Published 12:00 am Friday, August 10, 2007

Sometimes, I get called Mavis at work. As in Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing ó a software typing tutorial.
I’m Mavis because I type like the wind ó not that typing like the wind will really get you anywhere in this life.
I discovered this gift in high school when I took a half year of personal typing and my teacher identified me as a prodigy. My parents were so proud.
If you’re going to be a prodigy, the typing kind is not what anyone would choose. But still, it’s something. Not everybody can type 100 words a minute. Sometimes, I can go faster, but at 100, I’m pretty accurate. (If you want to know how fast you type, there are free typing tests online ó just Google, “typing test.”)
My daughter Spencer seems to have inherited my flying fingers. She recently reminded me that a few years ago we both took an online typing test. She says she beat me, and I believe her, although I have no recollection of this competition.
If I spent as much time instant messaging my friends as she did, then maybe my number would be as high as hers is.
My mom also has fast fingers. In her day, I think she might have been the fastest pea sheller in Virginia. I used to run my fingers ragged trying to keep up with her.
I think everybody gets one or two strange gifts in life ó odd, unexplained things at which they excel to an unusual degree. Sometimes these gifts bring fame and fortune. And sometimes, they’ll even impress your kids.
Being able to whistle with two fingers at earsplitting decibel levels ó my other talent ó tends to make a big impression. You probably don’t want to be sitting beside me at a sporting event in which I’m really invested. My grampap taught me this skill, for which I will always be grateful.
I’ll never forget when my kids found out I had this talent. “MOMMY! How long have you been able to do that?” they screamed, delirious at the thought of having a mom who could do something so glamorous.
My daughter Quinn used to have preternatural memory skills. At the age of 4, she could run a concentration board the way a hustler runs a pool table. It was uncanny. It seems ironic now that her memory is what has been most affected by her brain tumor ó but the way I look at it, she got extra in the memory department so she’d have some to spare.
Then there’s my co-worker, Susan. Susan can type pretty fast herownself, though not quite as fast as Mavis (she’s the one who started calling me that).
But Susan has something else that makes her a freak of nature in my book ó the ability to remember practically any phone number she has ever dialed.
If I am Mavis, she is Rain Man.
She doesn’t know how to explain the way that battalions of 10-digit numbers march in an orderly way through her head. She will freely admit that she’s not that good at math. While I have pretty good math skills, I appear to have only about two brain cells devoted to remembering phone numbers.
I’ve taken to using Susan the way other people use a Rolodex.
“Hey, what’s Clyde’s number?” She doesn’t even think, just reels it off. It doesn’t matter if she hasn’t called Clyde in two years. She’ll remember. Me, I have to think before I can tentatively recite my own phone number.
Do you have a strange talent? If so, I’d love to hear about it.
I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with the information ó maybe there’s a feature story there, or maybe a funny column. E-mail me at kscarvey@salisburypost. com.
Contact Katie Scarvey at 704-797-4270 or