t touch anything in public washrooms, check the mailbox, and always have a nail file in your bag.


  1. I was a nail biter as a child – no matter what my mom did she couldn’t break the habit. One day, I somehow convinced myself that nail polish was “poisonous.” That was enough to break the habit – as long as I kept my nails polished I couldn’t bite them. I am also afflicted with the tendency to keep them all about the same length…otherwise? Chaos.

    • nicoleboyhouse says

      I agree, total chaos. I have to have them all painted with no chips, either, because if the polish chips then I’m tempted to peel it all off!

  2. bibliomama2 says

    I was a nail biter as a child too. I… have no memory of how I stopped. I’m thinking my parents might have sent me to some horrible aversion therapy thing and then wiped my memory, because now nail-biting is one of the grossest things I can imagine. I also have trouble imagining NOT filing all your nails to the same length – isn’t it weirder to have one short and the rest long? I don’t know the actual answer because I”m incapable of growing long nails. I think mine are just the wrong shape, in addition to the fact that it makes me feel even clumsier than I already am.

    The word “quirky” reminds me of when I was recovering from a stomach flu and Matt brought me some popsicles, and eight-year-old or so Eve said “I think it’s really cute that you only like the purple ones”. Our quirks make us charming, dammit, don’t let anyone tell you different.

    • nicoleboyhouse says

      Really? You don’t like the pink ones? I actually like all the colours, except for lime, I guess.

  3. I still listen to every safety demonstration as if my flight-attendant mother were sitting right next to me with her eyebrow raised.

  4. I deeply appreciate the several Seinfeld references herein.

    Also, I love hearing about others’ quirks; it gives me that comforting life-is-a-rich-tapestry feeling. I am with you on two (of these) counts: I listen intently to the safety demonstration on each flight (they are doing their JOB, be RESPECTFUL and LISTEN) and I have to have my nails all the same length (although when one chips or tears, I then bite all the others down to the same length. I AM A WORK IN PROGRESS.)

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