What’s The Big Idea – Am I Dumb Or Something?

LinaLemontBombayTitle quote courtesy of Lina Lamont, Singing In The Rain

What’s the use of being smart when life has a nasty habit of making you look dumb?

I got good grades in school. The other kids called me teacher’s pet because they were jealous of my truly impressive collection of gold stars. I’m not bragging, merely explaining why I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent. And yet…

I can’t spell “occasion.” 1c, 2s’s? 2c’s, 1s? 2c’s and the s’s can go jump in the lake? If spell check isn’t handy, I have to change the word to “event.” It’s the same with “dessert” vs “desert.” I know the memory trick that “strawberry shortcake” and “dessert” both have 2 s’s, but I play mind games with myself – how about “sandy Sahara?”  Then I’m lost again.

I can’t say “subsistence.” I like to watch those TV shows about people living off the land in remote places like Alaska. If I’m at a party and we’re talking about the morality of clubbing a baby seal if the alternative is starving to death, my first attempt at this word is “SUB-sti-dence.” Next I go with “sub-SIDE-dunce.”   Then comes “SUB-stance.”   By the time I’ve fumbled my fourth attempt, whoever I was trying to impress with the big word has already sneaked away to find another drink.

I don’t know when to use “whom” vs “who.” I’ve lost the will to even try with this anymore. Luckily my hubby, Bill, has serious English grammar chops. I go straight to him for a ruling instead of worrying my pretty, little head about it.

I don’t know my parents’ address. I’m pretty sure the street name is Stoney Creek, but I don’t know if that’s a Rd, St, Lane or Rte. The number is anyone’s guess. Given that they moved there 8 years ago, you might expect me to know this by now, but I blame them.   They’re the ones who abandoned my ancestral home.

I am clueless with geography. I’m confident I can name the states immediately bordering Illinois in roughly the proper order, but anything beyond that is beyond me.

I have a friend who moved to Guinea almost a year ago, and I still can’t figure out where that is. The smarty pants among you may be asking, “Which Guinea?” Exactly. It turns out there are scores of places with variations on this name scattered all over the globe. There are something like 10 of them in Africa alone! I always refer to her new home as “down there.”

I was pretty good at geography in school, so this is clearly not my fault. I blame all the countries that have sprung up, merged or irresponsibly changed their names since I memorized them in grade school. Back then, when asked to identify a country you could guess “USSR” and have a 50/50 chance of getting it right.

I’m comforted by the thought that I’m not alone in this. I have a friend who can’t grasp Sudoku puzzles, no matter how many times the concept has been explained to her. I bet everyone has at least one knowledge blind spot.

To be honest, I have a few more little problem areas besides these.   I’d be glad to list them all if anybody is interested – it will only take the next 283 blog posts.




About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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72 Responses to What’s The Big Idea – Am I Dumb Or Something?

  1. I can so relate to this–I am a fairly well educated woman yet I have gaps in my knowledge that are as big as the Grand Canyon–and there are many a word I cannot pronounce–try meteorogically


  2. weebluebirdie says:

    I have aural numeral dyslexia – which is a fancy way of saying you’ll have to tell me your phone number several times! I can’t pronounce ‘subliminally’. I also have to stop for a think about spelling occasion, accommodation, embarrassment and commitment. I’ve given up on ‘whom’ – too many funny looks from those who haven’t even heard of the word. Geography isn’t a strength either – I was extremely perplexed to learn the West Highland Way does not run westwards from say Pitlochry to Oban. It runs north out of Glasgow! Admittedly, this is the western section of the Highlands, but even so…


  3. Would it surprise you to know that I always have dictionary.com open whenever I write a post because I can’t spell at all? And sometimes it’s simple words like ‘weird’? No? That doesn’t shock you? Not even a tiny bit? Fine.

    P.S. you never have to try to impress me, Peg-o-FP-Queen-o


  4. Elyse says:

    Actually, I think we’re all becoming Linas, Peg. (Thanks for bringing back one of my favorite sayings from one of my favorite movies — she was brilliant in that part.)

    It really is a challenge knowing stuff — and keeping track of what you don’t know. I don’t remember phone numbers at all, so if there is a nuclear explosion I am totally screwed. I can’t keep desert and dessert straight either, but thanks for the pneumonic.

    When I worked at the WHO in Europe, the called countries and cities by the regional pronunciation. Hence Bombay became Mumbai, etc. etc. I moved back here and work with a woman who was born there, and who is ethnically Indian. She calls it “Bombay.”

    So I think we can all give up and go Sing in the Rain.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Numbers drive me crazy. That’s why I never score high on those IQ quizzes online. They are full of tricky problems you have to solve like how fast the train is going south when the west wind blows at whatever km per hour and the nearest station is whatever miles and carrying certain amount of passengers with this number of females, males, family and children and the numbers are coupled with letters of alphabets.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lynn Love says:

    Is it because we all rely on phones / Google / spell check etc to remember things for us? None of us need to remember anything or learn anything ever again, thanks to the net.
    I can’t spell any of those words either. That’s why all my posts are writtne in Word then copied and pasted. Saves some embarrassment. (Hang on – did I get that right? 🙂 )


    • pegoleg says:

      I do the same thing. My dinosaur computer at home only has Wordpad or some such nonsense and there’s no spell check. I have to bring pieces to my office and have them Word-scrubbed or it would kill my carefully crafted illusion that I am semi-literate.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Carrie Rubin says:

    You are definitely not alone. I’m always getting the ‘e’ and ‘i’ mixed up in ‘caffeine.’ Thank goodness for spell check on that one. And ‘heal’ vs ‘heel.’ You’d think given my professional training, I wouldn’t struggle with this one. You’d be wrong.


  8. For the life of me, I cannot ever understand “Affect” and “Effect.” Intellectually I understand their differences, burt when I’m writing my mind completely blanks out. I end up writing “Impact,” which I just read is verboten usage among the Supreme Court justices.


  9. franhunne4u says:

    Of course you are not alone. I have my problem with names. The face is in my head but what was the name going along with that? And I am of average intelligence (IQ not below room temperature).


  10. Blogdramedy says:

    I don’t care if you spell correctly. I think you’re FabWow just the way you are.


    You spell it this way…capital B, l, o, g… *smile*

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, I hear you Peg!! I can no longer write without the auto correct and auto spell check feature to keep me on my toes. When I handwrite, like on greeting cards, I often have to check the spelling on my phone or computer because I don’t trust myself. How sad is that???? AY!!


  12. Dana says:

    Well, I remember that Jenny’s number is 867-5309, but I can’t find Czechoslovakia on a map! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  13. cliff445 says:

    I would say the condition is wide spread, these days, Peg. 🙂
    I used to know stuff, but now I don’t need to anymore, my dear friends, Google, Spell-check, Dictionary.com and Wikipedia, handle all of that for me. I have more important things to contend with, like, Where did I put my keys, after I just relocated them for the twenty-first time today?
    Pretty sad eh? 😉


  14. k8edid says:

    My students see no need for committing anything to memory. ANYTHING. One day we will all receive care based on whatever Google says we need. I pray my nurse (or doctor) can spell vasodilator or I may end up with a vasectomy…


  15. mary says:

    My little secret is I have the Word Book at my computer and my desk. I’m always looking up words that I’m not sure how to spell.


  16. Yep. I have a bunch of spelling gremlins too. But desert and dessert seems to be an easy one for me. I always want more dessert, so it gets more s’s. Can’t tell you the number of times I do an online search that starts “Spell….” I love Sudoku puzzles, but half the time I’m not sure if it’s Soduku or what. Just don’t ask me to play chess. I get too hung up on each and every move and drive myself nuts. One thing I am very happy about is my 12 year old son, who has dyslexia and has a devil of a time with spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. actually knows when to use they’re their, and there. Thank goodness.


    • pegoleg says:

      That’s a personal hangup of mine, so I’m also pleased he knows which “there” to use. Having said that, often when I look back before hitting send or print on a document, I will be astonished and chagrined to discover my flying fingers used the wrong version.

      Always, always proofread!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Barb says:

    Instead of reading most of those “assigned classics”, I used the Cliff Notes… and thought I was pretty smart for doing so. Then life happened and I’ve had to go back and pick up the classics just to know what literary-smart people were talking about. Learning is a lifelong process (I keep telling myself—especially when I get to relearn the same thing twice.) Good post.


    • pegoleg says:

      Me too, Barb. With so many of the classics I either never really read them, or read them through but can’t remember them now. Maybe I should have saved myself the initial trouble.


  18. Dana says:

    Also, Istanbul was Constantinople, now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople. Been a long time gone, Constantinople…


  19. You know what you are, don’t you? I hate to be the one to say it. I thought someone would have pointed this out to you already but apparently, nobody has. So here it comes. Ready?




    Congrats. Welcome to the human race.

    “Singing in the Rain”…you’re most unlikely tag.


  20. Mary Richart says:

    When there are socks in the basement to be put away, I can’t seem to get Mary Kay or Terry or little Peggy or Billy or Patrick or Carolyn or Jimmy or Libby or Precious Judy, to put ’em away!

    Love, Mom


    • pegoleg says:

      Mom! How did you get here??? I’m delighted to see you on my blog.

      Ah yes, I remember well the joys of bringing laundry up from the cavernous dungeon where you spent so much of your time. I’d have to say, though, that that ship sailed long ago since the kids, the socks and even the basement are now gone. If you need any socks, just let me know and I’ll buy you some new ones.


  21. Al says:

    The good news? You’ll be speaking Spanish in a few years anyway.


  22. I had a geography class in high school. We had an exam to list all the states and capitals. He kept testing us every week until every student scored 100%. We took that exam over and over for months. These days I’m sure that would be considered harassment.


  23. Little Voice says:

    You’ve reached a reader who didn’t know where Africa was on the map in college. Dumb? Oh, I blame all those notes I passed in class. Who thought I would need information about the world outside of my hometown of 6,000?


  24. Don’t worry Peg, I haven’t known my Left from my Right in twenty-three years. It doesn’t make you dumb, it just means your brain is so full of important stuff you have purged the stuff that isn’t important.


  25. lexiemom says:

    Since I’ve never actually heard you speak, I don’t know if you are dumb. You type well, and so that will have to suffice. But just because you may be dumb, it doesn’t mean you aren’t smart. We all have our talents, and frankly, I’m pretty sure my husband would like it if I were a little more dumb.


  26. Sandy Sue says:

    I loved this, Peg. The ways we could be dumb are endless, but nothing compares to Donald Trump being the GOP front-runner.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Phew. I’m so glad someone else confuses who vs. whom. I was an English major and I still don’t get it. Embarrassing.


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