posted by Joe Anaya on September 8th, 2014

It’s funny when you find out things that everyone else knows but you don’t. And depending on your mood it can be funny ha-ha or funny awkward.

In our “War” themed summer, one of the picks for family movie night was “Spartacus.” I have never seen the classic Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis starrer. Half way through the movie, my son asks, “Do you want me to spoil it?”

“What? Have you seen this?” I asked.

“No, do you want me to spoil it?” he pestered.

“How do you know what happens if you haven’t seen it?”

“From history.”

“Huh?”

“It’s a true story.”

I had no idea. How could I have missed that bit of information for my whole life? You’d think at some point I would have run across an article or story or conversation where it was mentioned that Spartacus was a real life historical figure. (The spoiler my son was dying to tell me was: His slave rebellion fails.)

It’s not like being an adult and occasionally coming across a word you don’t know. I had never heard of the word “flaccid” until I was in my late 30′s. (I’ll skip the obvious manly joke.) And it’s not like my friend who had never heard the Frost poem, “Road Not Taken.” I’m talking about weird things like my friend’s daughter, a college graduate, who thought bats were mythical creatures like vampires.

The best story is a friend’s. When he was a boy, his father told him, “Humans have tails like monkeys, but the doctors cut off the tails when you’re born.”

Well, 25 years later, after seeing images of obstetricians in labor rooms handing new fathers a pair of scissors and seeing the father cut a thick ropey object off of the newborn infant, of course he still believed humans were born with tails that were cut off at birth. At least he believed until his girlfriend corrected him, after she caught her breath from laughing so hard.

How do you prevent such embarrassments? You don’t. In the immortal words of Donald Rumsfield, “There are known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns.” Things you don’t know that you didn’t know are going to creep up and bite you in the ass. You just gotta smile, take your lumps and say, “I did not know that.” You’ll probably laugh about it later, or someone will laugh about it later.



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