Flick My Switch

“Flick My Switch”
I’m kind of dim.To put a finer point on it, I lack a certain natural curiosity. Of course, I want to know what’s for dinner, if Heather Mills is able to dance, and when the next Harry Potter will be released. This type of short-term, self-gratifying curiosity I have in spades.But when it comes to questioning assumptions and doing daily analysis of the things that are right in front of me, I fall short. Indeed, my personality falls into the “what is, just is” school (in contrast to the bigger “what is, well, it might not necessarily be” category). Another way to think of this would be:

If there is a pancake on a plate on the table, my brain reacts with a, “Cool. Pancake on table. Must eat it. Now.”

Other people, however, might have the response of, “How did that pancake get there? More importantly, why is it there? What would be the ramifications of eating it? And is it actually a pancake? It looks like a circular bready foodthing, but for all I know it could be slightly-overcooked lefsa. Or it could be a frisbee. Or mayhap it’s a saucy beret that I might toss into the air, Mary Tyler Moore style. Unless I touch it and smell it, I can’t be sure of its possibilities.”

Luckily, if there’s only one pancake on the table, you can rest assured that I’ve polished it off by the time the deeper thinker gets done sorting through his/her litany of questions. Poor, hungry ponderers. Good thing you have all that food for thought to keep you sated.

The earliest instance of my living-upon-unquestioned-assumptions occurred with my parents. My dad was named Donald, and my mom is Maxine. Until well past the age of 9, I assumed that all moms had names that started with “M,” and all dads had names that started with “D”–so that their job titles corresponded with their first intials. It was the Rule of Parenting. Then I met my friend Margaret’s mother Theresa, and that pesky “T” name made my foundations shake. “Couldn’t you just call her your ‘tom’ instead of your ‘mom’?” I asked.

And it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I realized, consciously, that the seasons, well, they would just keep spining ’round and ’round. There was one year in particular when I thought, “Look, it’s winter now. ‘Bout this time last year, wasn’t it winter?” Suddenly, feebly, the bulb flickered on. Once I slowed it all down and made some notations on a Post-It note, a pattern emerged: for every year of my life, there had been a spring followed by a summer followed by a fall followed by a winter. I could, therefore, extrapolate that this succession of seasons might continue into future years, as well. This most definitely affected my shopping; realizing that Land’s End was clearancing swimsuits suddenly made much more sense, for there was clearly a chance that summer-like weather might be back the following year, so buying a swimsuit would not just be a fool’s enterprise.

Then there were the revelations that took place once I got married, and my husband moved to the town where I’d been living for more than three years as a singleton. He, with regularity, would head out on an errand or for a run and then come home and, in a single remark, open up a whole new world to me. One day, he walked in and announced, “Hey, you know, that cemetery here in town is a great place to run; it’s well-paved, flat, and away from traffic.” I looked blankly at him and replied, “Cemetery?” “Well, yes, Joce, there’s a cemetery in this town of 23,000 where they bury the deceased, you know. And it’s right off the highway there.” My blank stare remained until he continued, “It’s over by the Shopko.” OOOOHHH, over by the Shopko. Why didn’t he just say so? But who knew there would be a cemetery in my town? I must have been watching coverage of Princess Diana’s death the day the town gave its seminar entitled “Yes, We Bury the Dead ‘Uns Here in Civilization.” At least, harumph, I knew all about the tragically-deceased ex-princess’ burial. I saw her casket and everything, and her self-righteous brother made that island-dealie to inter her on. Maybe if they’d shown live coverage of someone in my town getting buried–over there by the highway–I might have had an inkling about that cemetery business.

Even my long-suffering husband had to sigh loudly when he witnessed, a couple years after CemeteryGate, my discovery that sunflower seeds come from–GET THIS–sunflowers. Until that fateful day, I only knew they were dropped by a stork into the sunflower-seed-packet-patch and, instead of the options of “boy” or “girl,” I could choose between still-in-shell or already-shelled. Or if I were in a town without a packet patch handy, I could head into the Gas ‘N Chug and buy some. I may be dumb, but I can make a convenience store purchase; many of the dumbest people I know make convenience store purchases. However, who knew that these things in the bag weren’t named “sunflower seeds” due to some manufacturer’s whimsy? Who knew that they literally could be shaken out of a sunflower and then either eaten or planted to grow more sunflowers? This a-ha moment took place after we’d grown sunflowers in our yard, when I one day saw a hail of small objects plummet out of some of the huge yellow heads. “My, my,” said I, “but those little things look a whole lot like the sunflower seeds I buy at the store.” Hey. Wait. A. Minute.

Gazed upon through loving eyes, my pockets of ignorance are charming. Blinder-free, though, we can all agree I’s a dimwit.

What, you need further evidence (beyond the fact that I am *still* astonished that Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold’s marriage didn’t last)?
Okay, so last week, I was out for a run, listening to an NPR story about the new baseball stadium that will be built in Minneapolis in a few years. The pundits kept talking about the Minnesota team–you know, The Twins–when suddenly, I skidded to a stop, right there in the gravel. The Twins. Yea, I’d heard that name for years. My brain bulged out of my ears at that moment, though, as it changed shape one more time. How surreal is it that Minneapolis and St. Paul are called The Twin Cities, and then they have this baseball team called The Twins? Could it be…is it possible…that…there’s a correspondence? I always just figured you have to call a team something, so, sure, why not “Twins”? In the world of sports, there’s The Wild–and I’m guessing they’re kind of, um, like that. It’s not as though they live in Wildville or anything. (Do they?) And also, there are The Rangers. Could it be they all work in a national park, and I’m just now figuring that out?
Quite frankly, I could give you more examples of how I blithely trip through my days, but I have to leave now. See, there’s a pancake on the table over there. Must eat. Now.
Patooooooey. Friggin’ beret. Sorry I poured syrup on your hat, lady. But maybe next time don’t leave it sitting there on the table like that.

Oh, by the way, can anyone explain this to me: every time I click on the button that says “publish” here in Blogger, a bunch of new words shows up on my blog. What’s that all about?



By Jocelyn

There's this game put out by the American Girl company called "300 Wishes"--I really like playing it because then I get to marvel, "Wow, it's like I'm a real live American girl who has 300 wishes, and that doesn't suck, especially compared to being a dead one with none."


  1. Why, yes, Lee, they are words I’ve just written. So, are you implying that it goes something like this:

    1) I type some stuff
    2) I hit Publish
    3) The words show up on my blog

    ???? Whoa.

  2. well see now, as something ofa philosopher (albeit an amply proportioned one since the sight of a pancake does not lead me to existential crisis) i can say that your lack of propensity to great observation affords you the opportunity for every day to be a new adventure when some mundane thing is finally noticed. you, my dear, shall likely never become jaded.

  3. I’m the same way. I call it oblivious in my case.

    The example of the Twins is something I never thought of either.

    My wife is a little worse than I am in this area, so we get along fine 🙂

  4. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so curious.
    Years and years ago I was quizzing my toddler kids on where certain food comes from. I don’t remember the specific questions that led up to the last, but as we passed some cows, I asked my son, “do you know where hamburger comes from?”

    He rolled his eyes and answered as if that question was too easy for a wise toddler as himself, “McDonald’s” he confidently answered.

    I just thought to myself “DUH!”

    MMMM, I love sunflower seeds.

  5. Well thank goodness Lee was able to help with the Publish Button Question as I had bee wondering what was up with that, too.

    I never made the Twins connection. I organize the town I work in and the towns I shop in by their directions from the Shopko.

    I do, however, know where the cemetaries are. They are the places you drive by to mark the towns you pass to and from the Shopkos. Yes?

  6. Gawd, you’re an absolute riot!!
    Great ending! Nope I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout them weird bloggin’ words! Could they possibly be that there computer language from some country called HTML??!!

  7. I can relate…..I call it oblivious though like Hammer. My husband finds it to be hilarious to once again point out something he thinks is obvious that just never dawned on me…..Sunflowers and sunflower seeds huh? Yeah took me awhile to figure that one out also 🙂 Also when younger I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the thought that people on tv didn’t really live those lives…. just like the fact I have a hard time people on the radio not actually living in the radio….

  8. I am still chuckling, charmed by the idea that you assumed that all mommy’s names began with “M” and all daddy’s with “D.” Child logic is wonderful.

    I had a similar epiphane over sunflower seeds in the feed store.

    And for years, I thought that “misled” was pronounced “mizelled” which meant the same thing as “misled” until I read something with the word hyphenated at the end of a line. It was a real holy shit moment, that it was, in fact, only ONE word, pronounced “miss led.”

    And you recently complimented me on my use of words. I bet you’ll take that back now.

    This was such a fun post!! See you tomorrow.

  9. Sunflower seeds yum! (too bad the boy is allergic to those too)

    I do stuff like this too.. Out to lunch with a friend and her friend for the (second) friend’s birthday. “Your birthday is 060606?! That’s amazing- does that happen to anyone else in your family?!” Was met with blinking and blank stares.

  10. I read your blog and I laugh. Is there a connection? Does it involve alien abduction?

    Squirrels are supposed to be curious but in fact we are just looking for nuts. “Nuts! Must eat now!”. :)=

  11. I totally understand you Jocelyn. It was recently pointed out to me, much to my surprise, that Rice Krispies were in fact made with…rice. I’m a tool.

  12. Until recently, my husband thought peanuts grew on pea trees.
    I wrote a comment yesterday, but it never actually made it here. Something funny going on with firewalls I think. Let’s see if this works.

  13. AH yes the wonders of the universe… When I uncover the truths of the universe that to me are light bulb moments, it is only to discover that I am light years behind my fellow peeps! I call these lapses “blonde moments”, as a fellow red-head, I hope you can take comfort in these words…it is NOT our fault, that we have a lot of blonde pigment in our genes!!!
    love ya Jocelyn…HEY…wait a minute…when I hit publish your comment, MY words appear in YOUR blog…

  14. Now the question is if you hit publish, and no one is around, do the words really exist? This isn’t a problem in your case, I see you’ve got lots of admirers. Now I’ll just push Publish and some words will mysteriously appear on your blog.

  15. Do you mean, our brain is used for thinking? Light bulb flashing, oooohhh. Cool.

    I have many “blonde moments”, too. And I am not a natural blonde.

    I never made the connection to the MN Twins name coming from Twins. Does that mean Packers’ name come from a sponsor (a packing company)? OOhhh.

  16. Mmm, pancakes…

    I’ve often thought life would be considerably easier if we operated on a need to know basis.

    Ignorance is bliss.


  17. Jocelyn,
    I love this post.
    Oh man, you crack me up.
    I am one of those other people.
    There are times though that things cannot be explained to my satisfaction in which cases my husband tells me in exasteration,
    “Its just FM (f**king magic)!!”
    See, you and I get the same explanations :p

  18. I just had one of those “Eureka!” moments recently, too, but since I’m a bit of a scatterbrain, I’ve already forgotten what it was. Oh, well. Now I get the joy of discovering it all over again. 😉

  19. LOL! You crack me up! I’ll never forget the “doh!” moment I had when I figured out that in the college class listings that “Staff” was not one really busy professor with the last name of Staff flitting from class to class and sometimes teaching multiple classes at once.

    And just because I want to possibly make your brain bulge out again, did you know that The Lakers basketball team was originally from Minnesota…Lakers…land of ten thousand lakes…

  20. Great post jocelyn.
    I’m a basic thinker except when I have to take a multiple choice test. I usually do poorly on these because I overanalyze every choice.
    I’m not sure how this publish thing works but I’m going to go practice and get back to ya..maybe.

  21. It’s the Homer Simpson School of Thought. You are so funny! Better that than overthinking everything to Death the way I do.

  22. HA! You come up with some amazing stuff from your head. And miraculously, it makes sense!

  23. You had me at the end there, given all of Blogger’s stupid problems, I thought you were referring to an error message.

    And I think that we are polar opposites in the curiosity dept. I am TOO curious. I’m catlike curious, which makes it a good thing that I have 12 lives. (I get an extra three for being human)

  24. Thanks, now you ruined my whole pancakeret idea. I know what you’re thinking, that sounds like an edible bird…that’s another concept that I won’t share lessen you ruin that too.

  25. Some other cultural facts that may not have occured to you are that our northern weather-persons do not talk about the “windsheild” factor, but the “wind chill” factor. Also, the first line of the 3rd verse of “Margueritaville” goes, “Blew out my flip flop. Stepped on on pop top.”

    Consider yourself up to speed.

  26. This post made me smile…
    I’ve definitely had a few moments like that– where those things you take for granted suddenly make sense.
    I always miss out on puns until a day or two later.

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