I’ve always been a bit of a slow lass. Not slow in mental functions as such, (although that sometimes too), but slow at getting things done. I always knew I wouldn’t be able to fulfil my dream of running a sandwich bar for example; I had to face facts – I would make my customers late back after their lunch breaks because I spent too long spreading their butter into the corners equally. My arduous arrangement of lettuce would have them on a disciplinary before a week of patronage was out, and if they hung around for a toastie I’d be delivering it to them as a bedtime snack. The next day.
I’ve always taken a bit longer to do things. Ablutions in particular are a curiously slow affair. I’ve seen people whip in and out of the shower in 2 minutes and they haven’t overlooked a single crevice. A quick shower for me is 10 minutes. A normal one is definitely over 15. I genuinely don’t think I can do it any quicker. I have tried, but it results in me dropping soap, accidentally exfoliating my eye, or only shaving one leg. Part of me wants to film myself having a shower next to a big clock with an accompanying step-by-step commentary to share with selected friends to see how I can improve, but I think they’d definitely worry I was developing a rather niche exhibitionism problem.
Shoelaces. Slow. Making sure I have everything I need. Dead slow. Slow to anger, slow to eat (and growing slower fast), slow to see that some people aren’t worth bothering with. Slow to take the plunge, slow to cook. Slow reader, slow realiser, slow adopter of the new. Slow to say goodbye, slow to leave the pub.
But I think mainly – and I’m going to get all deep here – of all my slownesses, weeing is the one that annoys me the most. Man I’m slow. I could enter a cubicle at the same time as another woman (separate cubicles, usually) and I will still be pulling down my pants as she is zipping up and flushing. I sit there, skirt around my knees, wondering what’s wrong with me. She’s back at the table glass in hand while I’m unlocking the door and struggling (slowly) with the weirdy sensor taps that have no instructions or visible outlets.
I wonder what shapes the pace we go through life with. Whether it is quite literally the wiring in our brains, the unique set of impulses throttled down through nerves and chemicals and marionetting us to its own will, our pace reliant upon and prey to the origin of all our cerebral functions – or if it’s something we subconsciously choose. Do we as children start looking out at the world, in puzzling it over, somewhere decide in our souls that we will decide our own approach, our own response. One kid tears around as another counts the woodlice. Is it our choice?
I once broke up with someone who lived at a pace totally at odds with mine. He was fast fast fast and I was slow. Breaking away was like hopping off a souped-up carousel, dizzying and odd – but after readjusting I settled back into the pace I did not know I had abandoned. Everything seemed right again.
Being slow might be annoying sometimes, it might even mean you get less stuff done, (or it could mean you do your things more thoroughly, perhaps even better) but our natural pace is just one of the many things that make us who we are, and we should gently protect it while life bustles us about.