If there was a National Society for the Oblivious, I'd be their poster child.
From the vantage point of my 30+ years on this earth, I can now look back and see those moments when I was totally oblivious to the situation at hand, yet somehow lived to tell about it.
(And yes - I know I'm WAY older than 30. But I'm oblivious to my true age, so saying "50+ years" is not within my capabilities. Got it? Good. We shall never speak of this again.)
I remember visiting my great-grandparents in Hazeldell, Illinois, when I was in grade school. We rode the train - my sister, my mom and my Aunt Lois - and I got to wear my Sunday shoes for the trip. Other than that, I only remember one thing: that the Mayor of Hazeldell let us sit on his horse.
Truth be told, Hazeldell was about the size of Mayberry so the Mayor probably wasn't named Bloomberg. He was probably more like my great-grandparents: loving, hardworking, no nonsense Christian folk who'd rather visit with you on your front porch than gush over your new car.
But heck, I was seven and I was impressed that THE MAYOR let us ride his horse. When I got back, I told that story to anyone in my third grade class who would listen.
Then a few years ago, my mother pointed out that what I got to ride was a MARE that belonged to a neighbor who was the town Constable. Hazeldell, it seems, was too small to have a MAYOR.
Um. . . . duh.
When I was 1o or so, my grandmother had a few apartments that she rented to school teachers. My dad and I were in my her backyard one day when the art teacher who lived above the garage headed to his car with a painting under his arm. He unwrapped it and showed it to my dad and me, telling us that it was the first painting he'd ever sold. I was awestruck. It was the most beautiful painting I'd had ever seen: a creamy, golden sunset filtering through a forest. My dad clapped him on the back and congratulated him. He was less than effusive when I exclaimed "Wow! Is that a paint-by-number??!"
Um. . . duh.
The ensuing years have not bestowed upon me any greater sense of savvy. I'm still as gullible and oblivious as ever.
A few years back, a friend bought one of those new zippy Porsches. A sporty little thing it was, with a push button starter. I wondered how he kept it from being stolen, what with it not needing a key or anything. He explained that the car was SOOOOOO tech savvy that it actually had facial recognition and wouldn't start unless he was behind the wheel.
Wow, I exclaimed. It's a good thing you don't grow a beard in the winter.
Two weeks later, I recounted this story to my dad who gently explained that facial recognition had nothing to do with it - the push button starter only worked if you had the key with you.
Um. . . . duh.
A few years ago, I worked downtown. Every morning, I passed a neatly dressed man panhandling in front of my office building. I appreciated that while his clothes were old and not in the best shape, he always took care to be clean and polite. I could picture him as a tragic icon, an ethical man pushed to unimaginable limits to care for his modest family during his unfortunate unemployment. More than once, I ate peanut butter sandwiches because I'd given him my week's worth of lunch money. But by golly, I was happy to help. In the spring, he'd hand out daffodils as thanks for my modest donation.
Then one day, my boss cautioned me against giving any money to panhandlers - especially that young guy who hung out in front of our building.
Why? I asked. What's wrong with him?
Oh, nothing, she replied. But if you watch him at 9AM, he drives away in a new Lexus and those flowers he hands out are from the city flowerbeds at the back of the building.
Um. . . duh.
My penchant for being oblivious sometimes has immediate and quite public effects. Last week, I was in another building at work and used the ladies room. Now as far as I can tell, I don't think about anything particular while in the ladies room, but I must have had something on my mind this day because I never noticed that the toilets in this ladies room were equipped with automatic flushers.
When the toilet flushed, I about jumped over the stall door. I think I also screamed, because a few coworkers I hadn't yet met came in to see if I was okay.
Didn't you see the flushers mounted on the back of the toilet?, they asked.
Um. . . duh.
Many people make grandiose New Year's resolutions. They want to stop eating so much, or make more money, or learn French.
In 2011, I just don't want to take any wooden nickels.