Confessions Of a Secret Dummy

Or all the things I’ve never read, watched, or understood, but apparently should have.
Publish date:
December 8, 2013
movies, books, secret dummy, reading, TV, art, smart

Look, everyone, another holiday season! It is that time of year when urbane young professionals splurge on gold or red dresses, drink cocktails with cinnamon and spicy shit in them, get coerced into buying gifts for colleagues they hate, and remark casually at parties on the issues of our day with nods to major reference points in culture, past and present:

  • “Dude, my professor went straight-up Mr. Brocklehurst when my thesis proposal was late.”
  • “Dave taxidermied his dead hedgehog and put it in formaldehyde and suddenly he thinks he’s Damien Hirst.”
  • “They discontinued my favorite lip color. I haven’t cried that hard since Rhett shot the horse that killed his kid!”
  • And finally, because I HAVE to, not because I WANT to: "She is SUCH a Samantha.”

If you are like me (and I hope you are because I’m pretty fab), you laugh and nod approvingly at these references even when on the inside you’re like, “Oh right, I forgot. I’m a secret street urchin with huge gaps in knowledge of pop culture, classic film, literature, and art. Better hide my university diploma in the floorboards, lest the administrator catch word of my utter failure to not be hella basic in the smarts department.” Below are what I believe to be my most critical gaps in knowledge that I'm supposed to have. It’s like Never-Have-I-Ever with culturally important pieces instead of sex stuff! A fun holiday party game where everybody reveals that they too, have been faking all that smart stuff. I’ll go first. LITERATUREThis one is the most painful because in lots of circles, not being well-read means that you deserve to be lit on fire and have your corpse fed to rabid coyotes. But I laugh in the face of danger, so I can tell you that I have not read a single word by Jane Austen. I mean, I haven’t even read an inspiring quote from her in a tasteful English font on Pinterest. That is how successfully I have avoided Jane Austen. To my understanding, there are a lot of arranged-but-not-arranged marriages and even the poor people have very wise maids. Charles Dickens is almost in the same boat, except I read the first three chapters of A Tale of Two Cities as a senior in high school but decided that smoking and listening to “Champagne Supernova” on repeat was a better use of my precious 17-year-old time. Now, if you give me something by those bonkers Bronte sisters, I am going to be ALL. OVER. IT. THOSE THINGS I STUDIEDI got a BA in History and it was fine, but then I decided it was a good idea to get an MA in Religion. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t. But anyway, people are always referencing apparently important theologians and moments in church history and I frequently have NO IDEA what they are talking about and feel super-stupid about it. Truth talk: Undergraduates are usually drunk, on Twitter, or drunk on Twitter so they don’t know as much about their majors as they probably should, and Master’s programs are only two years long, which is not enough time to MASTER anything, really. Plus, most of that time is spent hand-wringing over whether the cost will be worth it when you graduate. Or so I’m told. The books I do read about religion I swiped from my conspiracy theorist grandmother, like Bad Girls of the Bible and my personal favorite, Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth, pictured below. Somewhere at Yale Divinity School, a PR person is weeping. FILMThis list is long, but the ones that get the most audible gasps are the fact that I’ve never seen the original Star Wars movies or It’s a Wonderful Life. On the former, I’ve heard about it enough to believe the plot is as follows: a young space farmer is teleported to a spaceship, makes friends with robots and a young Harrison Ford, and has to save a princess in a gold bikini from a monster made of boogers. At some point, living teddy bears in boho-chic hoodies ride mopeds through the woods and someone’s asshole dad dies from emphysema. I get it, it sounds like the greatest story ever put on film, but I just haven’t sat down for it yet because I’m binge-watching Scandanavian crime shows. I haven’t seen It’s a Wonderful Life because I don’t like the way Jimmy Stewart talks. I saw the Beavis and Butthead Christmas Special that follows the same plot, so I think I’m solid on what the story is about. This reminds me that I need to rewatch every episode of "Beavis and Butthead" ever made. TVHas anyone else been harassed relentlessly for not having seen "The Wire" and not really planning to watch "The Wire"? Like, I was actually yelled at because I don’t want to watch “the most intelligent dramatic series of our generation” or whatever people call it. I watched a handful of YouTube clips and was like, “Pass.” Besides, everyone knows that the best way to understand crime is not to uncover the deeply flawed bureaucracies running various law enforcement and city agencies. The best way to understand crime is to know that the killer is ALWAYS the parent that seemed MORE concerned at the beginning of the hour. Also, if Luke Perry or Josh Charles is the guest star, they absolutely did it. Additionally, I can’t afford HBO but refuse to engage in the rampant criminal enterprise of password-sharing. ARTYou know that crotchety old man at the museum looking at modern art hissing, “I used more creativity to move my bowels this morning than this painter did to make this trash. Pass me my billfold, Helen, I’m going to buy some Renoir postcards with REAL art on them.” I am not that man entirely, but I feel his pain. I don’t understand or follow art in any way that is substantive or meaningful, though I do respect artists tremendously. I just can’t wrap my head around it. I like art that features deformity, dismemberment, and various hellscapes but beyond that, I can’t tell what is good and what is crap. I mean, I want to stare at Marina Abromovic in the eyes for hours on end until I collapse into a weeping mess like anybody else does, but I want to do it cause she’s a babe with great dresses, not because I get the art part. So, it’s your turn. Never seen a Hitchcock movie? Can’t recall a single thing Socrates thought? Don’t know what a Samantha is? Spill it in the comments.