Written by Nutmeg from Simply Nutmeg
When I first saw that this week's theme was 'stupidity', I thought I was going to have to write a letter to the editor, because I had nothing. Dude, I'm just not that familiar with the subject! After some thought, I decided to turn it over to the experts, my four children. I don't mean that they're experts in stupid, I just mean that they have taught me everything I need to know in life. So I presented them each with one question: What comes to your mind when I say 'stupid'? It is in their answers that I found Nutmeg's Four Principles of Stupidity.
Rowan, age 4, answered my query with, "Standing on the potty chair." She was referring to a lesson she learned recently the hard way. She stood on the edge of a little wooden potty chair, flipped it over, and cracked her head on the sink. It really hurt. And there lies the First Principle of Stupidity -- most of us only recognize our stupidity in hindsight, like when we're icing the huge egg on our noggin.
I wish I could say I was better than the preschooler who tipped over the potty, but I usually only recognize my own stupidity after-the-fact. To illustrate, take my first car, a Volkswagen Beatle. Only a few weeks after I bought it, the windshield wipers died. I came up with the brilliant plan of tying shoe strings to the wipers, running the strings through the side windows, tying them together, and manually moving the wipers by yanking the strings from left to right in a horizontal direction. Let's just say that I learned the hindsight principle the hard way and that there are implications to real life if you can't pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time.
Maddie, age 7, answered my question about stupidity with, "Smoking, because you can get sick with a disease." At first glance that might sound like a platitude, but she has actually illuminated the Second Principle of Stupidity: Stupidity usually involves the mouth and the disease she's referring to is Bullshititis. Forrest Gump said, "Stupid is as stupid does." I beg to differ; the truth is, stupid is as stupid says.
I used to try to impress people by always knowing something about whatever the conversation was about. Even if I knew nothing. I'm sure, in hindsight, I made myself look stupid on numerous occasions, but this one stands out in my memory: Many years ago I got into a conversation with some older and wiser college students about music. I had not met The Music Professor yet, so my knowledge was limited to knowing for sure that Bruce Springsteen was cool. The conversation turned to jazz -- danger, Will Robinson -- and somebody asked me what I thought of Billy Holiday. Yes, I answered that he was my all-time favorite. Everybody looked at me like I had just coughed up a looger on their shoe, which, in fact, I had. Man, that lesson hurt, but it has helped me in the years since to shut the hell up when I find myself completely out of my league. Usually. Sometimes. Well, starting today... Abraham Lincoln said it almost as well as Maddie: "Tis better to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt."
Keira, my oldest and wisest at age nine, responded to the question with, "Stupid is one of those words that's a comparison, like short." And there you have the Third Principle of Stupidity: Stupidity is relative, and one can always find someone more stupid than oneself. I recently read about an example of stupidity that made me nearly wet myself laughing. To test the security of a small,
Why do I enjoy this story so much? Aside from my love of irony, I enjoy it because I like to think those guards are so much more stupid than me! I may not know who Billy Holiday is, but I sure as hell can recognize a bomb when I see one!
And finally, I asked ten-month-old Finn what he thought of when I said the word 'stupid', and he answered, "Mamamamama." The Fourth Principle of Stupidity? Whatever stupid-ass thing somebody does, they'll always find a way to blame it on their mother!
A writer, educator, editor, and mom to four little menches, Nutmeg takes life with a grain of salt and a little vodka. You can read her stupid little blog at http://www.simplynutmeg.com.