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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Why Didn't I Know That?

Have you ever wondered how you could have lived so long without knowing something that other people have known all their lives?

I was reading a book today and came across a sentence about foils and epees. Even a month ago I wouldn't have really known what it was talking about, other than having something to do with fencing. But after meeting someone who actually fenced and used an epee, I now have a passing knowledge of it. There are other things I managed to live most of my life without knowing anything about.

Part of the reason I never experienced some things was from growing up in a small town with very little diversity. A town smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt where most people went to a Christian church on Sunday. Those who didn't go to church just stayed inside until after noon so as to keep that fact from being circulated around town. There were folks who went to church to keep up appearances or to further their political career, but that's another story. There were no lawns being mowed on Sunday morning, no jogging in the park or sidewalks, and no shopping. Well, no shopping because of the Blue Laws, and there were no convenience stores in town when I was young though they did come before I left. There were neighborhood grocery stores along with the one big chain store, but none of those were open on Sunday. Gas stations weren't open on Sunday either.

We had television, but back then, it was tightly regulated, at least the three channels we got. We had radio, but most could only pick up our local AM station and maybe a few others from local towns. So most of our national exposure came from movies and magazines. At the movie theater, there was always a newsreel before the cartoon, which was before the movie. None of this commercial stuff they have now. The newsreel was usually about some event happening in the world.

Growing up in a quiet, little town was nice and safe, but it wasn't Mayberry. When I entered junior high, there were no organized sports for girls, and only basketball and football for boys. In high school, boys added track and field, tennis, golf, swim, and baseball to their options, and girls had tennis, swim, and volleyball. When I was a senior, Title IX came along and girls were offered track and field and basketball. Because it was a small town, filling those teams took every available player and every spare cent, and there were no extras for sports such as soccer, lacrosse, fencing, softball, or hockey. Years later, when Hubby and I moved to the city, we saw children playing this new sport, soccer, only to find out that there were many people our age who played it as a child too.

When I was in sixth grade, a friend and I were selling something door to door, and a lady came to the door in an altered state of mind. Looking back on it, she was probably tipping the bottle, but neither of us had ever seen anyone inebriated before. We ran to my friend's mother's car right after and my friend announced to her mother that the woman was on LSD. It was my first time to hear of LSD, and not wanting my ignorance to show, I didn't ask what it was, and then forgot to ask my mother later. It was years later before I finally found out what it was. My friend had brothers who were ten to fifteen years older than she, so she was more worldly than I. Our little town probably had bars though I had never seen one. They were probably in some part of town that my parents took care to never drive through with me. I had also never seen a pawn shop until I went to college. I'd seen them on tv and was quite disappointed to see that it looked quite normal and not the haven for thieves depicted on tv.

A few years ago I came across a symbol on a headstone I didn't recognize, and when I asked about it, I was told - with some derision - that I should know it was the Star of David. Growing up in my small town, and the small towns afterward, I never saw the Star of David, or if I did, it wasn't displayed significantly enough for me to wonder about. Our little town had no churches other than Christian Churches, and where some of those were a little extreme for my parents, they were still Christian churches. Most of my friends were Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, or Catholic, and except for the Methodists and Catholics, most were from fairly straight-laced families. (The Methodists had dances AT THE CHURCH!) I wasn't allowed to wear shorts in public, except to play tennis, but a friend wasn't even allowed to wear shorts in her own front yard. When I was a senior in high school, my parents became preoccupied with my brother and loosened their grip on my leash, and believe me, I took advantage. But that's another story too.

Growing up, I never thought I was missing out on anything except fun, but finally moving to a large city, I could see how much more other people my age experienced. A lot of that exposure wasn't good though. It made them more sophisticated than me, but it also made them jaded and cynical at an early age. At least I was middle aged before becoming so cynical.

Until next time, may you have blessings and enlightenment,

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