Saturday, January 21, 2006

Oh, It's Because The Trees Block The VIEW Of The Forest

Since Sister was kind enough to point out that the Un Clebens misunderstanding was not exactly - ahem - unusual for me, I guess I'll just go ahead and point out the myriad other ways I unintentionally perpetuate stereotypes of people with my hair color. Well, my hair color back in the day, really. There aren't exactly loads of stereotypes for people with dark blonde hair, although after this post I may inspire a few.

Before I completely humiliate myself, I do feel that I need to remind y'all that I was an English major. Remember? The major where you spend four years looking for all sorts of symbolism and subtext and hidden meaning? And I can do that all day long if I have a poem or novel in front of me. You give me a quote from To Kill A Mockingbird about Scout being on "the treadmill of the Maycomb County School System," and I'll analyze the state of education in Depression-era South and tie it all into the treadmill metaphor. You give me a novel set in Georgia with a main character who lives in an antebellum home, and I can write Lengthy Essays on how the rotting 2 x 4's that are standing in place of porch columns signify the imminent collapse of 1880's Southern culture in general and the main character's family in particular.

I'm not stupid. That's all I'm sayin'.

There have just been a few instances in my life where the obvious has gotten a little sidetracked on its way to my brain.

Case in point: Target. It was only about a year and a half ago when I looked at the Target logo in a Sunday circular and thought, "Oh, I see! It's a target!"

When I off-handedly mentioned my newfound understanding to David - because it was such a revelation to me that I felt like I'd happened upon some information that the rest of the world had simply missed - he promptly stared, shook his head, and hid behind the newspaper. I don't know if he was secretly laughing but didn't want to hurt my feelings or if he simply couldn't bare to look at One So Scatterbrained As I.

But wait! There's more!

When David and I had been married about six months, we were traveling - from Shreveport to Baton Rouge, I think - and in a fit of boredom I pulled out the atlas as David drove. I flipped around, refreshing my memory of state capitals and whatnot, and at some point I came across an illustration of Mississippi and its western border states, Arkansas and Louisiana. I studied it for a minute, and I promise you that a lightbulb went on in my head.

"WOW! The entire western border of Mississippi is the River! It runs all the way down the side!" said the TWENTY EIGHT YEAR-OLD WITH A MASTER'S DEGREE.

D. was floored. All he could manage to say was, "You're kidding, right?" (and by "right," what he really meant was "please please I beg you to be kidding so I can go to sleep tonight with some assurance that I haven't married the dumbest woman alive").

But you see, I wasn't kidding. It had just never occurred to me. Even tonight, as I looked at the map, I stared, for just a second, filled with wonder that the river is the border.

So, just for grins and giggles, here are some more examples of knowledge that required a disturbingly lengthy processing time for me:

The Empire State Building? As it turns out, it's called that because New York is known as the Empire State! I had THAT revelation at age thirty four.

You know The Summit? Here in Birmingham? You may not have realized it, but it's called that because it's at the TOP of a really big hill in addition to the fact that it's the "peak" of shopping! It's true!

Our local CBS affiliate had this deal where they spent the first 5 minutes of each broadcast giving a one-minute update on local news, sports, weather, etc. Their slogan was "It's about time!" I spent four years thinking that it meant "It's about time that someone figured out this clever format." Only this past summer did I get the pun: it's about time, you see, because they give you so much news so quickly!

Get it?

Obviously, I don't.


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