Every time I finish writing a post, the other side of the coin starts to shine so brightly that I feel the need to either scrap what I wrote, or else write a second post completely contradicting it.
Recently, I wrote a post called “Projection” in which I painted myself as a smart person pretending to be dumb. But I lied. The truth is I am a dumb person pretending to be smart.
At the time though, I was just sick of people who think they are intelligent because they eat quail eggs and pretend to read Shakespeare. Look, I know who Phillip of Macedon is and once asked a man for directions to the beach in French! So find someone else to condescend on.
Nevertheless, when it comes to what matters most- practical things- I actually am an idiot. I have no idea how the world operates.
How does money work? Taxes? Automobiles? How do people hook up in bars? Or walk into a dark alley and come back with a bag of drugs? Why is Ryan Gosling considered sexy? What clothes make you seem intelligent? What expression should you make when a friend tells you she is gay?
Why do people visit gynecologists? What papers should be filled out on a regular basis to not get arrested? Can you pour unused paint down the drain? What do you do with the body when someone dies? How can you safely flatter someone without accidentally offending them at the same time? (Hint-don’t complement them on their second chin.)
How do you change oil? Buy a house? Choose the right moment to pepper spray a stranger? Should you scream if a man leaps out of the bushes to grab you? What lines does a person have to cross to officially be a pervert? How do you activate a phone so it will call people? Or keep yourself from going unconscious under fluorescent lights?
What are you supposed to feel when you go to a U2 concert that makes it worth 200 dollars? Why should you travel to see the Eiffel Tower rather than admiring a telephone pole? How do you buy a plane ticket? Will the stewardess ask you for identifying information? How do you get that identifying information and what sorts of identifying information will you need to acquire it?
Even people on welfare amaze me with their worldliness… how does a person get welfare? What offices do they go to and what do they say to the officers? I imagine there would be so many forms to fill out and hoops to jump through that it would be just as easy to get a job at NASA.
I don’t know why I have trouble with these sorts of things, but no matter how much effort I put into increasingly my worldly intelligence, it doesn’t seem to help. For example, I can’t seem to memorize my address and zip code no matter what I do. I even made up a perverted song to help me remember it, but somehow the song gets scrambled in my head.
And being dumb (in a practical sense) worries me a lot, since I frequently feel my survival hanging by a few thin threads. And so I devote a lot of energy to “practivizing” myself but it never seems to help. For every little skill I gain, two slip out the other side.
Being practical is probably a state of mind, more than a set of skills & facts. So how can I get into this mindset? By carrying country stones in my pocket? (Stones are practical, aren’t they?) Eating dry wheat toast? (The texture seems practical somehow.) Wearing more brown colored clothes?
I think that last idea is the most practical of all. Brown is such a practical color. I used to have the idea that a person could become more practical by dressing up like a potato while singing songs about them, but now it seems to me that simply wearing a brown shirt would be a much more practical approach. Or perhaps a simple brown ribbon, tied around the wrist.