On Not Being In Possession Of The Facts
Back in high school, I was always exercising. I was in sports, but I wasn’t a great athlete by any stretch. I mostly exercised because I didn’t want to be Fat. (I also smoked cigarettes for the same reason. What a genius I was.)
For a while, I was all about riding my bike. These were the early days of the Mountain Bike. I had this sweet Cannondale with fat tubes and tires. I did nothing off-road but I took a lot of curbs around the wilds of North Mankato. Sailed along the cornfields by my dad’s work, listening to Depeche Mode. There was no traffic, on the roads or the sidewalks. It was really nice.
One night, I was hanging out with my friends. Maybe I was drunk? I don’t know. Anyway, I was talking about riding up hills and how that was no problem because I’d just monkey around with the gears until it was on a better setting for the angle. I said, with pride, “You guys, my bike has TEN speeds.”
My friends died laughing.
“Jesus Christ, Lynn!” Danielle said. “Everyone’s bike has ten speeds. It’s not like you’re riding a banana seat two-wheeler with coaster brakes anymore!”
(My friends sometimes call me ‘Lynn’ – if you really want details, they’re here.)
From that point on, when my friends wanted to give me shit, they’d say, “Hey, did you hear? Carrie’s bike has TEN SPEEDS.”
(Never mind that I’ve never really mastered switching gears on a bicycle. In fact, my current bicycle has no gears because it disgusted Adrian watching me dick around grinding them; he had our friend build me a single speed or whatever you call it. Who cares; I avoid hills mostly these days if I ride my bike.)
The point of all this shit is just that I’m much older now but I keep tripping over gaps in my knowledge. It’s like I’m not paying attention. I’ve never been paying attention. What have I been doing? I don’t know. Reading, probably. But not reading any of the good stuff.
Like, I was reading an essay on perspective and point-of-view in fiction last night, for example. And every fucking example in the essay was from a book I’d heard of but never read. I was all, “How did I teach a class on point-of-view without knowing all this stuff? These are great examples! Jesus Christ, Lynn!”
The other day, I asked Adrian about his time in the Navy. Because I find that exotic and crazy. Who would ever voluntarily join the military, like, ON PURPOSE? What a dumb boy he was at age 18! Anyway, I asked him what kind of gun they gave him in the Navy.
“Nobody gets a gun in the Navy, Carrie,” he said. “The entire ship is one big fucking gun.”
“But what if you’re boarded or something?” I asked.
“If the ship gets boarded, you’re fucked anyway,” he said. “Doesn’t matter if you have a gun at that point.”
DID YOU ALL KNOW THAT ALREADY?
(Also: you don’t have to know how to swim to be in the Navy! So weird.)
Goddamn. I keep getting older and this keeps happening. The only thing that gets keener is my sense of how little I actually know.