The Story About My Lack of Attention To Detail

Alana Schwartz
4 min readDec 29, 2020


I’m back!

Guys, do you know the typical movie trope where the woman gets a haircut and her dumb spouse comes home and is like “Hi honey” and she says, “Do you notice anything different about me” and he says, “Uh is it your dress” and she says, “No guess again” and he goes on guessing her boots, her earrings, her nail polish, and finally when we think he will finally guess her smile because she rarely does that anymore because God knows nothing makes her happy nowadays, she screams “I got a haircut!” and the spouse goes “you look great honey” and then they have dinner.

So I’m the clueless spouse there. You could grow a full beard and I won’t notice. I have had several (male) friends be all “What do you think” after showing up completely clean-shaven after rocking a Gandalf-sized beard, I’m not exaggerating, like birds were living in that beard, and you know I’m not kidding because I lived in Denver and there are some hipsters there (although back then we called them hippies) and what was I talking about? You gotta make pretty drastic changes to your appearance, really, until I’ll finally realize you changed. Although sometimes I just won’t recognize you altogether. Like that time when the girl in my seminary got married and I was walking with a friend from college and we ran into her, this recently married woman, who had her hair covered in this cool hair wrap, and I was like “This is my friend [insert wrong name here]” and then the recently married woman had to go “No Alana we are in seminary together and my name is Shira” and the friend whom I was with was like, classic Alana.

I’m not too bummed about finally realizing that I do not really pay attention to stuff. I mean, as a kid, I was entranced by this child Encyclopedia Brown, who was a kid detective and charged a nickel (A. NICKEL.) to solve cases that the kids in his class would need help with, and Encyclopedia Brown would always trip up the bully or the kid who stole the gum or whatever because he noticed that hey, it rained that day and there was no mud on your shoes or you said it was between pages 15 and 16 but all books start with an even page and page 15–16 is one page! Man, that one blows my mind every time. Sorry, spoiler alert. I mean, who didn’t want to be Encyclopedia Brown? Alas, I did not grow up to be him.

My sisters would tell you this story where we watched this awesome movie called “the one where the girls in college learn to self-actualize and also sing together” — yes that is its real title — and after we watched it we walked out and one sister goes, “I loved the scene with the pool” and I was like “what pool” and it turns out a very iconic singing riff off happens in an (empty) pool and I hadn’t noticed they were in a pool, and that may be because I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but also, because, well, the paying attention thing.

This really hit home, the lack of attention to detail, and the clueless spouse thing, when I was in college and I had roommates. I’m super neat and clean, I thought to myself, as I left debris across the tiny room that housed three freshman. If I could find the picture, my roommates tried to auction off my stuff because I just left it in the middle of the floor and also was never in the room. Anyway, after my 3rd year in college I was finally getting the “keep the room clean” thing down, and putting stuff on shelves and folding it and whatever. Luckily I didn’t own that much stuff cuz I learned how to pack light and also whatever I wanted with me would have to travel from Denver to New York in a suitcase and sometimes you just assume you will buy winter boots in New York because yours don’t fit in the suitcase. Anyway, Senior Year I had this neat roommate who even made our beds because I was somehow blessed to have kind and caring roommates. Nowadays I have to make my bed (read: throw a blanket over the bedsheet) because otherwise my insane rabbit Luna will jump on the bedsheet and try to dig through it like she is still living underground and has to dig herself a nice safe hole in my bedsheets. For some reason, she will not do this with my blanket.

Rabbits, man.

So I get back to my dorm one day senior year and my roommate Heather is looking at me all excitedly and she does the thing where I 100% do not notice anything at all has changed and she finally bursts out, “Did you see what I did?” in this gleeful way, that obviously I will notice because hasn’t this thing also been bugging me this whole time? It hasn’t. I stared at her blankly.

“I cleaned your mirror,” she said, and I stand up to look at the mirror I have had sitting on our desk, gathering dust, and now is squeaky clean and I can actually see myself in it.

“Oh, thanks,” I said, embarrassed that I had probably spent the past 3 and a half years looking into a dusty, faded mirror like some Charles Dickens character.

So, I am no Encyclopedia Brown, but you know, I have other cool talents. And yeah, your beard looks great.