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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 ever 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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