We all want our stuff a certain way.
Well, let me back up.
We all want certain things a certain way.
For example, somehow, some way, I’ve come up against this thing several times in the past few months:
This is a Chemex, and if you haven’t heard about it, BOY OH BOY it’s time to buckle up. A Chemex is a coffee pot. But it’s not your ordinary coffee pot. Well, yeah, it’s an ordinary coffee pot, but it also has MAGICAL POWERS. The power to transform an otherwise ordinary human being into an absolutely insufferable coffee snob. The power to infuse said human’s vocabulary with nonsensical coffee jargon like “brewology.” The ability to cause friends and acquaintances of that person to, in tiny, almost unnoticeable ways, hate that person.
There are videos dedicated to the Chemex and how to best use it. There are detailed, multi-step guides with entire nested webpages devoted to it. In particular, one of my favorite authors of late and one of my favorite youtube channels have both written and explained in great and grating detail how much they love their Chemex.
The secret behind it (apparently, if you buy into all that neo-hippie coffee-infatuada nonsense) is: you like coffee, sure, but you’re not getting the most out of your coffee.
With that, you fall down the rabbit hole. You buy the thing. You have to get the right filters to go with the thing, filters made from recycled thousand-year-old rainforest wood. You have to get the right coffee beans for your particular demographic and unique taste. You have to hand grind the beans using stones purified in the bowels of goats. You have to boil your water in a kettle, preferably one consecrated by an aged, castrated bishop. The boiling must be done using a hand-torch crafted by the elders of unnamed tribes in the heart of Africa. The steam must not be allowed to escape; you must inhale every molecule to open up your nose for the taste explosion that’s about to happen.
And I hear about this, and I ponder on my life and the choices I’ve made, and I find myself starting to think, well, hot holy hell, maybe I should get one — I AM missing out on this vital part of the coffee experience. Except I don’t drink coffee. And I really find all this gobbledygook about filters and glass and grinding and inhaling to be utter nonsense. Not only nonsense, but wasteful and snobbish nonsense, the worst kind. If you want a cup of coffee, just make a cup of coffee and get on with your life — why do you need to devote twenty minutes of your morning to it?
So I prepare to make a scathing diatribe about exactly how foolish it is. An all-out attack, not just on users of this product, but on anybody who gets at all uptight about their coffee. IT’S JUST BEANS.
But when I pull back to let this stone fly, I pause, because I catch my own reflection in the walls of this glass house I live in.
Sure, I couldn’t give two randy Sharknados about coffee, but you’d better believe I’ve got my own series of oddities.
I could go on and on and on about the “right” running shoes and the “right” way to run. How your shoe needs to provide protection from the ground but not insulate your foot from feeling the bumps in the road. How you need to adjust your footstrike (and there I go using nonsensical jargon) to properly engage the musculature of the leg and the back. How the average runner should aim to run on trails from time to time rather than pounding pavement all the time because of the instability the body has to deal with.
I could ramble for ages about my writing process. The right music to help empty and focus my mind, the right programs to capture the draft and insulate myself from distractions. When writing longhand, I much, much, much prefer pencil to pen; the faint skritch of graphite on paper is soothing beyond words. Preferably, it’s a .7 gauge mechanical pencil: smaller and the lead breaks too easily, larger and I feel like I’m writing with a freaking crayon. But if it must be pen, then it’s got to be a Pilot g2. The ink slides out like a seal slathered in syrup, and there’s a crease in the grip that settles right into the grooves in my index finger, and let’s just leave it there before it starts getting uncomfortable in here.
Or shaving. I’ve become one of these guys about shaving recently (though not as bad as some); I use soap or cream from a tub, lather with a brush, shave with an old-school double-edged blade (1000 blades for $10, how could this not be for me?!?!).
For that matter, here’s a not-at-all-exhaustive, by-no-means-in-order-of-importance list of things I feel unnecessarily strongly about, that I have to have just so:
- The angle at which papers should be stapled (Diagonal, about thirty degrees from horizontal)
- The consistency of scrambled eggs (still moist but not runny)
- The position of my hands on a steering wheel (either one resting on top while the other holds at about eight o’clock, or at 10:30 and 1:30)
- The delay between when a traffic light changes and when I have a right to honk at you for not noticing the light has changed (three seconds; less is draconian, more and … well, we have places to be, don’t we?)
- Shoes in general (the flatter the better, and I could very well give up on dress shoes altogether tomorrow and feel not a bit upset about it; in fact, I could almost give up on shoes as a whole altogether)
The amount of thought and mental distress I’ve experienced over these things is probably much more than I feel comfortable discussing, but suffice it to say, I have realized that humans, as a rule, are a weird bunch.
We gravitate toward others who are weird like us.
We are repelled, or at least puzzled, by others whose weird we don’t understand.
Point is, you can take your gross weird coffee snobbery and your gross weird birdwatching and your gross weird homemade macaroni replicas of famous renaissance monarchs and stay the hell away from me. Go over there. In the corner. Where it’s dark. And weird.
Of course, you can have all you like of my awesome, cool, somewhat-nerdy-but-ultimately-enviable weird.
But I’ll ask, just because I’m curious.
What’s your weird?