Friday, November 19, 2010

The Freak Speaks

I don't dumb myself down for anyone. Ever. I also don't consider myself to be one of the uber intellects of the world. It's just that there's some stuff I know. There's also a whole heap of stuff that I don't know. I think where I do differ from so many is that when I don't know something, and I'm intrigued by it even in the slightest, I have to learn about it. I have to. So, maybe I'm more a freak than an intellect. It feels that way.

I'm the crazy person that can't just sit back, watch TV, and listen to Greg House wax sarcastically about a patient or his staff without wondering what the hell an atrioventricular node is and why his idiot acolytes would know that that's where the problem was if they had learned anything at all in med school about the posteroinferior region of the interatrial septum! Don't they teach you chil'ren anything?! I can't just sit there eating cheese doodles and smiling at his banter, knowing that it's meant to be funny, but resting solely on the funniness of his inflection. I just can't. I have to look it up and learn about it.

So, I find it fascinating when people give me shit for "being smart," or for knowing and using "big words." I've been accused of being a snob and trying to exclude people from conversation, purely by virtue of the fact that I have a vocabulary and I use it. If anything, I'm trying to lead people to learn. Learning is the greatest asset we have in this life. Learning is the only thing that will help us evolve, as individuals and as a group.

It's about more than just reading books and memorizing things. I've known some book smart people and they aren't always very intelligent. One of the most intelligent men I know (whom I have the great fortune of loving and living with) knows how to put things together and make them run. He knows this because he's spent a great deal of his life taking things apart to see how they worked. He also has a keen ability to read and understand manuals and tech-speak. Now there's something that I seem unable to do - just looking at the cover of a manual makes me want to nap.

True learning is about being curious, about wanting to know things. I'm curious. I want to know things. For me, one of the scariest places to reside is that pale, apathetic Land of Ignorance. I cringe when someone asks me what something means, I tell them to look it up (I mean, how difficult is it to google?!), and they say, "Oh, nevermind." To me, that's mental suicide, because learning is life. It's been said that when we stop learning, we start dying.

Why do I tell people to look up things rather than just giving the answer? It comes from a lesson I learned from my baby brother back when I was in my early teens. I don't remember what we were looking at or talking about, but he made the comment that whatever it was had "smegma all over it." I asked him what smegma was and he said, "It's the scummy crust that forms on the top of goat's milk." I took him at his word. For years, at least five years and maybe more, I happily used the word smegma whenever I encountered anything crusty, gooey or just plain oogy. It's not so much that I was misusing the word, but I was definitely misinterpreting it. One day, for no other reason than I was curiously thumbing through the dictionary for (*gasp*) fun, I came across the word smegma. If you're not familiar with it, please go look it up, because it is not the scummy crust that forms on the top of goat's milk. Anyway, from then on, if I didn't know a word, I looked it up rather than ask someone.

So, maybe I'm intelligent, or maybe I'm just a freak. Maybe I'm an intelligent freak. I don't know. I don't care. All I know is that I refuse to sit in the dark wondering what that funny switch on the wall is for.


  1. Well said Barb. I remember a one-time friend of my mother's making fun of me because I used the word 'procrastination' in a conversation we were having. I was hurt at the time, but now I think her sarcasm & laughter said more about her than they did about me. I like words & I refuse to apologise for using them.

  2. "...For me, one of the scariest places to reside is that pale, apathetic Land of Ignorance..."

    Great post!!!

    For me, you could have just ended at "land of apathy"

    This should be posted on the uterus wall for reading of all future generations. (those nine months of just hanging around could be put to good use! ;-) )

  3. "Smegma"...P. had to tell me what that was. Glad i know so i can avoid it. i love words, but i do not care for that one.

    i know that i need to read more. It's hard to find that focus these days. Sometimes i feel like i'm losing some of my vocabulary. Sad.


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