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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

An ounce of stupidity

"You can swim all day in the Sea of Knowledge and still come out completely dry. Most people do." ~Norman Juster

Ok, so don’t tell anyone I’m telling you this, because it’s a tad bit embarrassing; but sometimes I wonder how I made it through 17 years of schooling, four of which at a fairly decent private institution. The point is that though I can fully comprehend American Public Policy , I can speak Spanish fluently and I have also learned to swing a golf club immaculately, I am none too bright. Take for instance the painstaking operation that was translating One Hundred Years of Solitude from Spanish to English. Painful like someone tried to rip off my left nipple kind of painful. Like I seriously cried at 1 AM while simultaneously thinking of near fatal diseases that I prayed I would succumb to before my 12:54 PM class. For years I thought this hellish experience was reserved for my Spanish class and that no one had actually written such a terrible ass book (magical realism is rather hard to comprehend or give two fucks about when you’re 15), I was utterly convinced that Gabriel Garcia Marquez was some made up person. Imagine my surprise upon learning that this was an actual book and that people, including Queen Oprah herself, appreciated this book.

Fast forward to my obsession with Bridget Jone’s Diary over the past year and a half (another tribute to my Spanish fluency is that I can understand this move in both Spanish and English. Brilliant!). At one point in the movie there is a cameo by some author - Salman Rushdie. Ummm, sorry, who? Today while reading a Slate article, I happened across his name and was convinced that Salman Rushdie may in fact be important or some such shit. I decided to Wikipedia him and read all up on his back story and the controversy then banged my head on the desk a few times because holy hell Salman Rushdie isn’t just some Bridget Jone’s character, but he’s a real live boy and I am a real live idiot.

So to recap, I can tell you all about European history and can comprehend it in both Spanish and English, I can name a few hundred members of Congress, but I only recently have discovered that Rushdie and Marquez are actual people. Dear readers, you have just stumbled upon a bumbling idiot. Lucky you.



Blogger ocg said...

Did you say anything after "tried to rip off my left nipple kind of painful" because I have been sitting at my desk covering mine in sympathetic pains.


Heather, we ALL have those moments... unfortunately some of us (read: me) more than others. Thank you for reminding me, however, that I am not alone in this.

Your quote is great, btw.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous MappyB said...

Hmm...I'm 6 years older than you, and this whole post was way above my head! And I'm tall! :)

That's what I get for studying geography - a lack of comprehension for ANY other subject. Seriously.

I absolutely love your quote though. That's great.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

What I said after that was completely pointless. In fact I might just shorten the post to "tried to rip off my left nipple kind of painful". Though people might get a little pissy that those are my thoughts on the not quite real, Garcia Marquez.

I'm probably going to a special literary hell for using such a blasphemous statement.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

Mappy: Are you saying that there are other people out there who have no clue as to who Marquez and Rushdie are?!? Awesome!

1:09 PM  
Blogger Buffy said...

I've pretty much always known who Rushdie was. But only because when I was 12 and my gifted teacher gave me his Satanic Verses to read...the other teachers in the school tried to get her fired for ....wait for it..... DEVIL WORSHIPING. (I mean the book had the word Satan in it for goodness sake!!)

I'm not joking. If it weren't for that...I would have never read that book...and I would never have known ole Salman.

2:10 PM  
Blogger RoarSavage said...

You're adorable.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

Buffy: Ordering Satanic Verses as we speak.

Ms. Savage: Glad my stupidity makes me more adorable as my goal in life is to make you love me more and more. It seems to be working...

2:19 PM  
Blogger Isabel said...

I love this.

So I have this friend. And years ago I was at her house and I said, "guess what. They caught the Unibomber today!" And she was like, "who?"

What I'm saying is that my friend is much more of an idiot than you are!!

And you speak Spanish. So you rule.

2:29 PM  
Blogger mysterygirl! said...

Yeah, no worries. I know who those authors are, and such trivialities as who made out with Nick Lachey this weekend, but there are plenty of important things I don't know about that make me look like an idiot.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Lizzie said...

I know who Salman Rushdie is but only because I was mortally afraid of him as a child. I think it was 1987 or 88 when Ayatollah Khomeini issued the fatwa against him. I obviously was too young to understand what that meant, but I heard his name on the news all the time and just knew it sounded kind of evil and scary. Anyway, I became convinced he was hiding out in my closet. I was afraid of him the way most kids are afraid of the boogie man. Yeah, I was a weird kid.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

Isabel: Ok, that is very sad and the unibomber was from upstate NY (or found there or something) so props to Upstate once again.

MG!: Well I feel a tad bit better now, but will feel worse when it's revealed that Nick Lachey making out with Kristin Cavalleri was sooo last week. He's moved on now hasn't he..?

Lizzie: I don't remember 1987, so there's that for you. And my only memory of 1988 is kindergarten and meeting one of my best friends the day before kindergarten.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Marci (aka Baby Banana) said...

How can I shut off Heather's young brain?

She's making my alzheimer's kick in.

4:17 PM  
Blogger F.Cali said...

I loved this entry! I know exactly how you feel. I read Memoirs of a Geisha and started frantically Googling her to find out everything I could about this remarkable woman...and then I got to the last page and read the author's afterward and was totally crushed. So please, I am the idiot.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Nap Queen said...

Um, imagine how dumb I felt when I said (out loud mind you), "Oh, I get it. Leggo my Eggo means 'Let go of my Eggo'." Geez, I really am smart, I promise.

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are NOT an idiot! Trust me. We have ALL done things that might make us re-think our intellectual prowess. I know I have...quite a bit actually!

5:19 PM  
Blogger Isabel said...

The best comment?

Lizzie knowing how to spell "Ayatollah Khomeini". (Maybe it's spelled wrong, I don't know!) But I loved that she used it!!

5:58 PM  
Anonymous evette said...

One Hundred Years of Solitude is also painstaking reading when reading the translated version--and I LOVE to read! I am so glad there is someone else out there who didn't love, love, LOVE what they were reading.

But then again, maybe I just wasn't being deep and philosophical about it all.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

I love 100 Years of Solitude, but it is a rough read... and I can't imagine doing it in Spanish! (and there was as time when I was fluent in Spanish, but that time came to an and approximately 5 years ago when I got on a plane and left Madrid). In high school AP Spanish, we were supposed to be reading A Death Foretold (which is about 1/10th as long as 100 Yrs of Solitude) in Spanish, and it took me and my friend almost a month of painstaking translating to realize -- Duh!! you can just buy the book in English at Barnes and Noble for $10. Possibly the best 10 bucks I ever spent.

As for stupid things, my mom registered to vote in her town so she could vote for a friend in a local election. When the last presidential election came around, she asked me how she could find out what party she registered for, because she had no idea. I told she probably registered Democrat because all her friends are tree-hugging hippie types, but we'll never know. She's too embarassed to ask her friend, who won the local election, and admit that she doesn't know what party she voted for.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

I meant she registered for a political party. Not registered to vote. My mother does vote, not that it matters, but she would have an aneurysm if she thought I told the internet she doesn't vote. Now, my brother, he does not vote. He calls it being a conscientious objector to the American political machine. Or just lazy. One of the two.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Whinger said...

I've long been a proponent of having cultural literacy classes in schools.
It's SO much more fun to talk about that kind of stuff at parties than European history, although I guess it depends on who is at the party. :)
Actual thing I used to tell my students when I taught when asked, "Why do we have to learn this?" in whiny, sing-songy voice:

"Because you don't want to be the only idiot at a cocktail party when you're an adult who doesn't know who Tybalt is."

11:42 AM  
Blogger Pink Lemonade Diva said...

The Phantom Tollbooth is perhaps my alltime favorite book. that being said, have I incorrectly been calling the author's name Norton??

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Maliavale said...

Holy shit. I STILL think of the title in Spanish, as a reflex, when I hear someone say "One Hundred Years of Solitude."


10:15 PM  

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