I’m not talking about occasionally turning left when you should’ve turned right. What I’m referring to is the knack for getting lost every single time one pulls out of the driveway. (I once got lost in my driveway.) You people with a natural sense of true north have no idea what I mean, I’m sure. Ever notice those friends who are mostly fabulous at Trivial Pursuit, except that they never seem to be able to capture that coveted blue pie piece? Geographically challenged. The blue pie piece represents geography, and remains frustratingly elusive to us.
It’s a problem with many repercussions. When socializing, I cannot contribute to any conversation that references a street in town. “You know, down on Marigold Street. Just past the consignment shop.” No. I don’t know, and I can’t find it, even if I’ve accidentally stumbled across that consignment shop four times in the past. If I have to meet someone somewhere new, I’ll ask them to verify the address six or seventeen times, which I’ll admit is pointless, because I still won’t make it. The phrase “I think I’ve been lost here before” is a common one in my car, and completely truthful. I’ve been lost on many, many roads along the Eastern Seaboard. I like to think of myself as an accidental tourist.
I once pulled out of a parking lot and questioned which side of the road we drive on here in the States. I should point out that I’ve never traveled to any country where they drive on the other side of the road. There was no logical reason why I shouldn’t have instinctively known to stay to the right of the double yellow lines. But for a moment, I got myself turned around. If not for the angry pedestrian walking his rather large, rather rabid-looking St. Bernard that I almost hit, I’d probably still be driving on the wrong side. (The dog owner also shouted some colorful new epithets that I’ve since stolen and made my own, so bonus.)
Please, you directionally savvy people, don’t dismiss the geographically challenged with “get a GPS” or “use Google Maps.” Both of these tools, we can assure you, are imperfect. Because we are so dependent on them, we follow their instructions to the letter. “Turn left in 400 feet.” Exactly 400 feet later, which is incidentally 8 feet after the stoplight, we’ll turn left, and find ourselves on the lawn of a golf course being attacked by geese. And make one little typo (Windsor, CT, instead of Windsor Locks, CT, is a really easy one to make) and our golf-course goose is cooked.
On behalf of the geographically challenged, I’d like to offer a blanket apology. We’re not making it to your party, or book club, or wedding. We’re undoubtedly stuck on the George Washington Bridge, wondering why Newport is so congested.