Thursday, June 15, 2006

How did I not know that before?

You know, in making fun The Husband’s lack of pop-culture knowledge, I am reminded of a few of my own knowledge gaps. For example, when I was a sophomore in high school, I went to the prom and they played “Jump Around” by House of Pain. Somehow, it was the first time I had ever heard that song. Every single other person in the room, including the chaperones, already knew all the words. Granted, the words – “Jump around! Jump around! Jump up, jump up and get down!” – aren’t hard to learn, but it was clear they had known them before.

Then, in college, I told my roommate that about working at a convenience store when I was in high school. I said that was next to a package store. She was confused, and said, “But I thought you said your hometown was a dry town.”

“It was,” I said, wondering what that had to do with anything.

“Oh, then the convenience store was right on the town line or something?” she asked.

“No,” I said, still wondering what she was talking about. “It was well within the city limits.”

“But if it was a dry town, how could there be a package store there?” she asked.

“What do the liquor laws have to do with stores that sell packing materials?” I asked her. Because until that conversation, I had no idea what a package store was, and had apparently supplied myself with my own personal definition.

But my most vivid recollection of being out of the loop is of a day in my high school chemistry class. We were doing a unit on chemical names, and, having learned the standard rules for nomenclature, could successfully identify CO2 as “carbon dioxide” and NO as “nitrous oxide. “But of course there are exceptions to the rules,” the teacher said, and started writing chemical formulas on the board. “These formulas all go by common names. NH4, for example, is not nitrous-tetra-hydrogen, it’s ammonia. And H2O2 is peroxide, not dihydrogen dioxide.” Then she wrote “H2O” on the board and said, “And what is the name for this compound?”

I started to answer, but as I was saying “Dihydrogen monoxide,” I realized the entire rest of the class was shouting, “Water!” Somehow, I have no idea how, I had managed to live 16 years without learning the chemical formula for water.

6 comments:

EditorKat said...

Two words: cake party.

Doktah said...

I was talking to someone when I was very young; I think 5. I still remember because I was traumatized. We were talking and I DID know what H2O was the chemical formula for. I also knew that the Battle of Kursk was one of the largest tank battles of all time. However, later in the conversation it came out that I didn't know that Winnie the Pooh had any human friends. I have since found out that Christopher Robbin was a character in Winnie the Pooh. At the time, I had no idea. I think this mainly came from the fact that my father was in charge of picking bedtime stories. It explains a lot.

Mo said...

For the record, I think that not knowing the chemical formula of water by the age of 16 is at least as bizarre as The Husband's never having heard of Donnie and Marie.

Mo

Banalities said...

Mo, I didn't know what "lingerie" until I was about 15. Well, that's not exactly true.

I knew what it was, because I'd read the word a billion times, and had presumable sometime looked it up in the dictionary, or figured it out based on contextual clues, probably a lingerie ad in the paper -- but because I'd only ever read it, it was always "lingary" in my head.

But if you'd mentioned the word "lawn-zha-ray" in conversation, I would have no idea what you were talking about. Even worse, whenever I heard it, I'd promptly ignore and the forget that I'd heard it, so not only did I not know what "lawn-zha-ray" meant, it never occurred to me to ask what people were talking about.

Mo said...

I didn't know that a "cello" and a "chello" were the same thing (and, in fact, that there is no such thing as a "chello") until high school, and I found out in grad school that "La Jolla, CA" is the town, there is no "La Hoya, CA." But none of these things are as inexplicable as my not knowing what H2O is.

Banalities said...

Actually, this reminds of the day we were eating lunch in the dining commons, when they'd served this super-sweet, super-delicious pie. I couldn't eat more than a couple of bites and mentioned that it was like eating concentrated sugar, and then, TM, a Chemistry major at the time and who had also ventured a taste, confirmed my suspicion: 'That's right baby -- pure NaCl.'