Drawing compasses in the air

Ever noticed how only the very strangest of the learning mnemonics you used as a child are the ones that stay with you to adulthood?

Yesterday afternoon I actually started laughing out loud at myself as I tried to orient myself to the four directions of the compass. In doing so, I mentally drew a compass in the air—east on the right, west on the left—and finally placed myself facing north.When learning directions, I was never entirely certain if, when looking north, east was on my right or on my left. For some reason, I just had trouble making it stick. But, it turned out, I wasn't the only one, and a fellow student piped up with his "easy way to remember the directions on a compass."

He said, "You can remember to go clockwise, right? Start with north, and move around the compass like a clock, and say the phrase 'Never eat soggy worms!' and there you are—all four directions!"

Damn him.

That was sixth grade, and every time I draw a little compass in the air and try to count off north-east-south-west…there's that unwanted image of a sixth-grade girl distastefully holding a wet, squirming worm and saying to herself, "Ew. Never eat soggy worms. Never eat soggy worms."

I can't remember any of the amusing mnemonics I taught myself to remember nerves, muscles, or bones, nor the really really good one that once allowed me to recite the names of all the presidents in order of their election, but it appears that I'm going to remember these annoying soggy worms until I die.

But I haven't gotten east and west mixed up in a long, long time.