On the sauce: reflections.

Mr E Man’s quest to find the best ribs in Vancouver is over: he’s admitted that he’s unlikely to find anywhere that makes them better than Ouisi’s does, and so that’s where we found ourselves when a craving hit him on Saturday night.

These ribs really are good (yes, I tithed my usual amount, after donating a similarly sized amount of my yummy chicken). And naturally, a little of the sauce found its way onto Mr E Man’s face. Wishing to discreetly draw his attention to this fact, I touched my own face on one side of my mouth…

…and he promptly wiped the wrong side of his face with the napkin.

This always happens to us. The reason is that when Mr E Man’s telling me that I have something on my face, his instinct is to touch his face in a mirror image of mine. So if I have sauce on the left hand side of my face, he’ll touch the right hand side of his own, which is on my left as I’m facing him. But I do it the other way around: if Mr E Man has sauce on the left hand side of his face, my instinct is to touch the left hand side of my own face, which is on his right as he’s looking at me and therefore not directly opposite where the sauce actually is. I sometimes manage to remember that we do it differently, and so I do it his way, in a mirror image; however, this usually happens at the same time that he remembers that we do it differently, and he still goes to wipe the wrong side of his face. This double-bluff situation is what confounded us last week.

Naturally, Mr E Man thinks I’m a freak, and he may well be correct. But I did, of course, have to try and defend myself by explaining why I do things the way I do. What I came up with is that my training in the life sciences involved looking at lots of diagrams like this one:

where the appendix is on the left hand side of the drawing, but the right hand side of your actual body. Other possible explanations include gender- and country-specific practices.

So, O Wise Readers… am I a freak, or does anyone else do the “you have a little something on your face” thing my way? Do you think the difference has anything to do with gender, age, nationality, or scientific training?

I hereby agree to abide by my readers’ decision, and to allow Mr E Man to call me a freak if warranted by the results of this informal survey.

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
This entry was posted in communication, first world problems, food glorious food, freakishness, personal, science, silliness. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to On the sauce: reflections.

  1. chall says:

    haha! I would point to MY equivalent side…. You have sauce on your left, I point to my left… then again, I’m left handed… 😉 (didn’t think about the pictures of people but sure enough, I’ve studied the similar stuff like you…)

    As for best [BBQ] ribs, I suggest Mr E Man and yourself take a little trip to the South of US. I’ll be happy to guide you around 🙂

  2. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Yay, the “Cath is not a freak” side is winning on a unanimous vote! Maybe I should close the poll right now… but I guess then we won’t know whether this is a female, European, and/or scientist thing! (Mr E Man and I are both right handed, so it’s not that).

    I’d love to come and tour BBQ country some time! I’ll keep you posted 🙂

  3. cromercrox says:

    Don’t ask me. I can spell difficult words like ‘Paracyclotosaurus’ and ‘buttered toast’, but I still have to think – hard – when asked to tell my left from my right.

  4. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    I believe that’s pretty common!

    But do you do mirror-image-style or anatomy-diagram-style alerts to sauce on the face?

  5. bean-mom says:

    Hmmm, I’m leaning toward Mr. E Man’s take of “Cath is a freak” =) My husband and I both “mirror” the way Mr. E. Man does. Is this a North American versus European type thing?

  6. Steve Caplan says:

    When you get “sauced” it’s hard to think straight…

  7. Natalie says:

    I definitely do the “intro-bio” version of pointing something out to my husband: if the sauce if on his left side, I point to my left side. Ask Mr. E Man: if your at Old Aunt Milley’s house, sitting side-by-side at the thanksgiving table, are you still adhering to the mirror image/symmetry thing? ‘Cause that gets tricky, sauce or no sauce.

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Excellent point – mirror-imagers would have to change their approach when sitting side-by-side, whereas anatomy-diagrammers wouldn’t. Hmmm.

  8. rpg says:

    You’re no freak. I’ve always done the ‘anatomy’ way. But this confuses Jenny, who’s used to the mirror way.

  9. Beth says:

    Sorry, Cath, but I’m with Mr. E Man on this one. Mirror image all the way!

  10. ricardipus says:

    I believe this is related to the “turning the map around so it’s pointed the same way you are” approach to navigation. An approach espoused (geddit?) by certain members of my family, but not others oh no no no not at all.

    And: (a) you’re a freak, but not for this particular reason, and (b) your method makes perfect sense to me, but not to certain other members etc. etc. etc.

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      I can navigate without turning the map around, but I find it MUCH easier if I do turn the map. Really, why wouldn’t you?!

  11. Mike says:

    Mrs F and I also differ in this respect – I’m a “my right side = your right side” kinda guy, she’s a mirror imager. This probably means our wee man will grow up with food permanently stuck to his face.

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Either that or he’ll be an obsessive-compulsive face wiper, never sure if either side of his face is truly clean… I say don’t tell him to clean sauce off his face until he’s old enough to pick his own method 🙂

  12. Uhmm, I just ask your right or mine. Makes life easier. Whether you’re a freak or not is not for me to judge, since I think we have alot of similarities and I hate to be the pot calling the kettle black.

    And Ricardipus – OF COURSE you have to turn the map around to be the same direction as one is travelling, otherwise how do you know which way to turn. If you’re not in a city where North and West are easily distinguised due to things like mountains and water, figuring it out can be hard.

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      A friend of mine once gave some out-of-town visitors directions that included “turn North, which is toward the mountains, at Cambie, then take the second left”. Of course, when they arrived it was one of those rainy days where the cloud was so low they couldn’t see the mountains, and they had to call for clarification. It didn’t help that one of the other landmarks she’d given them was a coffee shop called the Daily Perk, but she somehow confused real life with Friends and told them to turn right at Central Perk…

  13. Alyssa says:

    OMG – DH and I are the exact same way! LOL!

  14. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    What did I start?! This is worse than the debate over whether toilet paper should be hung with the loose end at the front or the back!

    Well, clearly there is no One True Way – which I find very interesting – and no watertight association with gender, scientific training, or continent of origin! Although I like Natalie’s point that the mirror image way only works if you’re actually sitting opposite each other!

  15. Really the clouds were low enough that you couldn’t see the mountains?!! I think I’ve blocked all those days from my mind, or maybe I just “know” where the mountains are…

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Yup – sometimes you really can’t see them, and wouldn’t even know there were mountains there if you hadn’t seen them on a clear day!

  16. ricardipus says:

    Ha! I grew up in Kingston, a city characterized by many things including a large bend in the Lake Ontario coastline where it meets the Rideau River. To this day I can have confusing conversations with my parents as to whether certain streets run south to the lake, or east to the lake (or north or west in the opposite direction).

    I need a GPS, I think.

  17. Natalie says:

    Upon further reflection, my husband and I might have pin-pointed why your husband defaults to mirror-image: he reads building plans. See my husband is a carpenter, and he explained that a right-swing door is always described as if the reference point is outside the room (looking in). If the hinges are on the viewer’s right hand side, then it’s a right-swing door. Just the opposite of an anatomical drawing.

    Our way is still better.

  18. I just shout, as loud as I possibly can “Hey babe, you have something on your face!”

    No need to point.

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Well, that approach certainly works too, although it’s somewhat lacking in discretion.

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