I think of myself as a fairly intelligent person. I mean, my IQ is decent, I was in the honor society in high school, I do crossword puzzles…I’m no dummy. Right? Right???
Mama used to tell me, “Honey, you’re smart…you just don’t have any common sense.” She didn’t mean to be negative, and I guess maybe she was right…I just took an online quiz on the Discovery Channel site about common sense, and I only got 11 of 20 right…oy.
I’ve always had issues with learning and understanding certain abstract concepts…like telling time. I was at least 10 years old before I could confidently look at a clock and tell you anything beyond, “The big hand is on the two…”. Hell, I still take about three full seconds longer than anyone else to report what time it is if I’m looking at an analog clock face! (I know that there are kids today who can only use a digital clock, but I was learning to tell time a long time ago, so I don’t have the same excuses they do.)
I’m also (locally) famous for having a terrible grasp of basic directions–the ‘East vs. West’ kind, not the ‘Lather-Repeat’ kind. If anyone else is in the car and I’m driving, I depend on them to navigate, even if I already know the way. If I’m alone, I will eventually get there, but let’s just say that my life has gotten decidedly easier (and my travel times decidedly shorter) since I broke down and got GPS.
In my ‘pre-GPS’ days I once left Portland Oregon to drive to Cannon Beach Oregon, but accidentally ended up in Newport instead–109 miles to the south (that was a long day), I was taking my sister Lynnie to the Oregon coast…fun! The big mistake I made (other than turning LEFT one time too many) was deciding that the gambling stop was a good idea in the first place. Oh, and printing out a map and directions from MapQuest…but then leaving at least one of those pages at home on my desk didn’t help either.
I didn’t even consider the idea that we could have (easily) gone straight from Portland to the beach in an hour and a half…and that they have a casino there! No, I had to take us on a 5+ hour grand tour of the Pacific coast…and that’s driving time only, not gambling and stopping to pee and bitch. It was pretty late at night when we finally got to our hotel, and my sister (the unwilling victim of my accidental scenic route) was not exactly thrilled with my chauffeuring skills. (And yes, I did have a road map in the car…but I forgot about it. Oy, indeed.)
In general, I think that I much prefer the idea of uncommon sense. Instead of having the regular knowledge that everyone is supposed to have (you know, the ‘Don’t fly to Morocco without a male escort’ kind), I have the ‘Hey look, I know how to make strange-looking vacation maps with arrows’ and the ‘Oh, did you know that girls in prison use black mold as eye liner?’ kind. It’s a body of esoteric knowledge that certainly comes in handy on occasion (and makes for rousing games of Trivial Pursuit), but sometimes everyday living is a little tricky.
So, even though I may not know what Mickey’s ‘big hand on the 7′ means without taking an extra second or two to think about it, I do know how to catch a cat with a pillow case, and I can make a truly great martini. I’m terrible at memorizing things and have a not-so-great memory for names, but I have an uncanny ability to find out information about the most bizarre things. (So, if someone yells out, “We need someone to calculate the percentage of grown men who prefer blue m&m’s…in Peoria…STAT!!”…well, I’m ON IT.)
I think I’ll close by siding with George Bernard Shaw, who said, “…a man of great common sense and good taste – meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage.” It’s like he knew me…RIGHT?