In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.
Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find more columns by Palmer here.
Steamboat Springs I love odd behavior. I love it so much I keep a running list of strange habits and quirky behavior in a notebook on my desk. On my list are things like, "Wearing a baseball cap to bed," "Can't kiss in the bathroom," and "Sorting M&M candy by color."
Most of the time, I just make a note of something I observe, but occasionally, if it's a bureaucratic bugaboo, I will challenge it, such as the time I called the intensive care unit of a hospital and the on-hold music played the 1968 Traffic song "Feelin' Alright." You know the one, popularly covered by Joe Cocker that goes: "You feelin' all right? I'm not feelin' too good myself. : Well, you feelin' all right? I'm not feelin' too good myself. ..."
I had to respond.
"Um, excuse me, but do you know what your on-hold music is?"
The nurse sighed. "Yes, we get a lot of complaints about it," she responded wearily.
"Why don't you change it? Some classical music might be better."
"Well, it's been all the way up to the CEO of the hospital but nothing seems to happen."
My reservations about this hospital only intensified when, later in the day, I went to visit my friend and passed a sign that read, "On the cutting edge of surgical procedures."
Naturally, I flipped open the geeky little notebook I carry with me and jotted it down. One of my many quirky habits is that I can't take notes in an expensive notebook.
A pricey notebook with gilt edges and a leather cover intimidates me. It seems to command lofty, highly intellectual thoughts - of which I have very few - and so I always buy the cheapest notebook I can find.
I love quirky behavior because predictable behavior is, well, too predictable and boring, like knowing the punch line to a joke.
Quirky people think outside the box, color outside the lines and are guaranteed to make interesting dinner guests. Because I've elevated quirky behavior to an art form, I should be on the guest list to every party in town.
Here are a few more oddball things I do:
I have to rub my feet together before I go to sleep.
If something doesn't work on my computer, I keep pressing, then pounding the key, thinking that will improve things. It never does.
Despite the benefits, I rarely floss my teeth.
At a four-way stop sign, I never know when it's my turn. I zone out.
I do not read the instructions first.
I like to observe people and their paper napkins. Stressed out people wad up their napkins, angry people surreptitiously tear the napkin into little pieces and stuff it underneath their plate or silverware and neat-niks will fold and smooth their napkins repeatedly.
Asparagus is the only vegetable I eat with my fingers.
I read the newspaper backward. I like to check out the classifieds and read my horoscope first.
I scoop ice cream out of the container into a bowl, and then I happily eat it out of the ice cream container. When I'm completely stuffed, I eat what's in the bowl. Then, I feel happy, but sick.
Frequently, I only empty one-half of the dishwasher. The top rack is fun. The bottom rack is not. I don't like to sort the silverware.
I come by my quirky behavior naturally.
My mother has slept in the same nightshirt for 20 years. I gave it to her one fateful Christmas, and she hasn't worn another one since.
She has an expensive nightgown in her closet, covered in plastic, in case she needs to look presentable in a hospital bed, but I predict she will never wear it.
Now I have the perfect excuse, an easy out, for my quirky behavior. From this day forward I'll just say, "It runs in the family."