Local columnist John Kelly asked readers to tell about “common knowledge” that they somehow missed. Some examples:
A reader named Andrea said she was raised in Upstate New York and didn’t visit Washington until she was 21. Growing up, she would hear about artifacts that were being put “in the Smithsonian.”
Wrote Andrea: “I had always thought that the Smithsonian was that tall pointy thing that I had seen pictures of in textbooks — you know, the Washington Monument — and wondered how it all fit in there. I’m not sure when I was disabused of this idea, but to this day I almost always accidentally call the Washington Monument the ‘Smithsonian’ in my head before pointing it out to people — and identifying it correctly — out loud.”
A reader I’ll call “Jan” has had her driver’s license for 35 years. “I understand how cars work and am a good driver,” she wrote. “However, I only learned from my husband a few years ago what those little white lights on the rear of a car were: the back up lights. . . . I keep wondering what else I don’t know.”
Frederick’s Annie Hughes confessed that until about five years ago, she did not know that thunder is the sound lightning makes. “I am very embarrassed to admit that fact,” she wrote. . . .
Laurel’s Charlie Goedeke calls himself “a highly trained modern engineer” who has always enjoyed classical music. “For years I listened to and appreciated the music of Chopin — as in ‘Chopping,’ with a silent g — on recordings,” Charlie wrote. “At the same time I was vaguely aware of the existence of another composer, ‘Showpan,’ heard often on the radio. It wasn’t until I was in my 40s, when a friend was asked to play a Chopin piece on our piano, that the connection between the two finally clicked.”
Annandale’s Jane Pacelli said that she was baffled for years by two words that seemed to have similar, if not identical, meanings: “The word ‘subtle’ (presumably pronounced SUB-tul) was often seen in print but never heard in conversation,” she wrote. “Its twin was pronounced SUTT-el (and presumably spelled ‘suttle’) and never seen in print.” . . .
One day when he was in his 10th-grade biology class, Germantown’s Vince Opperman listened to the teacher answer a student’s questions about blood transfusions and how important our RH factor is when getting blood.
“This seemed odd to me, not having done my homework,” Vince wrote. “So I asked: ‘What does our age have to do with it?’ Brought down the house.”
We’ve been kind of serious around this blog for awhile, and a jolt of humility is good for all of us. Under the anonymity of the internet, what are some things like these that you should have known but just didn’t?