Got the wrong idea?
October 26, 2010 2:38 PM   Subscribe

Remember the time Michael Scott went to New York, pointed over at Sbarro's, and said, "My favorite New York pizza joint!"... I'm looking for similar examples of "missing the point", or coming home with the wrong idea.

I've read the ur doin it wrong thread, and some of those are good, but mostly they are examples of, well, doing it wrong. I would love to hear some examples of completely missing the point, "thinking" it wrong, coming up with the wrong conclusion, etc. Kind of like this xkcd comic...
posted by eleyna to Grab Bag (77 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Reminds me of the film I Think We're Alone Now, about two down and out people who each (separately) are obsessed with the 80's pop star Tiffany, professing to love and personally know the singer regardless of the plentiful evidence to the contrary.
posted by hermitosis at 2:45 PM on October 26, 2010

There's a great gift shop in the National Gallery of Art West building. Lining the walls are framed prints of all sorts of famous works, with information placards and prices, nice frames, good-quality prints, in the $200-$500 range. I've seen lots of people having their pictures taken posing next to the prints.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:48 PM on October 26, 2010 [9 favorites]

Dramatic irony?
posted by proj at 2:49 PM on October 26, 2010

Simiarly, I went to a Picasso exhibition, something like 150 of his most famous pre-Blue period pieces, at the National Gallery. As we were leaving, a buddy of mine said "Man, can you imagine how much that'd all be worth if they were the real paintings." He honestly thought I was bullshitting him when I explained, well, the obvious.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:50 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Many of the characters in Christopher Guest's movies are sublimely this.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:51 PM on October 26, 2010 [6 favorites]

DU's recent anecdote in the blue seems to fit:

My wife recently dealt with an acquaintance who was going off dairy to alleviate some medical condition. She was despairing that this meant she couldn't have muffins because they contain eggs. Multiple people explained the eggs come from chickens, which do not give milk, indeed are not even mammals. Eventually she (the acquaintance) gave up the entire project because it was "too complicated".
posted by amyms at 2:53 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

Well, I have a great story. Before I met him, my husband went with a group of his friends from Atlanta to Epcot. At Epcot, of course, the staff in the various restaurants are international. At one of these, the waiter learned that the group was from Atlanta, and said, "Hey, I'm going to Atlanta soon, what places/sights would you recommend?"

One of the guys said, "Well, there is this coffee shop next to Barnes and Noble on Peachtree that has very good coffee. I think it is called Starbucks?"

Prehubby and friends spent the entire rest of the trip pointing out Starbuckses to this guy, which meant something like every 5 minutes. "Hey! There's another one!"

(I don't know if they ever did tell the poor waiter what's good to do in Atlanta.)
posted by galadriel at 2:54 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Check your local newspapers. Invariably, they will have a "Top X in the city as voted by our readers" list. Like, "Best Italian Restaurants," "Best Ice Cream Shop," etc., etc.

Just as invariably, you'll see chains on this list. Best Italian Restaurant? Olive Garden.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:04 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

When I was in a creative writing MFA program, one of the other students came to a meeting all excited because she'd just learned about this magazine that published fiction and she was going to send them something and she thought the rest of us should know about it, too. It was called The Atlantic.

One thing I notice some of these stories have in common is not knowing the cultural niche a thing occupies. I remember being broken hearted I couldn't get Win Schuler's bar scheeze after I moved to NJ from MI--I had no idea it was a regional project. And right now, I don't watch a lot of TV, or read many popular magazines, so I often don't know what relationship something I come across and like has to the culture at large--when I first discovered NCIS while channel-flipping, I thought it was some cheap, bad, but kind of fun obscure show made and aired by some high-number second-rate cable channel. And then I saw a magazine headline in the checkout that called it the nation's #1 show. If I'd talked about it to anybody, I'd have been like, "hey, have you heard of this obscure show?" and they'd have laughed at me. I just didn't consume that particular medium in a way that told me that meta-information about the show.

I have that a lot with music, too. I find new music because my friends mention things on facebook pages or some blogger mentions it, and then I listen to it. And then there I am with this CD I like but I don't know if I'm listening to some obscure band my friend only knew about because she's into that kind of thing, or to a CD that had three hit singles last year.

This isn't a smug, "Is this the kind of thing I'd have to have a TV to know about" comment. It's just kind of where I'm at right now.
posted by not that girl at 3:04 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

And my personal favorite ...

I'm in the National Gallery of Art. The rule is, you can't wear backpacks on your back. You'll turn around, swing the backpack, and inadvertently damage an item on display.

A woman is wearing a backpack. A guard gently requests that she hold the backpack in her hand during her visit.

"But why?"
"Because you'll turn around, swing the backpack and hit something."
"Hit what?"
"The things on display."
"But why do you want to protect them?"
Silence. The guard looks at me in disbelief. Then looks back at the woman.
"Goddamn, lady. These are priceless works of art."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:08 PM on October 26, 2010 [29 favorites]

Here's another favorite example -- the Hanson Brothers from Slap Shot. They're way, way excited just to be on the team. And they're wrapping their knuckles in aluminum foil, so they can punch harder.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:13 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

My parents are very unworldly and are amazing for this sort of thing.
  • When I told them that I took my SO to a cajun restaurant, they said “Like Bojangles?”
  • When I told them that I had been accepted into a relatively prestigious school, my mom said that I should consider something “closer to home”—one of the tiny, overpriced private schools in a nearby town.
  • I told them that I had a glass of wine at a restaurant, and I got a lecture about the perils of drunk driving.
  • I ordered something for them from Amazon, and my mom looked at me worriedly: “You didn't use your card, did you?”
  • When my SO wanted to meet my parents, my parents (after we evaded a number of excuses) asked which restaurant we wanted to go to—Arby's, maybe?
  • I cooked pasta for them. Made the sauce on the stove. In a pan. They asked what brand it was, so they could buy some.
  • I used a stainless steel pan to cook said sauce. My mom asked whether it was safe to use, since the nonstick had come off. (She used cast iron or teflon, nothing else.)
I'll stop there. I'm getting depressed.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:27 PM on October 26, 2010 [8 favorites]

When my sister was assigned Catcher in the Rye for a high-school English class, she complained that she didn't get it. Our dad says, "well, who does Holden remind you of?" hoping to elicit the answer "myself."

My sister replies "Adam."
posted by adamrice at 3:31 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

I love it when people tell me the best way to solve the Rubik's cube is to take the stickers off and put them back on. They don't really go back on right afterward. The best way to solve the Rubik's cube is to read the little instruction book that most of them came with. All seven algorithms are right there.

(Some of them didn't come with one, granted, but if someone offers to teach you, take them up on it. Really, it's not very difficult. And everyone else thinks you're a genius, for some reason.)
posted by phoebus at 3:45 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Following along with The Office theme...

Dwight: "Security in this office park is a joke. Last year I came to work with my spud-gun in a duffel bag. I sat at my desk all day with a rifle that shoots potatoes at 60 pounds per square inch. Can you imagine if I was deranged?"

My sister replies "Adam."

Adam as in you? Holden totally reminded me of my brother. I suppose I related to Phoebe.

posted by morganannie at 3:51 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

I was standing in line at 7/11 some years ago with a couple friends when my eye caught this sign. Flabbergasted, I opined, "Who the hell would carry a We Card on them? Why would anyone register for that when you can just use your driver's license?"

I was laughed out of the store.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 3:55 PM on October 26, 2010 [17 favorites]

When I was younger, maybe 16 or so, my grandparents were visiting from London and I happened to take them to Jack in the Box for lunch. My grandfather approached the counter and said "three for lunch please".
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:57 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

There's the apocryphal "Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?".
posted by mhum at 4:00 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

I went to college in Amish country. The New York City-based family of a prospective student went driving around while their son stayed on campus. They returned to the admissions office extremely pissed off that "those people you hired to wear the funny old clothes and drive around in carts won't pose for pictures! You should FIRE those A-mish!"
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:15 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

You'll find lots of examples on sites like Mock the Stupid or Not Always Right.

A few quotes:

AP Government class (senior year). Talking about how stocks in airlines plummeted after 9/11. Girl asks "So why didn't those on the hijacked flights call their families and tell them to take the stocks out of the airlines?"

First day of grad school, I'm chatting with a girl:
Me : bla bla bla, so umm yeah I'm half-Thai half-French.
Her : Wow, were you born on the border?

"Why did the Indians always build ruins"- Girl on my tour bus. I cried a little.

So I overhear a discussion about the AIDS epidemic in Africa. A woman says "I had NO IDEA that there were that many gays in Africa.".

I go to an exceptionally small private school. There's a particularly clueless freshman named Jordan who was made famous because of this little exchange during a school trip to Paris last summer.

Jordan: *suddenly turning to Matt* Hey Matt, can I ask you a question?
Matt: Uh, sure.
Jordan: *frowning in deep confusion* How do the French people...know what their WORDS mean....if they DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH?
Matt: ...

(A young girl of 18 or 19, clearly a first-time voter, skips the line and rushes up to my table.)

Me: “I’m sorry, you’ll have to wait. There’s a line.”
Voter: “I’m sorry, but it’s important! I need to get my ballot paper back. I voted for the wrong person!”
Me: “Alright, give me the spoiled one.”
Voter: “I can’t. I put it in the box.”
Me: “Then I’m afraid we can’t get it back. The boxes can’t be opened until the end of voting at ten o’clock.”
Voter: “But I didn’t know! I don’t want the Conservatives to get in so I voted for [Conservative candidate]. I should have voted for someone else!”
Me: “Um, why did you vote for the Conservative?”
(The girl turns scarlet and looks utterly miserable.)
Voter: “I thought it was like TV where you vote them off!”

I was a college essay tutor for some extra cash. One student was close to sealing a football scholarship, but needed a decent essay. The college essay topic was "What are you afraid of?" His entire essay was as follows:

"I'm afraid of ghosts."

When I told him they expected more from an essay, that he had to explain more, he wrote:

"I'm afraid of ghosts because you be up on a roof and they scare you off."

I've never laughed harder. Because, when you think about it, that's a pretty decent reason to fear ghosts.
posted by martinrebas at 4:18 PM on October 26, 2010 [29 favorites]

There's a scene I remember from one of, I think, Douglass Copeland's novels, probably Generation X or Microserfs, where a kid is criticizing his mom for not using a biodegradable trash bag. She then takes the non-biodegradable bad, full of garbage or lawn clippings or whatever, and places it inside a biodegradable bag, all content that she did the right thing.
posted by bondcliff at 4:21 PM on October 26, 2010

An acquaintance once told me that she exclusively drinks Fiji Brand bottled water because she checked the label once and was impressed that it was 0 calories.
posted by arianell at 4:53 PM on October 26, 2010

Marge/Blanche: Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers...

(music begins)

Cast: You can always depend on the kindness of strangers...
To pluck up your spirits, and shield you from dangers...

Marge/Blanche: Now here's a tip from Blanche you won't regret...

Cast: A stranger's just a friend you haven't met...
You haven't met...
posted by oflinkey at 4:57 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

I teach college freshman. Their assignments are submitted as electronic files, using a particular naming convention: last name_first name_name_of_assignment

Every semester I have to give them this little reminder: "last name first name" means your own last name, and your own first name, NOT the words "last name" and "first name."
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:58 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

In a HS lit class, the teacher did that thing where she assigns groups to "teach" things to the class, because it was the end of the year and she was exhausted. She gave us each a well-known 20th century short story to teach. One group of girls had Hills Like White Elephants, and honestly thought the story was about the man wanting the woman to get breast implants.

One of the same girls--I was helping her with a paper one time, trying for hours to explain the concept of a thesis statement. She finally got it, and then the next day returned with the draft of her paper. The thesis statement was "William Shakespeare: A Man of All Times, and of Our Times."
posted by Ideal Impulse at 5:01 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

My favorite moment from Beavis and Butthead was when a Paul Simon video came on and one of them called him "that African guy from the Beatles".
posted by bink at 5:05 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another example from teaching Shakekspeare:
I used to teach English at a private high school with extremely confident, privileged kids; we were studying Romeo and Juliet. One boy who thought he was very sophisticated complained, "I don't see what's so great about this play. 'Parting is such sweet sorrow' -- It's so cliche!"
posted by keener_sounds at 5:23 PM on October 26, 2010 [13 favorites]

I have a friend who is an English professor, and he keeps a blooper file from his students' papers. One of my favorites was when the student described something (unfortunately I forget what it was now) as "a virgin forest, pregnant with possibilities".

My other favorite was a paper he received on the British novelist Angus Wilson. The student had spelled the author's first name as 'Anus' throughout the paper. My friend marked the first occurrence with an asterisk and wrote in the margin, "means 'asshole'".
posted by trip and a half at 5:26 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Years ago when the Gwyneth Paltrow version of "Emma" came out I asked a friend if he was going to see it. "Why would I?" he responded. "Somebody told me it was just like "Clueless" but with old clothes."
posted by ambrosia at 5:35 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

Everyone here is doing it wrong. (Or, actually, doing it right. Not getting the point.)

The question isn't about simple ignorance or how your backwoods parents embarrass you.

It is ignorance plus wrong conclusion.

Here's another favorite example -- the Hanson Brothers from Slap Shot. They're way, way excited just to be on the team. And they're wrapping their knuckles in aluminum foil, so they can punch harder.

OK, there is no missing the point there. They were there to play hockey, which includes fighting. Especially in that fictional league.
posted by gjc at 5:37 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

A student once asked me "How old would I be if I were born in Egypt?"

15, same as in town.
posted by morganannie at 5:40 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Did you know a sign offering a Polish Wax does not mean the car wash does a special kind of wax-job, invented and perfected in Poland?

(Well I didn't.)
posted by Kloryne at 5:46 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

At the library where I work, we get this kind of thing all the time. Some patrons love to bitch about how the government spends too much, and their taxes are too high... right before they check out piles of DVDs and books. That, or they complain that they have to pay cash for photocopies or printouts, 'cause shouldn't it be free?

It's especially amusing (or irksome, depending on my mood that day) when people come in asking for Glenn Beck or Ayn Rand books, or I see Rand Paul bumper stickers in our parking lot.
posted by Rykey at 5:49 PM on October 26, 2010

A friend of mine had a pet turtle. A kid was at his house and he introduced the turtle to her, "I want you to meet my turtle, her name is Shelly." The kid said, "How do you know?"

(In this case, I really think the kid was on to something. And it's just so Art Linkletter.)
posted by Kloryne at 5:52 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]

When I was in high school, I took a world history class. One day my teacher was describing to us how, in the Middle Ages, when people were regularly beheaded, they would often tip the executioner so he would make a nice, clean sweep, therefore letting them have a (relatively) painless death.

A classmate raised her hand and said, "I don't understand. How would they tip the executioner? Would they turn him upside or something?"

Another story, from my MIL:
She and a few of her friends were discussing the TV show Rome, which was on HBO for awhile. The first season culminated in Julius Caesar's assassination, so the whole build-up was with the conspiracy plot and all that. One of my MIL's friends' daughter, in her late teens, overhead the women talking about the show. She came into the room and said, "OMG! I have been watching that too and I think they are going to kill Caesar!!"
posted by sutel at 5:55 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

In teaching, I've gotten the Last Name/First Name on assignments, too.

I'm probably doing this wrong, but it's too horrific not to share: During the World Cup in Japan/South Korea, there was an interview with an American family of four (the two kids were no older than elementary or junior high age) about how they were coping, staying in a foreign country for the duration of the World Cup, and how they liked Japan, what famous places they'd been to, and, because it's a fascination Japanese people have with asking foreigners about it, what they thought of Japanese food.

It turned out that, because it was a foreign country, and we all know how unsafe those are, the family had pretty much stayed in their hotel room when they weren't going to or from a game, and for the entire two week period they were in Japan, they'd evidently eaten nothing but McDonald's. Way to teach your kids about foreign cultures.

Of course, I remember hearing a British tourist complaining in Phuket that no one spoke English (which flagrantly wasn't true).
posted by Ghidorah at 6:03 PM on October 26, 2010

I'm a professor, and once or twice a semester I get emails from students who are sick of twisting their necks to read the assigned pdf document sideways on their computer monitors. They insist that I fix the document.
posted by umbú at 7:04 PM on October 26, 2010

Here's something I've encountered at least half a dozen times. Some people, including grown, adult women who have actually gestated and birthed one or more babies, believe that pregnancy "really" lasts 10 months, not 9, "because technically it's 40 weeks." The first time I heard this, I was 15 and I thought the woman was fucking with me. When I realized she wasn't kidding, I attempted to explain the flaw in her thinking, but she just looked at me blankly. Just thinking about the times this has happened makes me a little depressed.
posted by peep at 7:04 PM on October 26, 2010

I was in the Apple store with my mother-in-law and she asked if they had a section for Blackberries.
posted by Ostara at 7:11 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

When my parents traveled abroad, my mother always earnestly said the same thing when she returned. "It was wonderful, but it would have been so much better if they spoke English."

I took my daughter, who was 8 at the time, to the Hard Rock Cafe on 57th Street in Manhattan as she was a budding rock and rolla. Since we are NYers, I couldn't help grumbling a bit about the place being a terrible tourist trap. After we sat down, my daughter went to the Ladies' by herself. She came back and said, "Wow, this really is a tourist trap. They charge 25 cents for napkins in the bathroom!"
posted by thinkpiece at 7:52 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

My friend's mom is notorious for this.

My friend was taking a road trip to California. She called up her mom. "Hi Mom! I'm in New Mexico!"

Her mom gasped in horror. "But [Friend]! You don't have your passport!"
posted by castlebravo at 7:58 PM on October 26, 2010

Supposedly a fence company went with the slogan "good fences make good neighbors!" from the Frost poem "Mending Wall"...maybe they were aware and being snarky/wink wink, maybe not...
posted by ifjuly at 8:10 PM on October 26, 2010

The first batch of pesto I ever made was horrible.

Growing up in small town Ontario, the only basil I had ever known was the dried stuff you buy in a shaker jar at the supermarket.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:11 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

I often miss the big picture, and a while back I was trying to remember a book that I read as a kid where the child in the book did, too. The book is "Lazy Jack" and Amazon says it's about a kid who gets a gold coin for working in town one day, but loses it on his way home and is scolded by his mother for not having put it in his pocket! Next day, he goes into town and comes back with his wages (or with what he's supposed to fetch from town, i forget) in his pocket, like she said to, only instead of a gold coin, today he's bringing back milk. So that doesn't work out. He's always carrying today's item with the carrying mode that he should've used the day before. (I haven't re-read the book, but I remember a loaf of French bread on a leash...) Ugh! ("Wrong-Way Boy" was how I thought of the book till I was told of its title, so of course I thought of it when I saw this post.) Here are some things I have said, hopefully in the realm of what you're looking for:
A friend asked: Isn't the Super Bowl coming up soon? Me: Yeah, I think it's this Wednesday. (He then pointed out that I was missing one of the three big words, as it's Super Bowl SUNDAY.)
I did the same thing with Easter. (aka Easter SUNDAY.)
Another friend just told me that after he bakes muffins, he would like to bake puffins. Took me four days till it popped into my head, randomly, that he was just rhyming. (I told him that puffins would probably be pretty gamy.)
These examples can be shrugged off as my being a space cadet.
The comic you linked to: It seems a common thing that as children we accidentally link coincidences (wrong math + girl = girls suck at math) that can take years to become aware of. I think that some examples like that would fit here (I'm thinking...).
posted by Sarah Jane at 9:22 PM on October 26, 2010

A friend of mine once related a story about her sister, saying that at school she had put white paper in the recycling bin for "colored" paper, because the white paper was the kind that was ruled with pink and blue lines.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:49 PM on October 26, 2010

My grandson (12) and I were wandering through Crown Hill Cemetery looking for John Dillinger's grave, using a vague map we had. He complained that they should bury people alphabetically to make it easier to find them.
posted by pjern at 11:01 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

When in the drive-through lane and relaying your food items via the driver, it's amusingly when you can successfully prompt the driver to add "to go" at the end of the order.
posted by blueberry at 12:13 AM on October 27, 2010

A UPS courier delivering a package to a health clinic handed the clipboard to a doctor to sign. At that moment a very shapely young woman walked past them in the corridor, completely nude. When the delivery man regained his composure he said to the doctor, "Wow, did you see that?!" The doctor replied "Yeah....I bet she'd look great in a sweater."
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:24 AM on October 27, 2010

My personal favourite- I live in India, and even here, the 2004 US elections were a HUGE deal. Around that time, a classmate (who was the kind of person who has an American accent despite having gone there for two weeks five years previous, IYKWIM) turned to me and asked, in all seriousness, "[Tamanna], is President Bush a Democrat?"

Thinking about it still makes me alternately chuckle and cringe.
posted by Tamanna at 12:46 AM on October 27, 2010

While in Rome with my American family on the last night before going home:

Sister: We're gonna go eat at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Me: Um, you're in Rome. Why not use this last opportunity to eat some of the best authentic Italian food you will ever have?

Sister: But, we've been eating Italian food all week!
posted by chillmost at 1:50 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was in the Apple store with my mother-in-law and she asked if they had a section for Blackberries.
posted by Ostara at 11:11 AM on October 27 [+] [!]

Oh my god, your mother-in-law was one of those people! I can't tell you how many times I talked to people who came in to the Apple Store where I worked looking for Zunes. Zunes and accessories for their Nokias.
posted by gc at 3:15 AM on October 27, 2010

At a friend's wedding in America, my Scottish husband and I were talking to a group of my high school friends. One of the girls, university educated and runs her own business, turned to my husband and exclaimed,

"You're from Scotland right? Do they teach English there because you speak it really well!"
posted by like_neon at 6:03 AM on October 27, 2010

After we saw The Fellowship of the Ring at the theater, a woman in front of us talking with her friend, said "well, they left that wide open for a sequel!"

Not sure if she was kidding of or not, but it comes up in conversation periodically as an example of your question.
posted by saffronwoman at 6:41 AM on October 27, 2010

My wife and I were watching Das Boot. We had a conversation about watching it dubbed, with subtitles, or both. You know, standard foreign film stuff.

After watching a while, my wife remarked about how the movie was setting up "the enemy" as sympathetic characters, how interesting that was. I was confused....I hadn't seen any sympathetic references to the British or Americans. She said it again, how interesting it was that the Germans were portrayed sympathetically. I was VERY confused. I paused the movie, looked at her, and said "You know this is a German movie, right?"



posted by MrMoonPie at 6:41 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

I used to work at a game development studio that had, among other products, a Jack Nicklaus-branded golf game for PC. One time we received a fan letter from a player, addressed to Mr. Nicklaus, which complimented him on the game and included the line, "I really liked you in Batman."
posted by BurntHombre at 7:41 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

The comments about Thailand reminded me of a couple more:

-My trip there was with a group that included American high school boys. The day we let them pick where we ate, it was (yep!) McDonald's.

-On the same trip, our group spent part of a day buying the obligatory gifts for people back home, from subsistence-income merchants. When we returned, a woman in our group, her arms loaded full of bags of dirt cheap merchandise, told our hosts, "The Thai economy is AWESOME!!!"
posted by Rykey at 7:48 AM on October 27, 2010

When my neighbour's mint-condition 35-year-old Ford Capri (with 12,000 miles on the clock) was totalled by a load falling off the back of a pick-up truck onto it, the truck driver said "Thank goodness it wasn't a new car".
posted by essexjan at 8:04 AM on October 27, 2010

i worked at a company that had a niche market in medical information services. right before I started employment there, they had dreamed up a new marketing campaign designed to get potential clients excited about their services. My first day on the job i was cheerfully handed a pad of their sticky notes bearing that new slogan "Customers ... for a change!"

I looked up at her and said, "Oh, you didn't have customers for a long time and then you started getting them?" She looked very puzzled, and couldn't figure out how awful the slogan sounded because she'd obviously had gulped down her Flavor-Aid ration and refused to acknowledge that it could easily be mistaken as a statement that they hadn't had a lot of business in a while and now were getting some new business in. "No! It's customers ... who want change!" she insisted.

I quit within two months.... but still have the pad of sticky notes!
posted by kuppajava at 8:43 AM on October 27, 2010

At the end of "The Postman Always Rings Twice", as Jack Nicholson sat weeping by the road, Jessica Lange dead in the car, the credits rolled and my sister said, in a bewildered (and loud) voice, "But where's the postman?"

The entire audience (except her) laughed.
posted by essexjan at 8:52 AM on October 27, 2010

A tourist once asked my dad where Edinburgh Castle was. While standing on Princes Street. Photo reference, Princes St is on the right.

Another tourist once asked my wife, who's from the Colorado Rockies, whether the white stuff on the mountaintops was sand, and who had put it there.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:05 AM on October 27, 2010

A friend used to work in Poundland where everything costs £1. He said that all day long people would ask "How much is this?" "It's a pound. Everything's a pound." "Oh. Is this a pound? How much is this?"

He left before he killed someone with a hammer that cost a pound.
posted by essexjan at 9:08 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

peep!! OMG OMG OMG!!

That drives me crazy! Both my wife and mother-in-law go on about this and no matter how many times I explain they think I'm crazy. I've had to let it go and grind my teeth when it comes up.
posted by redyaky at 9:40 AM on October 27, 2010

Also, regarding chain restaurants showing up on "best X of [city Y]" lists, I do recall Taco Bell showing up as one of the best Mexican food restaurants in Toronto a few years back.
posted by redyaky at 9:42 AM on October 27, 2010

One of my favorites from an old AskMe was the poster basically asking "I want to opt out of the Christmas rat race. How can I gracefully tell my friends that rather than getting them a gift, I will be making a donation to charity in their name?"

The point being, of course, is that if you do this, you tell people to do it in lieu of gifts TO you, not FROM you.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 11:00 AM on October 27, 2010

I wrote an essay in high school history comparing Flemish (Dutch) art to Italian art in the Renaissance. "Flemish" refers to people and culture of Flanders. I didn't realize this. My essay was titled "Michelangelo and the bland Flanderians" and I referred to the Flemish art and artists as "Flanderians".
posted by SugarFreeGum at 12:25 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Almost the entire movie of "Dumb and Dumber" has this as it's main theme.
posted by Spyder's Game at 12:30 PM on October 27, 2010

ThePinkSuperhero's favorite potato chips are Doritos.
posted by mullacc at 1:44 PM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

This scene from Dumb and Dumber is one of my favorite examples.
posted by funkiwan at 2:21 PM on October 27, 2010

All of Flight of the Conchords, especially scenes involving Murray.
posted by purenitrous at 2:49 PM on October 27, 2010

This AskMe.
posted by SassHat at 8:20 PM on October 27, 2010

I recently witnessed an exchange between a mother and daughter at the bookstore where I work concerning that most impressive contribution to the canon: Nicholas Sparks' Last Song.

They heatedly debated for at least ten minutes whether or not Miley Cyrus was in the book.
posted by magnoliacoffee at 9:08 PM on October 27, 2010

SassHat, LOL.
posted by mittenbex at 10:51 PM on October 27, 2010

My mum said to me as I picked up a pepper grinder: 'Be careful with that, that's strong!' I also got a copy of 'Computers for Dummies' when I was fifteen, an age at which I had been using a computer of some sort for half my life and had to explain to my dad what 'CD-Rom' was. 'CD One?'
posted by mippy at 8:45 AM on October 28, 2010

Oh - I was old enough to have heard of AIDS, know how people got it, and that it was deadly. I did not know what having AIDS actually 'meant'. So when I heard that there was such a thing as feline AIDS, I had a very confused conversation with my mother.
posted by mippy at 8:48 AM on October 28, 2010

Hmmm.. one of the guides for Cairo, either Lonely Planet or The Rough Guide, listed a certain company in Cairo as offering "very authentic" camel rides. I always got a kick out of that.

I notice how many people bring up McDonald's in this thread. The truth is, in many developing countries, McDonald's (and similar chains like Pizza Hut or KFC) are considered top-end restaurants and are often where you take a date if you intend to impress her. Many times in Cairo I would ask a local for a nearby restaurant recommendation, and they would enthusiastically recommend Pizza Hut. Whether this was because they assumed I as an American would appreciate this food more, or if they thought it was genuinely better food, or if they were just messing with the stupid American, it did happen a lot.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:51 PM on October 28, 2010

As a school technology specialist, I had to certify teachers' basic technology skills when they renewed their teaching certification. They did this by creating a hard-copy portfolio.

One teacher gave me a portfolio and indicated that she had included evidence of "sending an email with an attachment". She printed out the sent email, which discussed some flyer, but the header lacked an indication of an attachment-- no paperclip icon or file name or anything like that.

Then I realized she had stapled a copy of the flyer to the email printout.
posted by scarnato at 6:09 PM on October 30, 2010

Two anecdotes, one from the mid-90s, one from within the past ten years.

1) Friend's mother (Pakistanis, friend was studying comp sci before the internet explosion) in all seriousness: "Son, make sure you put the cover on your computer. You don't want it to catch a virus."

2) A student who went on to become a star international debater: Yasser Arafat is the prime minister of Israel, right?
posted by bardophile at 11:08 PM on November 6, 2010

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