Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nobody Told Me What Stupid Looked Like

I've been weeding.  Weeding is SO not something I do.  Mostly because I really don't have a good grasp on what are weeds and what are not.  I mean, some of them are obvious.  Clover, dandelions, and those stupid fake strawberry things.  I also know a few others, but only after carefully cultivating and watering them for an entire damned summer only to find that the tall stringy-leaved plants were NEVER gonna bloom into anything.  At all. 

Several (many, many) years ago, I dated a fellow who I shall call :"Pat." He had one of those nice, androgynous names. 

Not this Pat, but close.
(Not really, but I'm harboring a grudge. Apparently.)

One of his grandparents had been a president or owner or something of a now-defunct railroad company, and had (by my standards) a lot of money.  I heard a LOT about his "lots of money" but in a "we don't talk about how MUCH money our family has" kind of way.  Anyway, his grandfather wrote and (I imagine, self-) published a book called (I'm going to change the plant, since I don't want his rich-but-we-don't-talk-about-it family to sue me) "Nobody Told Me What Tomatoes Looked Like."  This darling little tome was the story of his life, from rags to riches-that-we-don't-ever-ever-discuss.  But the source of the title was something about which this man was very proud.

In a nutshell, his first job was weeding someone's garden.  They told him to go to the tomato patch and pull all of the weeds.  Well, go he did, and pull he did.  Thing is, he weeded out all of the tomato seedlings. All. Of. Them.

His response, when they were telling him why he got fired, was, "But, nobody told me what tomatoes looked like!"
I'll bet that's a WEED, right, Cletus?

He, somehow, used this as a way to describe how he rose from poverty to unspoken-of (frequently unspoken-of) wealth.

Now, at the time, I laughed along with all the rest, but it rankled.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but it was a little family in-joke, and I was glad to be in on it.

Now?  Ugh.  I know why it bugs.  It's galling when someone uses their own ignorance as something of which they are proud.  WHY didn't he think to ask what the tomato sprouts looked like?  Why didn't he ASK? Didn't it occur to him that if there were eleventy-thousand of the same exact little plants in the plot, that maybe just maybe they might be the tomatoes?

The implication was that since he was not TOLD -- specifically told -- that he could not be held responsible.

This makes me think of all the people in college (yes, in COLLEGE) who pepper the professor with "Will this be on the test?" You know, if you're there to learn or do a job, that IS the test.  Life is the test.  Willful ignorance is not something about which one should be proud. It is something to never do, unless you're trying to convince your parents that you DO believe in Santa.  I'll give you that one.

My little son tries to pull this on me sometimes.  "But, Mama, you didn't TELL me to put on pants!"
I remind him that our heads all contain the remarkable thing called BRAINS, and that one should first try to use one's own brain.  Not mine, not your sister's.  Yours. 

1 comment:

smalltownme said...

You hit on one of my pet peeves. Whatever happened to common sense? Seems like few people have it any more.