An Error Carried Forward...
My father was quite a character -- the Brits would
describe him as a "one off" -- and I suppose in the fullness of time I will
have to ejaculate a sizeable chunk of wordage to deal with my memories of him.
For, paraphrasing a line from the great movie Magnolia: "You may think that
you're done with the past, but the past is not yet done with you…"
If I tally up my father's pluses and minuses, I reckon the slate would balance
precariously on its edge. So if I recount one of his failures here, it's not
because I wish to bias that slate in any particular starting angle. In his
life, my Old Man had a remarkable talent for arighting himself from fairly
steep inclinations in either the positive or negative directions. Much like
one of those circus clowns with the huge shoes.
Shoes form the segue here. For the fact is, when I was a small lad, my father
taught me to tie my shoelaces -- incorrectly. It was not until I was 27
years of age that a co-worker alerted me of this major personal shortcoming.
In point of fact, my old man had taught me to tie a "Granny" knot in my laces,
instead of a "Square" knot.
Now, functionally speaking, a Granny knot does serve to keep the laces
reasonably tight. However, the unfortunate shortcoming of the Granny knot is
that the lace loops end up askew and want to align themselves parallel to the
tongue of the shoe. A Square knot keeps those loops nice and perpendicular to
the shoe like they ought to be. In pointing this out, my work colleague
gleefully counted more coup at my expense than I thought the
occasion deserved. In my ensuing state of utter mortification, I put him on my
List and he remains there to this day. And once you get on my List, you can't
get off it...
Notwithstanding the fact that as an older child I eventually did learn, in
Troop 29 of the Boy Scouts, how to tie a perfectly good Square knot, it never
dawned on me that the application of that knot extended to shoelaces
specifically. I thought Square knots were confined to use on sailing ships,
tent rigging, and such. I was even rather proud of my ability to tie one --
since I couldn't master any of the dozens of other knot types that have been
invented by crusty old Salts throughout the millennia. Except of course the
aforementioned Granny knot.
And so it is with most of the formal training and education we receive -- they
never tell you where those pieces fit. Unfortunately, the proper application
of knowledge only comes after some rather hard knocking against the world at
large. I sorely wish it were otherwise.
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