Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Spatially Retarded Card

As a primer, there are three basic types of Learning:

Verbal Proposition – reading, listening, lecturing. This is the way we learn in school, the typical way that we recognize intelligence. It is more than just ‘book smarts’, but ‘book smarts’ are completely within this category.

Spatial – This is the ability to remember, recall and correlate the physical world. Sense of direction, ability to recall/understand layout, and facial recognition are included in this category.

Procedural – The hardest to test, define or notice. The ability to recall the steps to accomplishing a task; the ability to formulate the necessary steps; the ability to see the beginning of a project or situation and visualize the end result; the ability to see a final project or situation and recognize what had to come first.

My spatial ability Sucks. Really.

I came in late to a Cognitive Psychology lecture discussing this topic, missing the introduction. My mind was blown as the professor explained exactly how I navigate the world. He described moving about deliberately and being forced to make detailed mental notes in order to understand and remember the layout of a neighborhood or building. He then explained that this also worked with faces. The distinctive features of each individual face would be recognized, categorized and then assigned to the person’s name along with a few facts to pin the person to a setting, relationship or point of view. I was so very excited, because he was perfectly describing my life. Then my happiness bubble burst when I realized that he was describing how difficult it would be to go through life with inadequate spatial abilities.

Shit – I’m retarded!

In the years since I first learned this, I have found my peace with this knowledge. Now I use this information as an excuse for my bumbling, constantly getting lost or spun around in the wrong direction. I sort of want to take a spatial intelligence test just to find out how miserable I really am. Maybe I could get some sort of disability insurance for it. Or at least a Get-Out-Of-Forgetting-People’s-Names Free Card or discounts on maps.

Friends and especially the boys I date come to quickly learn that I generally don’t remember where I have been, how I got there and certainly not how to get there again unless I was somehow deliberate in remembering it. People who are savvy will learn to do the opposite of what I suggest in terms of directions. They become concerned when I say things such as, "I think it is North of here," or "I’m not really sure, but I believe it is up ahead." Strangely, the boys that I date usually have fantastic senses of direction, so they are completely amazed by my brand of retarded. Their frustration usually just morphs into helpless humor once they experience a few situations where my complete lack of knowledge (and usually lack of concern, too) about my surroundings becomes ridiculously apparent.

I also use my lack of spatial ability to justify my inability to recognize faces. On Friday night at the Critical Mass Happy Hour, two different people, who I thought I had never seen before, were dismayed that I didn’t remember them. The first guy, Joe was a friend of Sean’s and he explained that this was the fourth time that we had met. I didn’t remember having met him at these other times either, according to him. After we talked I distinctly remembered meeting him a week earlier, but I don’t remember other times. A woman named Kate also said hello and greeted me by name. She didn’t even bring a glimmer of recognition to me. Later on we were talking and she said, "Oh, I’m getting used to it. Everyone knows who you are, but you never remember us." Ouch. Definitely not the reputation I want to have.

I need the Spatially Retarded Card to wave around in these instances, or just pin to my shirt.


At 5:23 AM, Blogger George said...

Hey, if you get one of those cards-lemme know where ya got it from-I need one too.

My wife thinks I am going senile-I am totally shitty at remembering names and faces.

At 6:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is me also!
Is it a genuine recognised condition?

I am fine with faces in context but not out of, I worry I'll forget what my own kids look like when they start school!

At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My sense of direction is probably as bad as yours. About 6 hrs ago I had to make 3 consecutive U-turns while trying to find my way out of a shopping complex. I also somehow ended up on the high-way when all I wanted was to go in one direction. My best friend describes me as having Anti-Directional-Senses or a Negative-Sense of Direction, as I almost always end up heading in the exact opposite direction I am trying to go.

I never forget a face. I don't know how. In fact, I remember faces so well that I often recognize people whom I have never seen before because my mind is somehow able to remember slight details on faces, which I am then able to make out on another's face.

I never remember names though, and have poor memory all around.

At 5:03 PM, Blogger Lainiebug said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 5:04 PM, Blogger Lainiebug said...

I get lost going places the 6th time and can't place people I've met.


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