I’m starting to think that there’s a moment in almost everyone’s life where they feel really, really smart. Where you have confidence, swagger, positive feelings and an unparalleled belief that you are in control of your destiny. I’m also certain that moment hasn’t yet happened for me.
Honest to God, most of the time I feel like I must have experienced some kind of coma or otherwise unconscious period that no one talks about, where I lost possibly many years of everyday, ‘everyone-knows-that’ type of accumulated knowledge. I can’t be certain this coma actually ever happened, probably because everyone around me is either too polite to bring it up or doesn’t want to stir up their own memories of that time. But I’m pretty sure that had to have happened.
Otherwise, there is almost no explanation for something like this:
Tonight as we sat around the table enjoying our Friday night pizza, I mentioned that a colleague had emailed me an aerial photo of England, which showed the country covered in this season’s surprising amount of snowfall. He also told me that last night, it was colder in the Scottish Highlands than it was in Antarctica. (That sounds about right to me. I once shivered through one of the coldest evenings of my life in Edinburgh, Scotland – in July.)
This conversation led to one of my sons talking about the first Ice Age, which came about when an enormous iceberg type thing (I don’t think he actually said ‘type thing’) broke off of Greenland and as it melted, masses of frigid, cold air wafted over Europe and sent the continent into a deep freeze. Everyone at the table seemed to know that was the cause of the first Ice Age except me.) He claims it’s happening again and that’s why so much of the world is experiencing such a harsh winter.
The conversation shifted slightly, and we discussed the very cold weather in Florida and what that might do to the citrus crops growing there. Following that, we had a brief global warming / climate change / skeptic / supporter debate that didn’t get too far. And that’s really for the best. Friday nights and pizza are not built for debate.
Somehow, that launched a discussion about dinosaurs and how interesting it is that no one really, truly knows exactly what killed them off. I offered some pathetic explanation about ‘the cold’ killing them (as if the boys had never heard that before.) The conversation then took a turn again, into a discussion about the meteor that hit the earth and how the resulting gasses and particles that lingered from it blocked the sun, creating the cold that killed the dinosaurs.
Ahem. What? A meteor hit the earth? It did? And blocked the sun? And killed dinosaurs?
My kids looked at me in disbelief. “Well yeah! [Implied but not stated: “You didn’t know that?”] It may have been the same meteor that some people say created the Gulf of Mexico.”
Ahem. A meteor created the Gulf of Mexico?
“Well, it could have but then how could you explain Pangaea? Where did that land go? How could the continents have been connected if it took a meteor to create the Gulf of Mexico?” [I’m pretty sure that last part may have been for my benefit but inexplicably, I did know what Pangaea was. I really did.]
Let’s recap. I had no idea that melting icebergs created the first Ice Age in Europe. I had no idea a meteor had ever hit the earth. I had no idea that the cold that resulted from that meteor blocking the sun may have killed dinosaurs and created the gulf of water off of Mexico.
I’ve left out the carbon-dating discussion, the creationist vs. scientists and the ridiculous nature of the Creationist Museum, and finally, the roster of the members of the Wu Tang Clan, along with the complete CV of The RZA and his upcoming book, The Tao of Wu. If you’re confused, imagine being me at that table. And I live there.
So there it is. Well, most of it. A very partial, very rudimentary list of the bits of accumulated knowledge I missed out on while I existed in a multi-year (secret) coma. God knows what we’ll talk about next Friday.