I Did Not Know That

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.”

via Day 2 of ‘I Did Not Know That’: So-called common knowledge – The Washington Post.

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?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Like until I was maybe 20, something like that age, I thought water weighed about 32 lbs. per cubic foot. I was discussing something at the Thanksgiving dinner table with my uncle, a naval architect, and I just said it in the course of conversation. He just quietly corrected me, no big deal. But oh, no, being foolish, I insisted, LOL. He rolled his eyes and raised his hands up in that gesture of sort of asking God to have mercy. I then realized that duh, I couldn’t be right, I must have memorized it wrong somewhere along the line.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Like until I was maybe 20, something like that age, I thought water weighed about 32 lbs. per cubic foot. I was discussing something at the Thanksgiving dinner table with my uncle, a naval architect, and I just said it in the course of conversation. He just quietly corrected me, no big deal. But oh, no, being foolish, I insisted, LOL. He rolled his eyes and raised his hands up in that gesture of sort of asking God to have mercy. I then realized that duh, I couldn’t be right, I must have memorized it wrong somewhere along the line.

  • http://hannafaithwriting.blogspot.com Hanna Faith

    I found out just last night that all snow flakes have six points. I didn’t know it mattered. My parents both assumed it was common knowledge, but neither I, my sister, nor my brother knew. And, judging by answers to my status, several of my Facebook friends don’t know either.

  • http://hannafaithwriting.blogspot.com Hanna Faith

    I found out just last night that all snow flakes have six points. I didn’t know it mattered. My parents both assumed it was common knowledge, but neither I, my sister, nor my brother knew. And, judging by answers to my status, several of my Facebook friends don’t know either.

  • Other Gary

    I blame grade school teachers and poorly written science textbooks for this one. I was taught in school that our seasons of winter, spring, etc., were caused because “the earth wobbles on its axis.” No kidding, that was the explanation, verbatim. I knew intuitively it didn’t make sense–why would the axis of our planet’s rotation “wobble”? I was in my 20s before I realized the truth, how the axis of rotation is not at 90 degrees to the plane of the planet’s orbit around the sun. Because the angle of rotation is inclined, at one point in the annual orbit the north pole is tilted toward the sun, and on the opposite side of the orbit it’s tilted away. Nothing “wobbles”! (Well, Weebles wobble, but that’s entirely different.)

  • Other Gary

    I blame grade school teachers and poorly written science textbooks for this one. I was taught in school that our seasons of winter, spring, etc., were caused because “the earth wobbles on its axis.” No kidding, that was the explanation, verbatim. I knew intuitively it didn’t make sense–why would the axis of our planet’s rotation “wobble”? I was in my 20s before I realized the truth, how the axis of rotation is not at 90 degrees to the plane of the planet’s orbit around the sun. Because the angle of rotation is inclined, at one point in the annual orbit the north pole is tilted toward the sun, and on the opposite side of the orbit it’s tilted away. Nothing “wobbles”! (Well, Weebles wobble, but that’s entirely different.)

  • Jack

    For the longest time, I could not understand why Jesus would want to sleep in “heavenly peas”.

  • Jack

    For the longest time, I could not understand why Jesus would want to sleep in “heavenly peas”.

  • Michael B.

    One thing that I was misinformed until just a few years ago was how prevalent homosexuality is among heterosexual men in the world at large. For one, I thought the idea of heterosexuals engaging in homosexual behavior was just a lie by those advocating that “homosexuals could change”. Second, as a heterosexual male, the idea of a homosexual encounter never crossed my mind. Therefore, I unconsciously reasoned, it must never cross the mind of any heterosexual male. What I didn’t imagine as a possibility is that not all men have women around, and they begin to seek other outlets.

  • Michael B.

    One thing that I was misinformed until just a few years ago was how prevalent homosexuality is among heterosexual men in the world at large. For one, I thought the idea of heterosexuals engaging in homosexual behavior was just a lie by those advocating that “homosexuals could change”. Second, as a heterosexual male, the idea of a homosexual encounter never crossed my mind. Therefore, I unconsciously reasoned, it must never cross the mind of any heterosexual male. What I didn’t imagine as a possibility is that not all men have women around, and they begin to seek other outlets.

  • Matthew

    I can’t think of any really good examples from my own experience, so I’ll tattle on my wife. After we had been married a few years, she revealed that she had a distaste for the expression “horny” (i.e., sexually aroused), because it reminded her of a toad, “you know, the great horny toad.” No, dear, that’s the great horned toad. No connection.

  • Matthew

    I can’t think of any really good examples from my own experience, so I’ll tattle on my wife. After we had been married a few years, she revealed that she had a distaste for the expression “horny” (i.e., sexually aroused), because it reminded her of a toad, “you know, the great horny toad.” No, dear, that’s the great horned toad. No connection.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    What I didn’t imagine as a possibility is that not all men have women around, and they begin to seek other outlets.

    Is it that the women are not there, or that the women are not available due to social systems of the culture? I mean in China and India, the women literally are not there because there are more men than women. But in the islamic world, the women are there but you can’t have one unless you marry her and you can’t marry her unless you do x,y,z in which case you could have several leaving other guys with none.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    What I didn’t imagine as a possibility is that not all men have women around, and they begin to seek other outlets.

    Is it that the women are not there, or that the women are not available due to social systems of the culture? I mean in China and India, the women literally are not there because there are more men than women. But in the islamic world, the women are there but you can’t have one unless you marry her and you can’t marry her unless you do x,y,z in which case you could have several leaving other guys with none.

  • Julian

    It was only a couple years ago that I learned that the word “macabre” was not pronounced “MACK-uh-bray”.

    Also, I remember as a kid, having a violent argument with my younger sister over the fact that I believed that “a thousand” was a larger value than “a million”. Of course, in the industry I currently work in, a “thou” and a “mil” refer to the same quantity, leaving me further confused.

  • Julian

    It was only a couple years ago that I learned that the word “macabre” was not pronounced “MACK-uh-bray”.

    Also, I remember as a kid, having a violent argument with my younger sister over the fact that I believed that “a thousand” was a larger value than “a million”. Of course, in the industry I currently work in, a “thou” and a “mil” refer to the same quantity, leaving me further confused.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @6

    When I was a kid in the Rio Grande Valley, we called them horny toads.
    They are actually a kind of lizard, not a toad.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @6

    When I was a kid in the Rio Grande Valley, we called them horny toads.
    They are actually a kind of lizard, not a toad.

  • Joe

    when I was a kid (8 or so), I thought the phrase “according to the scriptures” in the Nicene Creed was a qualifier (as in not I’m saying it’s true I just telling you what the Bible says) rather than a statement that Christ’s resurrection was predicted.

  • Joe

    when I was a kid (8 or so), I thought the phrase “according to the scriptures” in the Nicene Creed was a qualifier (as in not I’m saying it’s true I just telling you what the Bible says) rather than a statement that Christ’s resurrection was predicted.

  • Tom Hering

    I didn’t know it was the prostate that produces semen until I lost my prostate. (No, it didn’t fall out of my pants.) Male body ignorance.

  • Tom Hering

    I didn’t know it was the prostate that produces semen until I lost my prostate. (No, it didn’t fall out of my pants.) Male body ignorance.

  • Morgan

    Up to the point of age 5 or 6, I was completely convinced that until say, 1960 or so, the entire world was colorless. Then something inexplicable (at least to me) happened and suddenly there was color everywhere, a’la the movie Pleasantville.

    ‘Swhat you get for watching too much of that darn teevee. Be ye warned!

  • Morgan

    Up to the point of age 5 or 6, I was completely convinced that until say, 1960 or so, the entire world was colorless. Then something inexplicable (at least to me) happened and suddenly there was color everywhere, a’la the movie Pleasantville.

    ‘Swhat you get for watching too much of that darn teevee. Be ye warned!

  • Rick

    It wasn’t until we were married that my dear wife realized that search lights were not looking for lost birds (an idea her dad told her)…

  • Rick

    It wasn’t until we were married that my dear wife realized that search lights were not looking for lost birds (an idea her dad told her)…

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I used to think that the chorus to “Sad but True” by Metallica was “Sand Patrol.”

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I used to think that the chorus to “Sad but True” by Metallica was “Sand Patrol.”

  • Kyralessa

    In Sunday school growing up, I heard many times that while the Jews used to speak Hebrew, in Jesus’s time they spoke Aramaic.

    Somehow in my mind (or perhaps someone actually told me this?) this morphed into the idea that Aramaic was a sort of slangy, everyday-casual Hebrew, as opposed to the “formal” Hebrew of the Old Testament. Analogous, perhaps, to the difference between 20th century English and KJV English.

    I was quite surprised when it finally clicked (probably in college) that Aramaic was actually another whole language, distinct from Hebrew, though from the same language family. One isn’t purer or more formal than the other; they’re just two different languages.

  • Kyralessa

    In Sunday school growing up, I heard many times that while the Jews used to speak Hebrew, in Jesus’s time they spoke Aramaic.

    Somehow in my mind (or perhaps someone actually told me this?) this morphed into the idea that Aramaic was a sort of slangy, everyday-casual Hebrew, as opposed to the “formal” Hebrew of the Old Testament. Analogous, perhaps, to the difference between 20th century English and KJV English.

    I was quite surprised when it finally clicked (probably in college) that Aramaic was actually another whole language, distinct from Hebrew, though from the same language family. One isn’t purer or more formal than the other; they’re just two different languages.

  • Booklover

    O.K., Dr. L., on that note. . .I used to think that the line “But the one most requested by the man she knew as Cowboy” in Oak Ridge Boys’ “Ya’ll Come Back Saloon,” was “But the one most requested by the mangy U.S. cowboy.”

    And I, too, mispronounced “Chopin” as “Choppin’” as a senior in high school before my performance. Very embarrasing. As a piano teacher, I now verbally discuss composers with my students, as well as hand them CD’s for listening opportunities.

    Also, my uncle, a learned preacher, once corrected his wife in front of the entire congregation for spelling salmon as “S-A-L-M-O-N” in the church bulletin. He had always thought it had 2 M’s and no L.

    Lastly, my mother-in-law always enjoyed making “quick,” her dish of eggs and such. She thought that when people mentioned “keesh,” they were talking about an entirely different dish.

  • Booklover

    O.K., Dr. L., on that note. . .I used to think that the line “But the one most requested by the man she knew as Cowboy” in Oak Ridge Boys’ “Ya’ll Come Back Saloon,” was “But the one most requested by the mangy U.S. cowboy.”

    And I, too, mispronounced “Chopin” as “Choppin’” as a senior in high school before my performance. Very embarrasing. As a piano teacher, I now verbally discuss composers with my students, as well as hand them CD’s for listening opportunities.

    Also, my uncle, a learned preacher, once corrected his wife in front of the entire congregation for spelling salmon as “S-A-L-M-O-N” in the church bulletin. He had always thought it had 2 M’s and no L.

    Lastly, my mother-in-law always enjoyed making “quick,” her dish of eggs and such. She thought that when people mentioned “keesh,” they were talking about an entirely different dish.

  • Booklover

    I can spell “embarrassing.”

  • Booklover

    I can spell “embarrassing.”

  • Booklover

    While sitting amongst fellow graduates in my college commencement ceremony, I noticed that most of us graduates had black tassels on our caps, while a few of them had blue or gold tassels. It was announced at the ceremony that those who graduated with high honors wore blue, and those with highest honors wore gold. I had graduated with highest honors, but since I did not know of this custom, I sat there with my plain black tassel.

    I was smart enough to earn the honor, but too dumb to brag about it. . .

  • Booklover

    While sitting amongst fellow graduates in my college commencement ceremony, I noticed that most of us graduates had black tassels on our caps, while a few of them had blue or gold tassels. It was announced at the ceremony that those who graduated with high honors wore blue, and those with highest honors wore gold. I had graduated with highest honors, but since I did not know of this custom, I sat there with my plain black tassel.

    I was smart enough to earn the honor, but too dumb to brag about it. . .

  • JonSLC

    I remember as a kid thinking it was strange that we sang to Santa Claus in church. You know, “O Santa, O Santa, O Santa in the highest”? “In the highest” referring, of course, to the North Pole — can’t get much higher than that!

    So now I explain “Hosanna” to the kids (and grown-ups!) about once a year in the children’s message or in the bulletin. Since singing to Santa Claus is, well, not advisable in the Divine Service. :)

  • JonSLC

    I remember as a kid thinking it was strange that we sang to Santa Claus in church. You know, “O Santa, O Santa, O Santa in the highest”? “In the highest” referring, of course, to the North Pole — can’t get much higher than that!

    So now I explain “Hosanna” to the kids (and grown-ups!) about once a year in the children’s message or in the bulletin. Since singing to Santa Claus is, well, not advisable in the Divine Service. :)

  • BryanS

    I grew up thinking that one section of the Page 5 liturgy was a little trite. When the congregation responded to the pastors’ “Our help is in the name of the Lord” with “Who made heaven and earth.” I heard this as a question that the congragation was asking because they hadn’t been paying attention to what the pastor just said. Consequently, he scolded us with “I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” Which meant you should know who created everything. Then, we as a congregation proceeded to ask for forgiveness of our sin of not paying attention. Next Sunday we made the same mistake again.

  • BryanS

    I grew up thinking that one section of the Page 5 liturgy was a little trite. When the congregation responded to the pastors’ “Our help is in the name of the Lord” with “Who made heaven and earth.” I heard this as a question that the congragation was asking because they hadn’t been paying attention to what the pastor just said. Consequently, he scolded us with “I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” Which meant you should know who created everything. Then, we as a congregation proceeded to ask for forgiveness of our sin of not paying attention. Next Sunday we made the same mistake again.

  • Matthew

    Bryan @20, I, too, used to hear that and think “But that’s not what you just said. You said, ‘Our help is in the name of the Lord.’”

    I was probably a teenager before I understood the “I shall not want” in Psalm 23:1. Why don’t I want him?

  • Matthew

    Bryan @20, I, too, used to hear that and think “But that’s not what you just said. You said, ‘Our help is in the name of the Lord.’”

    I was probably a teenager before I understood the “I shall not want” in Psalm 23:1. Why don’t I want him?

  • Jeremiah

    For years I used to think that “The Wizard of Oz” was the first movie filmed in color. No factual basis, just that the whole stepping out into Oz seemed like the perfect introduction to color movies. Of course whenever I mention that, my wife points out her parents grew up seeing it in black and white on TV and didn’t realize for years that a huge part of it was in color!

  • Jeremiah

    For years I used to think that “The Wizard of Oz” was the first movie filmed in color. No factual basis, just that the whole stepping out into Oz seemed like the perfect introduction to color movies. Of course whenever I mention that, my wife points out her parents grew up seeing it in black and white on TV and didn’t realize for years that a huge part of it was in color!

  • Robin

    I didn’t know what a subpoena was when I saw the word written. I thought it was pronounced sub- po- e-na. I asked someone what that was and they died laughing. Very humiliating!

  • Robin

    I didn’t know what a subpoena was when I saw the word written. I thought it was pronounced sub- po- e-na. I asked someone what that was and they died laughing. Very humiliating!

  • R. Hall

    You don’t want to be in a vanful of Patrick Henry students (all of whom have studied philosophy by this time) returning from a moot court trip when you say something about Dess-car-tay. But I was.

  • R. Hall

    You don’t want to be in a vanful of Patrick Henry students (all of whom have studied philosophy by this time) returning from a moot court trip when you say something about Dess-car-tay. But I was.

  • Joe

    Robin — I am a lawyer and I have to say Sub-po-ena in my head every time I have to write/type the word.

  • Joe

    Robin — I am a lawyer and I have to say Sub-po-ena in my head every time I have to write/type the word.

  • Nathaniel

    When I went to college my roommate was from Los Angeles and had never seen farm animals that weren’t in a book. He was convinced that milk came from a factory and it took some work (and input from several other friends) to convince him milk came from a cow.

  • Nathaniel

    When I went to college my roommate was from Los Angeles and had never seen farm animals that weren’t in a book. He was convinced that milk came from a factory and it took some work (and input from several other friends) to convince him milk came from a cow.

  • Norman Teigen

    I learned that many common names come from trade and commerce. It seems obvious. Cook, Baker, Cartwright, Cooper, Plowman, Miller, Appleman, Drover, Groat, Booth, Waggoner, and more. I am sure that many common names from Germany show the same tendency.

    Norman Teigen
    Hopkins MN

  • Norman Teigen

    I learned that many common names come from trade and commerce. It seems obvious. Cook, Baker, Cartwright, Cooper, Plowman, Miller, Appleman, Drover, Groat, Booth, Waggoner, and more. I am sure that many common names from Germany show the same tendency.

    Norman Teigen
    Hopkins MN

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    For much of my childhood, I had the impression that Jesus spoke to Nicodemus on the moon. Later, I wondered where the impression came from, and realized our church library had given out free bookmarks. The discourse in John 3 had a picture above it, the famous earthrise picture taken from the moon. It was a very popular picture at the time, as this was just a few years after the moon landing.

    The other bookmark was the Sheep and the Goats passage from Matthew 25. It had a picture of waves crashing on rocks. For long afterwards, I pictured the Last Judgment taking place at the beach. I imagined sitting on bleacher seats waiting for thousands of people to be processed, and being bored out of my skull.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    For much of my childhood, I had the impression that Jesus spoke to Nicodemus on the moon. Later, I wondered where the impression came from, and realized our church library had given out free bookmarks. The discourse in John 3 had a picture above it, the famous earthrise picture taken from the moon. It was a very popular picture at the time, as this was just a few years after the moon landing.

    The other bookmark was the Sheep and the Goats passage from Matthew 25. It had a picture of waves crashing on rocks. For long afterwards, I pictured the Last Judgment taking place at the beach. I imagined sitting on bleacher seats waiting for thousands of people to be processed, and being bored out of my skull.

  • Orianna Laun

    For the longest time I wondered what kind of light Donzerly was. I finally discovered it was “dawn’s early.” I was in at least eighth grade before I learned that Leroy Brown was not “the baddest man in the whole DOWNtown.” My husband teases me about these from time to time, yet (out of interest of preserving the peace) I fail to remind him that I knew long before I was twenty that Helen Keller and President Obama are not of the same ethnicity.
    Speaking of the liturgy, I still wish they had not kept the part where we confess we are hardly sorry for our sins.

  • Orianna Laun

    For the longest time I wondered what kind of light Donzerly was. I finally discovered it was “dawn’s early.” I was in at least eighth grade before I learned that Leroy Brown was not “the baddest man in the whole DOWNtown.” My husband teases me about these from time to time, yet (out of interest of preserving the peace) I fail to remind him that I knew long before I was twenty that Helen Keller and President Obama are not of the same ethnicity.
    Speaking of the liturgy, I still wish they had not kept the part where we confess we are hardly sorry for our sins.

  • Steve Bauer

    Other Gary @3

    Nothing “wobbles”! (Well, Weebles wobble, but that’s entirely different.)

    You are correct that the seasons are caused by the tilt of the earth’s axis relative to the sun, but the axis also “wobbles” (the formal term is “precesses”.

    http://www.wwu.edu/depts/skywise/a101_precession.html

  • Steve Bauer

    Other Gary @3

    Nothing “wobbles”! (Well, Weebles wobble, but that’s entirely different.)

    You are correct that the seasons are caused by the tilt of the earth’s axis relative to the sun, but the axis also “wobbles” (the formal term is “precesses”.

    http://www.wwu.edu/depts/skywise/a101_precession.html

  • Steve Bauer

    It took me a while before I realized it wasn’t “Though Satan with his snares / May seize me unnerwares”

  • Steve Bauer

    It took me a while before I realized it wasn’t “Though Satan with his snares / May seize me unnerwares”

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    Orianna must live in a very rough city if there’s someone badder than Leroy living there.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    Orianna must live in a very rough city if there’s someone badder than Leroy living there.

  • J.C.

    Since childhood, I thought the big piece of furniture in my parent’s room where they kept their clothes and sheets was called ‘Chester’ drawers, like it was an official name or something. I was 30 before someone caught my mispronunciation and told me it was, simply, a chest-of-drawers.

  • J.C.

    Since childhood, I thought the big piece of furniture in my parent’s room where they kept their clothes and sheets was called ‘Chester’ drawers, like it was an official name or something. I was 30 before someone caught my mispronunciation and told me it was, simply, a chest-of-drawers.

  • fjsteve

    I’m sure there are a few factoids that I just never knew. Irregardless, at this point in time I can’t think of any and I don’t see it happening in the eminent future. I was talking this threw with a coworker this morning trying to illicit memories of being wrong about something were uncapable of thinking of anything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people that thinks there always write. I seen to many of them in the passed, and there so obnoxious. I just can not think of anything.

  • fjsteve

    I’m sure there are a few factoids that I just never knew. Irregardless, at this point in time I can’t think of any and I don’t see it happening in the eminent future. I was talking this threw with a coworker this morning trying to illicit memories of being wrong about something were uncapable of thinking of anything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people that thinks there always write. I seen to many of them in the passed, and there so obnoxious. I just can not think of anything.

  • fjsteve

    In all candor, though, I also spent the majority of my childhood thinking I had chester drawers (or rather, not thinking that much at all about the fact that I had chester drawers). And I was far too old by the time I realized The McCoys weren’t singing the Red Baron’s infamous battle with a dog on a flying dog house. In my defense, who the heck goes by the name “Sloopy”?

  • fjsteve

    In all candor, though, I also spent the majority of my childhood thinking I had chester drawers (or rather, not thinking that much at all about the fact that I had chester drawers). And I was far too old by the time I realized The McCoys weren’t singing the Red Baron’s infamous battle with a dog on a flying dog house. In my defense, who the heck goes by the name “Sloopy”?

  • helen

    I lost the 8th grade county spelling bee.
    They said “Spell buffet.” (Actually, they said, “Spell buf fay.”)
    And I spelled it like bouquet. Wrong! :(

    Buffet, as furniture or food, I’d heard spoken.

    But in print, I’d read buffet, as in being pushed around by the wind, or a person.

  • helen

    I lost the 8th grade county spelling bee.
    They said “Spell buffet.” (Actually, they said, “Spell buf fay.”)
    And I spelled it like bouquet. Wrong! :(

    Buffet, as furniture or food, I’d heard spoken.

    But in print, I’d read buffet, as in being pushed around by the wind, or a person.

  • Orianna Laun

    I could not, for the life of me figure out how Leroy was compared to others downtown when the singer had already indicated that he was from the south side. A few months ago I heard the song on the oldies station and it gave further proof of my confusion. The line talked about “downtown ladies.” I told my husband that this was further justification for my confusion. He then informed me who these ladies were. Yikes! And my mom disliked Guitarzan because he said “shut up?!”

  • Orianna Laun

    I could not, for the life of me figure out how Leroy was compared to others downtown when the singer had already indicated that he was from the south side. A few months ago I heard the song on the oldies station and it gave further proof of my confusion. The line talked about “downtown ladies.” I told my husband that this was further justification for my confusion. He then informed me who these ladies were. Yikes! And my mom disliked Guitarzan because he said “shut up?!”

  • SKPeterson

    This may be a little mack – a – bray, but I always wondered why they had a special term for people who killed themselves in the gutter – ‘sewer side’.

    It also took a while for me to figure out that the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit were the same thing, and that He most definitely was not like Casper, the Friendly Ghost.

  • SKPeterson

    This may be a little mack – a – bray, but I always wondered why they had a special term for people who killed themselves in the gutter – ‘sewer side’.

    It also took a while for me to figure out that the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit were the same thing, and that He most definitely was not like Casper, the Friendly Ghost.

  • mikeb

    It was time to replace the battery in my wife’s car not long after we married. She called me to say the car wouldn’t start and asked if she needed to pick up some “starter fluid”.

    My mother’s name is Mary. At Christmastime when we all about 4 or 5 my cousins and I were going somewhere with their mom. The older cousin asked is mom, “Is Michael baby Jesus’ brother?”

    Thankfully, there aren’t enough bits of storage on all of the Internet for me to list all the stupid things I’ve said, thought or done.

  • mikeb

    It was time to replace the battery in my wife’s car not long after we married. She called me to say the car wouldn’t start and asked if she needed to pick up some “starter fluid”.

    My mother’s name is Mary. At Christmastime when we all about 4 or 5 my cousins and I were going somewhere with their mom. The older cousin asked is mom, “Is Michael baby Jesus’ brother?”

    Thankfully, there aren’t enough bits of storage on all of the Internet for me to list all the stupid things I’ve said, thought or done.

  • helen

    When my grandaughter was being baptized we all thought we had told her older brother (3 1/2) everything about baptism. When it came time, I held him in my arms to see it all, while his Mom held the baby.
    He looked into the font, and in a voice heard to the last row of the little church said, “I didn’t know there was water in there!”

  • helen

    When my grandaughter was being baptized we all thought we had told her older brother (3 1/2) everything about baptism. When it came time, I held him in my arms to see it all, while his Mom held the baby.
    He looked into the font, and in a voice heard to the last row of the little church said, “I didn’t know there was water in there!”

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    “squat” team
    “oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse soap and sleigh”
    “Goethe” (had the pronunciation not even close)

    Yes.. I am hanging my head in shame…

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    “squat” team
    “oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse soap and sleigh”
    “Goethe” (had the pronunciation not even close)

    Yes.. I am hanging my head in shame…

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    My mother was Methodist and before I could be catechized in my father’s Catholic faith he died and I went to Methodist Church.

    I made it to 13-14 before I understood that Jesus was God (not just a demi-God child of the God the Father). It wasn’t until I was 18 and began to gravitate to Lutheranism (after being a lukewarm agnostic) that I understood that Jesus wasn’t an example of how to earn salvation but that he had actually earned it for us.

    My experiences in the Methodist Church make me worry whenever Lutherans try to be happy Protestants that smooth over the culturally uncomfortable aspects of Christianity.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    My mother was Methodist and before I could be catechized in my father’s Catholic faith he died and I went to Methodist Church.

    I made it to 13-14 before I understood that Jesus was God (not just a demi-God child of the God the Father). It wasn’t until I was 18 and began to gravitate to Lutheranism (after being a lukewarm agnostic) that I understood that Jesus wasn’t an example of how to earn salvation but that he had actually earned it for us.

    My experiences in the Methodist Church make me worry whenever Lutherans try to be happy Protestants that smooth over the culturally uncomfortable aspects of Christianity.

  • Cindy R.

    I did not know that roadrunners are fairly small birds. I thought they were similar in height to a coyote.

  • Cindy R.

    I did not know that roadrunners are fairly small birds. I thought they were similar in height to a coyote.

  • Booklover

    Hoo boy, these have made me laugh out loud.

    helen, I had a similar experience at the state spelling bee when I was in 8th grade. I was given the word “parfait.” I had never heard of it in my life. I hesitated for a long time, knew it sounded French, so guessed “p-a-r-f-e-t.”

    The next day my mom and I planted roses. We looked at the name: “Parfait Roses.”

  • Booklover

    Hoo boy, these have made me laugh out loud.

    helen, I had a similar experience at the state spelling bee when I was in 8th grade. I was given the word “parfait.” I had never heard of it in my life. I hesitated for a long time, knew it sounded French, so guessed “p-a-r-f-e-t.”

    The next day my mom and I planted roses. We looked at the name: “Parfait Roses.”

  • Orianna Laun

    They aren’t, Cindy (@43)? I suppose they don’t stick their tongues out at coyotes, nor do they say, “Meep, meep.”. :)
    Completely understandable. I had the impression they were the size of ostriches.

  • Orianna Laun

    They aren’t, Cindy (@43)? I suppose they don’t stick their tongues out at coyotes, nor do they say, “Meep, meep.”. :)
    Completely understandable. I had the impression they were the size of ostriches.

  • helen

    Booklover,
    I never heard of parfait roses. I looked them up; they’re beautiful.

    We get some interesting ideas from Sat. a.m. cartoons!

  • helen

    Booklover,
    I never heard of parfait roses. I looked them up; they’re beautiful.

    We get some interesting ideas from Sat. a.m. cartoons!

  • George A. Marquart

    The Gospel is a many-faceted jewel. It has absorbed me for much of my life. Not because I am such a good person, but, just the opposite, because without it there is no hope for me. It was only within the past year that it dawned on me: one of the facets of the Gospel is, “God expects nothing from us.”

    Before anyone starts tearing their garments and yelling “blasphemy”, think about if for a moment. God is Love, God is perfect Love. Perfect Love, the kind that “casteth out” fear, does not want anything for Itself, It only wants to give. Whatever may seem as if it were one of God’s demands is actually not for Him. He does not need it. It is all for our benefit. One way we know this is that when we fail to meet His demands, He forgives us. When we do good, He rejoices – not because He has received something, but because one of His children has accomplished something. Our Lord gave during His entire life, and ultimately on the cross, “for the joy that was held before Him.”

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    The Gospel is a many-faceted jewel. It has absorbed me for much of my life. Not because I am such a good person, but, just the opposite, because without it there is no hope for me. It was only within the past year that it dawned on me: one of the facets of the Gospel is, “God expects nothing from us.”

    Before anyone starts tearing their garments and yelling “blasphemy”, think about if for a moment. God is Love, God is perfect Love. Perfect Love, the kind that “casteth out” fear, does not want anything for Itself, It only wants to give. Whatever may seem as if it were one of God’s demands is actually not for Him. He does not need it. It is all for our benefit. One way we know this is that when we fail to meet His demands, He forgives us. When we do good, He rejoices – not because He has received something, but because one of His children has accomplished something. Our Lord gave during His entire life, and ultimately on the cross, “for the joy that was held before Him.”

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • Barry Arrington

    @Matthew@6. Sorry to spring this on you, but in certain areas of the country (like where I grew up) everyone refers to a horned toad as a horny toad.

  • Barry Arrington

    @Matthew@6. Sorry to spring this on you, but in certain areas of the country (like where I grew up) everyone refers to a horned toad as a horny toad.

  • Barry Arrington

    Daughter number 1 was singing Christmas carols when she was around 4. She sang “God and sinners wrecked-in-style.” The funny thing is that when I told her it was “reconciled,” Strong willed child that she is, she rejected my correction and continued to sing it the way it sounded good to her.

    When I was a kid singing “home, home on the range” I contemplated many times why the word “seldom” had such a distressing effect on the cowboys. “Seldom is heard [as] a discouraging word.” I don’t know why my head inserted that [as].

  • Barry Arrington

    Daughter number 1 was singing Christmas carols when she was around 4. She sang “God and sinners wrecked-in-style.” The funny thing is that when I told her it was “reconciled,” Strong willed child that she is, she rejected my correction and continued to sing it the way it sounded good to her.

    When I was a kid singing “home, home on the range” I contemplated many times why the word “seldom” had such a distressing effect on the cowboys. “Seldom is heard [as] a discouraging word.” I don’t know why my head inserted that [as].

  • Adrian Piazza

    Spoiler alert!

    I had a great interest in magic as a kid. I always thought my mom knew all the secrets because she bought the books for me. I found out when she was 68 years old: she thought the knife thrower was really throwing knives blindfolded at a the balloons with a woman spread eagle on the spinning wheel. She was amazed that he always popped the balloons and she never heard that anyone was hurt. I told her the trick and she was upset with me for a week. I always thought buildings had fay-cades until I was in college.

  • Adrian Piazza

    Spoiler alert!

    I had a great interest in magic as a kid. I always thought my mom knew all the secrets because she bought the books for me. I found out when she was 68 years old: she thought the knife thrower was really throwing knives blindfolded at a the balloons with a woman spread eagle on the spinning wheel. She was amazed that he always popped the balloons and she never heard that anyone was hurt. I told her the trick and she was upset with me for a week. I always thought buildings had fay-cades until I was in college.

  • http://www.caryschwarz.com saddler

    Matthew @ 6 …to say nothing of the great horned owl.

  • http://www.caryschwarz.com saddler

    Matthew @ 6 …to say nothing of the great horned owl.

  • LAJ

    Thank you for the entertaining comments. I know there were a few words in the service I put together mistakenly as a child, but I can’t remember any now. I could never figure out how long a fortnight was til a few years ago. I remember being confused as a child about the difference between a couple and a few.

  • LAJ

    Thank you for the entertaining comments. I know there were a few words in the service I put together mistakenly as a child, but I can’t remember any now. I could never figure out how long a fortnight was til a few years ago. I remember being confused as a child about the difference between a couple and a few.

  • Kelly

    This is for Jack @ #4… Until just a few short years ago, I had completely misinterpreted all three verses of “Silent Night.” I’d known the song and all the words since I was very small, and I must have carried over my assumptions into adulthood. Quite often, familiar Christmas songs like that are printed on bulletins and put up on screens without punctuation. I’ve learned my lesson: punctuation is EVERYTHING. I’d been hearing the song as somewhat disjointed sentence fragments when, in reality, they are full sentences. I only figured out the real meaning while typing up the verses, with proper punctuation.

    I’d heard: “Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. [Gather] round yon virgin, [both the] mother and child. [The] holy infant [is] so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace, etc.” What it really is: “Silent night, holy night! All is calm, all is bright round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace, etc.”

    The third verse is even more embarrassing. I’d heard: “Silent night, holy night. [The] Son of God [is] love’s pure light. Radiant beams [aka, bright shiny things, are emanating] from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace. Jesus, [you are] Lord [even] at thy birth, etc.” What it really is: “Silent night, holy night! Son of God, loves pure light radiantly beams [VERB!!] from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.”

    I was an English minor.

  • Kelly

    This is for Jack @ #4… Until just a few short years ago, I had completely misinterpreted all three verses of “Silent Night.” I’d known the song and all the words since I was very small, and I must have carried over my assumptions into adulthood. Quite often, familiar Christmas songs like that are printed on bulletins and put up on screens without punctuation. I’ve learned my lesson: punctuation is EVERYTHING. I’d been hearing the song as somewhat disjointed sentence fragments when, in reality, they are full sentences. I only figured out the real meaning while typing up the verses, with proper punctuation.

    I’d heard: “Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. [Gather] round yon virgin, [both the] mother and child. [The] holy infant [is] so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace, etc.” What it really is: “Silent night, holy night! All is calm, all is bright round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace, etc.”

    The third verse is even more embarrassing. I’d heard: “Silent night, holy night. [The] Son of God [is] love’s pure light. Radiant beams [aka, bright shiny things, are emanating] from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace. Jesus, [you are] Lord [even] at thy birth, etc.” What it really is: “Silent night, holy night! Son of God, loves pure light radiantly beams [VERB!!] from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.”

    I was an English minor.

  • Kelly

    Oops, minor corrections in that last part: “love’s” not “loves,” and put the “ly” of “radiantly” in brackets. ;o)

  • Kelly

    Oops, minor corrections in that last part: “love’s” not “loves,” and put the “ly” of “radiantly” in brackets. ;o)

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I only recently found out that the second line to Creed’s “Sacrifice” was not “It’s been a wild west show when”.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I only recently found out that the second line to Creed’s “Sacrifice” was not “It’s been a wild west show when”.

  • Barry Arrington

    It is fascinating that more than one person had issues with Silent Night. Like Jack @ 4, when I was very young I wondered about where Jesus was sleeping, but instead of “Heavenly Peas,” I heard “Heavenly Petes.” My best guess was that Heavenly Petes was a hotel somewhere.

  • Barry Arrington

    It is fascinating that more than one person had issues with Silent Night. Like Jack @ 4, when I was very young I wondered about where Jesus was sleeping, but instead of “Heavenly Peas,” I heard “Heavenly Petes.” My best guess was that Heavenly Petes was a hotel somewhere.

  • Timothy

    @33 & 35. Yup, Chester drawers. They also make couches.

    To my mom, “palate” was pronounced pal-lay.

    And in our family, we would sometimes (at least) use “brung” as a past tense for “bring”.

  • Timothy

    @33 & 35. Yup, Chester drawers. They also make couches.

    To my mom, “palate” was pronounced pal-lay.

    And in our family, we would sometimes (at least) use “brung” as a past tense for “bring”.

  • Rose

    Julian @8:
    Mill- does mean thousand.
    A millennium is a thousand years.
    A mile is 1000 paces of a Roman soldier.
    The year 2012 is MMXII.
    Unfortunately, a million means a thousand thousand.
    It’s confusing.

  • Rose

    Julian @8:
    Mill- does mean thousand.
    A millennium is a thousand years.
    A mile is 1000 paces of a Roman soldier.
    The year 2012 is MMXII.
    Unfortunately, a million means a thousand thousand.
    It’s confusing.

  • Sharon Philp

    I was in my thirties before I knew why Texas A&M was called such. I did not learn of Land Grant colleges until a course my husband took covered them and I learned about it by proofreading his paper.
    I was in college when a professor explained to us that nouns are not people, places, things, and ideas. Nouns are words that name them. I had never thought of that before, and I was irked by all the well-meaning teachers before who had taught me correctly, if not quite accurately. Since then I have tried to teach my students that nouns are words that name people, places, things and ideas. I would usually do this by holding up a stapler and ask if it was a noun. After the students said yes, I would say, no, it is a stapler. I would then write the word on the board and explain that the word represented the object and it was the word that was the noun. It may have been a bit over their heads, but I wanted them to discuss it accurately.

  • Sharon Philp

    I was in my thirties before I knew why Texas A&M was called such. I did not learn of Land Grant colleges until a course my husband took covered them and I learned about it by proofreading his paper.
    I was in college when a professor explained to us that nouns are not people, places, things, and ideas. Nouns are words that name them. I had never thought of that before, and I was irked by all the well-meaning teachers before who had taught me correctly, if not quite accurately. Since then I have tried to teach my students that nouns are words that name people, places, things and ideas. I would usually do this by holding up a stapler and ask if it was a noun. After the students said yes, I would say, no, it is a stapler. I would then write the word on the board and explain that the word represented the object and it was the word that was the noun. It may have been a bit over their heads, but I wanted them to discuss it accurately.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Paul T. McCain

    I learned a year or so ago that Highway Exit numbers were also mile numbers on the highway. So, if you know you have to get off at Exit 29 and you are at exit 19, you have ten miles to go.

    Go figure.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Paul T. McCain

    I learned a year or so ago that Highway Exit numbers were also mile numbers on the highway. So, if you know you have to get off at Exit 29 and you are at exit 19, you have ten miles to go.

    Go figure.

  • Hannah

    Wow, I want to say thank you to everyone who has posted comments. I’ve learned so much by reading through them.

  • Hannah

    Wow, I want to say thank you to everyone who has posted comments. I’ve learned so much by reading through them.

  • Momof3inTenn

    Paul McCain @60 – Not every state uses the mile marker system for exits. Some use a consecutive exit numbering system starting at the most southern or western point. The first exit is #1 and the number increases as the road goes north or east. All those years driving to Florida taught me that. The exits always threw me off, because the states surrounding Florida use the mile system. However, Florida changed to the mile system about 10 years ago. Now all the exit signs list the new number and also the old number.

  • Momof3inTenn

    Paul McCain @60 – Not every state uses the mile marker system for exits. Some use a consecutive exit numbering system starting at the most southern or western point. The first exit is #1 and the number increases as the road goes north or east. All those years driving to Florida taught me that. The exits always threw me off, because the states surrounding Florida use the mile system. However, Florida changed to the mile system about 10 years ago. Now all the exit signs list the new number and also the old number.

  • PinonCoffee

    @33 – Ahem. I was at a friend’s new house the other day and we were discussing where she planned to hang her art. Under THAT piece, along THAT wall, she was going to put her “Chester Frazier.”

    Her what? Chester Frazier. Not familiar with that artist?

    Chest. Freezer. With a drawl. :-)

  • PinonCoffee

    @33 – Ahem. I was at a friend’s new house the other day and we were discussing where she planned to hang her art. Under THAT piece, along THAT wall, she was going to put her “Chester Frazier.”

    Her what? Chester Frazier. Not familiar with that artist?

    Chest. Freezer. With a drawl. :-)


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