So, it looks like, in the middle of my Summer of Purging, I might end up going to Harvard. I know. You are thinking, “But, Mrs. Cap’n Firepants, haven’t you already been to Harvard for 4 years? It’s quite apparent from your erudite vocabulary that you attended an Ivy League school.”
Which leads me to my true topic for the day, which is, “Why do people think that I know things that I don’t?”
I am going to Harvard for a week-long conference on a topic that I never heard of, substituting for someone else who registered and cannot go. She kindly recommended me to take her place, and I am really excited. Because the Car Talk Guys, Tom and Ray, are in Cambridge. And they are retiring in October. So, this is my last chance to be in their “fair city” while they are still broadcasting. Although it’s not like I’m going to visit them or anything. Probably. I mean, I’m not planning to stalk them. Not in any kind of illegal sense anyway.
For some reason, this person who cannot go thought of me and Harvard in the same sentence. And that cracks me up. But it doesn’t really surprise me. I exude an air of Harvardness, I guess. It’s been my curse for years.
People are always asking me questions to which I can’t possibly know the answer, and then they seem completely shocked when I say, “I don’t know.”
For example, we passed a work crew on a busy street the other day, and my car passenger said, “Are they putting in a new telephone pole?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Well, what do you think they were doing?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
And so continues the questioning, with the same answer every time, until the person sullenly admits defeat or the next slightly out of the ordinary scene catches the person’s eye, and I am subjected to a new round.
The reason these questions bother me is because A) the person assumes that I was perceptive enough to observe the same exact thing he or she saw, and I am both completely blind and thoroughly unobservant 2.) the person assumes that I am in charge of city work crew assignments, and III) the person assumes I give a care.
And, for some reason, people seem to think that, if they ask me more and more detailed questions, that I will suddenly have a revelation and be able to answer what I could not answer before because they pried it out of me with their amazing interrogation skills.
This is why I like teaching gifted students. They are all under the assumption that I know absolutely nothing, and they are pleasantly surprised whenever I reveal a modicum of wisdom. When I say, “I don’t know” to one of their questions, they just move on instead of trying to pull out my fingernails one by one until I give them the answer.
So, I will be going to Harvard later this summer. But I’m not going to tell anyone I know because their expectations are already way too high, and I am pretty certain that 5 days on that prestigious campus will qualify me for about as much as my achievements playing Pocket Law Firm on my iPad.