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scott c virtes

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Ms. North: A Quick Case Study
By scott c virtes
Friday, November 29, 2002



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I knew a girl who thought that north was whatever direction she was facing at the time...


I knew a girl who thought that north was whatever direction she was facing at the time. Some guys were teasing her about it one day, and I happened to be within earshot. When the guys left, I managed to put in a few gentler questions.

Apparently, she firmly believed that she always faced north. South was behind her, west was left, and east was right. This was a part of her System, her way of organizing information and coping with the world. As a result, she was extremely frustrated by maps and directions. When someone told her California was west of her (we were in New York at the time), she shrugged and said, "So?" When asked to point west, she held up her left arm without a moment's thought. To her, her System was correct, but she seemed to suspect that there might be a better way to get from place to place.

Since she lived west of work, I asked her how she made it to work in the morning if she always faced north. She said she looked out the window a lot.

"Besides, there are signs all over the freeways telling you which way to go."

I asked her how she could be on a road heading north, and turn a corner, and still be headed north. She replied that if she wanted to get to a Setauket (a nearby town), there were a zillion ways to get there, and none of the roads were straight. Since they all ended up in the same town, they were obviously all going in the same direction, probably north.

I showed her the North Star and told her all about it. She said it was very nice, but not much use in the daytime.

I asked her if she'd ever heard that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. She agreed. I pointed out that if she turned her back on the sunset, it would end up setting in the south. Since she wasn't looking, though, she challenged me to prove that it had actually set in the south. "But," I persisted, "if you were to face the sunset, you must agree that it would set in the north." Again, she evaded reason, asserting that she knew better than to look at the sun.

All in all, she had developed a very intricate set of conflicting theories to cover up her one faulty assumption. As it turned out, she had a party a few months later, and I discovered that her bedroom faced due north, and she had lived in that house since she was three years old. The sun rose in the eastern windows, and set in the western ones. Every morning, she woke up truly facing north. Perhaps a parent had pointed this out to her when she was younger. In any case, it made her world complete, in a strange kind of way.

=== END ===

written :101891/102291

published in Marbles ezine (4/96)

       Web Site: SCV Tales

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Reviewed by alex dihes (алик дайхес) 8/4/2008
you heve encountered a good theme. your developing of it is interesting. yet the funale is not right. the finale is like snip of an info ih a newspaper. you advise you to think it over and re-work. to show how the girl ether get convinced she is right or, more common, learns she is wrong. it is up to your perseption of the reality.

good luck.
my best wishes
Reviewed by Chrissy McVay 12/26/2005
Living in the mountain of Western North Carolina, we are forced to trust the sun for direction, but it never 'feels' correct. On a cloudy day, we'd be lost without a compass...
Reviewed by anne cunningham 3/8/2004
this cracked me up ... i agree with valerie ... an "odd duck" and a "quirky character" but oddly, a duck/character you just gotta love.
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 3/23/2003
entertaining read
Reviewed by Valerie F. de Daulles 11/30/2002
What an odd duck. And a quirky character. Interesting little character study.




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