Over the years, a slightly obsessive curiosity has led me to gather up a store of somewhat esoteric but useless information in a number of obscure areas of human endeavour. For this reason, if I were to find myself on a quiz show, I would be happy to take on my fellow contestants in specific subject areas such as the poetry of W.B. Yeats, edible and hallucinogenic plants, Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, the 1970’s Montreal Expos, and Sherlock Holmes. On the other hand, the list of subjects apt to very quickly send me to the consolation prize table reserved for “departing contestants” would be much lengthier and more comprehensive. Basic accounting, television sitcoms, auto mechanics, current events, stain removal, electrical circuits, knot-tying, fashion sense, the table of elements, heating, venting and air conditioning systems, maps of the world, popular music from the 1980s, woodworking, Hollywood personalities, and lacrosse are just a few of the subjects I know pretty much diddly squat about. In short, then, if knowledge were real estate, there are gaps in mine that you could build some major condominium developments in.
Fortunately, despite these cognitive shortcomings, I’ve managed to keep myself more or less functional and employable by using a variety of clever tactics. One of these is to know when to fake it. Let’s face it, there are times in situations, such as first dates and job interviews, when the most important skill you have is the ability to smile and nod with a “knowing” look on your face, even when you are completely bewildered. More often, though, I’ve been completely upfront about my shocking ignorance. Utterances such as “So…you’re saying that I shouldn’t stand in a basin of water while I’m attempting to replace that dimmer switch?” or “What? Madonna and Sean Penn are divorced?” are types of questions commonly heard around my house.
Another effective strategy (a rare stroke of genius on my part, if I may be so immodest) has been to make up for my general lack of competence by choosing a partner who is adept in all the areas wherein I’m particularly vague and scatterbrained. Besides having the drop on me in the looks department, my wife has proven herself to be pretty capable of handling most of the challenges that come her way. Although she’s rarely been called upon her to do so, she is mechanically inclined enough to take apart a carburetor in the dark and put it back together again. She has also somehow been able to master the occult complexities of paying our bills on time, feeding the cat and watering the plants once in awhile, as well as jotting down important events on the calendar so as not to forget them (brilliant, that).
In sum, my point is (I’m sure, Dear Reader, that you had faith in the fact I have one), if you are, like me, not the most well-rounded of individuals, not necessarily shall we say, one of those renaissance men or women that I personally take great solace in despising, then it may be a wise move to cozy up to someone who is. Trust me, when your car breaks down during a total eclipse of the sun on your way to a celebrities’ lacrosse game, you’re going to need her or him!