Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Are you an ottist?

Back in college, Pythagoras and I held a number of jobs that had little to do with our future professions.

Mine included working in a bakery and washing dogs for a pet groomer (a combination that resulted in a disturbing number of poodles licking donut frosting off my shoes).

Pythagoras worked in a pizza parlor.

One evening, he answered a call from a man with a heavy accent and a very firm idea how he wanted his pizza made. After he barked his elaborate instructions to Pythagoras, he issued this stern warning:

"I am a pizza ottist, so I will know if you do not make it right."

Pythagoras frowned down at his order pad. "Pizza ottist?"

"Pizza ottist!" the man repeated loudly.

Oh artist, Pythagoras realized, but wrote down o-t-t-i-s-t and committed both the word and the concept to memory.

Since then, it's become our catch-all phrase for a skill that is a great source of pride, but might not ordinarily be considered a form of artistry. I am a bargain-hunting ottist, as I can always find the best prices on everything from world travel to used jeans.
Pythagoras slices the potatoes paper-thin.

And Pythagoras is still a pizza ottist. It's the one thing he loves to do in the kitchen (well, I suppose there are other things he might love to do in the kitchen, but the granite counters are kind of cold).

Just last night, some friends and I pleaded with him to make pizzas. I knew he had a million other things on his to-do list (I know this because I attempted to add my own name) but I also saw that flicker of pride that comes from being asked to do something you're really very good at.

He agreed, and we headed off to the grocery store to stock up on pepperoni and onions and big, fat mushrooms. Pythagoras delighted us with his mouth-watering Italian prosciutto, potato, and rosemary pizza, along with some artery-clogging meat monster we affectionately called "boy pizza."

It was delicious. Even better, it was fun to see my husband basking in the glow of doing something he's very good at and enjoys, but isn't required to do in order to keep a roof over our heads.
Assembling the pizzas.

I'm no psychology expert, but I'm pretty sure everyone needs outlets like this – some skill, some ottistry that isn't tied to your profession, but just makes you happy because you're genuinely good at it. Do you agree? If so, what sort of ottist are you? Is there some ottistry you aspire to develop? Please share!

And please let me know if you happen to be a cleaning ottist. My kitchen looks like someone blew up a bag of flour with an M-80.

Totally worth it though.


Danica Avet said...

Okay, I love the word "ottistry"...just sort of rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

I'm not a big fan of cooking. I'll do it if I have to, but once in a while, I allow my family to cajole me into cooking. There are only a few dishes I do really well, but the one they all want is my lasagna. I doubt it's all that special, but the way they act, you'd think it was. Because of that, I don't cook it often, but when I do, I spend hours on it. The sauce has to be just right and layering has to be perfect.

Hm, I suppose this means I'm a lasagna ottist? I'm so making a nametag!

CKHB said...

I am an origami-crane-folding ottist. I love having an excuse to make them.

Patty Blount said...

I am a cake-decorating ottist-in-training. I'm good but not great, ya know?

When my son got his learner's permit, I baked a replica of the New York State driver's license, complete with photo in the corner.

Unknown said...

Yeah, I'd like to put in my order for that potato-rosemary pizza...and can P deliver it to my door, personally?

Juliana Joie, Lover of the World said...

I LOVE all the jobs I had before I became a wildly successful life coach, author, and speaker (that, my dear friends, is what we call affirmation!)

I've done just about everything you can do for minimum wage, but I like to think I'm always an ottist.

I didn't just drive bagels to their appropriate stores; I was a bagel chauffeur. I wasn't just a Wendy's employee; I was so enthusiastic when I repeated their jingle on the drive-thru that they asked me to stop.

If it's not pretty or fun or inspiring, I don't want to do it. I adorn my agendas with colors and my logo and don't let's get started on my website.

Ultimately, though, I am a People Fascination Ottist. A Fairy Godmother Ottist. An Oh-Wow-You-Want-to-Do-What-Go-You! Ottist. My favorite thing is marveling at others' ottistry and cheering them to do more.

Thanks for the beautiful, fun post Tawna! Your writing ottistry rocks my world.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I love to bake. Cook, not so much, I leave that to hubby. So I'm a baker ottist.

Tom M Franklin said...

Food Ottistry is a wonderful thing. You start with the anticipation, the acquiring of the necessary items, march on through the wilds of the actual food prep and cooking/baking and then end in the glorious depths of eating that which is wonderful.

I learned early on that Bonn loves pies. (Well, actually, she likes pie crust. Turnovers, I have discovered, are basically lots of pie crust with just the right balance of filling for my wife) Now, as soon as the weather starts to turn cool, the requests for apple pies and pumpkin pies start coming in.

'tis a great gift!

(oh, and do you remember when Subway used to call the workers behind the counter "Sandwich Artists"?)

-- Tom

Anonymous said...

I am so NOT someone you want anywhere near a kitchen on a regular basis. I mean, I exploded eggs while trying to hard boil them.

Yeah, didn't know you needed to heat the egg up WITH the water. . . **blushes**

But my sweet hubby likes to cook, so that's cool. I'm the helper and kitchen-cleaner-upper...so I think I'm a cleaning ottist...... :-)

Fun post!

Unknown said...

My cat thinks I'm an ear scratching ottist.

Dr. Goose said...

I'm an ottist in the bedroom if you know what I mean. Like sleeping, watching TV, and folding laundry.

Elizabeth Ryann said...

1) Ottistry totally IS fun to say.
2) Is Pythagoras at all disturbed by all these headless pictures you've been acquiring of him lately? Though he does have an admirable torso.
3) My random college job was makeup artist (makeup ottist!). I worked for the School of Theatre, and then later for a photography studio. It was good times. Meant I rarely wanted to do my own makeup though, and I marveled at the level of trust people just have for someone they've decided to let touch their face with closed eyes upon first meeting. Because they were willing to do that, they tended to trust you like family. It's kind-of mind boggling how much jewelry I've been handed to hang onto, which is to say nothing of purses. It'd be a good racket for a thief, I've always thought. Not that I would ever do anything, but it used to weird me out how easily people would hand over thousands of dollars worth of jewelry because I have some basic competency with eyeshadow. Or they'd leave their child in my care. Or even the fact that they'd never even question whether or not I kept my brushes sanitary. Questions, people! Sometimes, you should have them. Ah, this answer ended up going in an unexpected direction, but I'm going to leave it as my general PSA for the day, I think...

Expat mum said...

Being from England, I say artist "ottist"!
I am about to show off my non-paying attistry by embarking on yet another hand-made Halloween costume. First I have to make my 7 year old PICK ONE fer cryin' out loud!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Nicole up there...I love to bake, but cooking makes me snooze. So holidays are just the coolest!

And I guess I'd be an actual drawing ottist, since I can draw really well. Don't get much call to do it anymore, but I used to have charcoal prints everywhere. Now it pretty much just comes down to whenever my daughter has a school project, I'm the "ottist" behind that part of it.

Wanting that pizza though!

Sharon Axline said...

does drinking wine count as an ottis? I'm pretty good at that - and I do tend to cook some...ok alot. I love cooking! THERE I SAID IT! I said it and I'm glad I said it!

Penelope said...

Love the word! I am a baking and gardening ottist. :)

Cheryl Ossola said...

"Ottist" is my new favorite word. My ottistry would be reading, I think. Oh, and talking, especially opinion-spouting. And then there's obsessing. And I like to think writing falls somewhere in there, but we'll see when my book makes the agent rounds.

Now that I think of it, those are all pretty good skills for an editor (which I am) to have.

Lisa B said...

I HATE to grocery shop. So, I have become so adept at it that I can do the weekly shopping in my sleep. My husband went with me a few weekends ago and after we came home he said, "Don't take this the wrong way but you are REALLY good at that."

Anonymous said...

Diaper-changing ottis, thank you very much. I can clean any butt explosion with one wipe, and slap a diaper on that ass in three seconds flat. With four kids I should be able to. People marvel, I tell ya.


I'd say I'm a Google Ottist. I can find anything on Google. I had a friend who use to send me google challenges, just to see if I could figure something out, answer a question, etc. etc. I'd love to say that was when I had too much time on my hand, but it wasn't. I just love to Google.

Harley May said...

LOVED this post, Tawna. Ottist is my new favorite word. I'd have to say I'm a Cowgirl Ottist. It's my favorite posi-HEY LOOK THERE'S A BUTTERFLY OUTSIDE MY WINDOW.

No. I'm a musician and dabble in the painting. I want to say I do these things more for myself.

I iron well. I paint the crap out of walls.

Linda G. said...

Mmmm. Pizza by Pythagoras. Yummy!

Let's see, what kind of ottist am I? I know! I am a Rationalization Ottist. I pride myself on coming up with really good reasons to do whatever I want to do. ;)

Patrick Alan said...

I like your family sayings - pizza ottist. Let's go pick up Juan.

Patrick Alan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick Alan said...

The deleted post was from me and absolutely too funny to share, so I deleted it. It wasn't a duplicate post. No it wasn't. It was funny. And I am laughing too hard right now to tell you about it.

Brandi Guthrie said...

I can cook. I can draw and paint. I can even sing. (The last two have even won me awards.) I'm a well-rounded ottist, at least.

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

I'm a singer/songwriter/musician and novel writing ottist. I suck at everything else.

Anonymous said...


Good thing it's time to go home from work to the rack of lamb and garlic-rosemary roasted potatoes and squash compote my wife's been preparing all afternoon. Or easy-mac. Don't know which yet.

Elisabeth Black said...

Of course I agree. I don't do anything I don't have to do these days (except writing, but I kind of do have to do that), but I can't wait till I can again. And... what I do, I try to do well. Maybe that's a kind of ottistry in itself.

Beth Mann said...

Telling us he cleans toilets is just bragging. Telling us he cooks, too? That's just plain mean. ;)

And I do happen to be a cleaning "ottist". I love cleaning other people's houses *she whispers*, just not my own.

Love this post!

Trisha Leigh said...

I am a tubing ottist. As in, being pulled behind a boat by a marginally psychotic driver who may or may not be your father, but in any case wants to knock you off the tube with enough force to give you a headache that signals a minor concussion, but staying on longer than anyone else dares to.

Yup. I'm good at that.

Claire Dawn said...

I'm a foreign language ottist. And a full split ottist.

And I absolutely love that word.


Wow, this is so fun getting to know you guys better and hearing what your "ottistry" is!

Danica, I want that @#$% lasagna. Now.

CKHB, my grandmother used to fold dollar bills into shirts and pants and leave them as tips in restaurants. I always envied that skill.

Patty, wow, that's impressive! Someday maybe you can make one of my book cover! :)

Karla, our Italian brother-in-law taught us the recipe. We love him very much for that.

Juliana Joie, love your attitude! You sound like a true ottist.

Nicole, I'm a really good cook, but baking has always eluded me. What's your specialty? More importantly, will you make me some?

Tom, that's right! I forgot about the Subway "sandwich artists." Too funny!

lynnrush, I could definitely use a cleaning ottist around here. Come on over!

Brandi, that is an excellent skill to have. I'm still working on it for my three cats.

Dr. Goose, how proud your wife must be!

Elizabeth Ryann, actually, I married a man with no head. It's a rather unfortunate birth defect.

Expat Mum, we once had a hysterical conversation with a British couple in which the words "autistic" and "artistic" were confused as a result of the accents. Good times.

Sharla, I always wished I could draw! So you're an artist ottist?

Sharon, drinking wine is a very important form of ottistry!

Penelope, will you come doctor my garden? It's not faring so well this summer.

Cheryl, onion sprouting? What on earth is that?

Lisa B, no joke, that is a very important skill to have!

Posey, I once had a PR job where some uh...rather unfortunate video footage of our CEO had supposedly been leaked online. Our department was tasked with trying to find it. Most fun I ever had at that job.

Harley May, what instruments do you play? There's a sex joke in there somewhere.

Linda G, I enjoy making good use of your skill!

Patrick, your hilarity makes me pee myself on a daily basis.

Brandi G, a singing ottist! I'm envious. I sing very well (read: horribly) in the shower or car, as long as no one can hear me.

Debra, and a very talented one you are!

Simon, mmm...lamb. I know I shouldn't like to eat them, but I really, really do.

Elizabeth, that is indeed an enviable ottistry!

Beth, yeah, I might have to keep him around (with a leash firmly attached to his collar).

Trisha, that sounds like a very self-destructive ottistry, but hey -- whatever rolls your socks up!

Claire Dawn, so what's the word for "ottist" in all the other languages?! :)

Thanks for reading, guys!

Melissa Gill said...

I guess I'd have to say I'm a knitting ottist. I knit all the time, it's so relaxing and yet rewarding a the same time. Ottist is a great word BTW, I'm sure it'll be added to websters any time now.

Unknown said...

I happen to be an "Ottist" in two areas (asides from my writing:D).
In Karate of which I have a second degree black belt, and in crochet! It often helps me calm down and contemplate my books while the yarn does flying!

I suppose I could also add Movie Soundtrack Ottist to that list as well. I believe i have over 50 on my computer and when a new movie comes to theatres I can usually name the composer of the score! Annoys the Hell out of those attempting to watch the movie around me :)