I’m a relatively lazy person. I think most people at their cores are lazy people. I suppose Type A personalities might be different (and as Becky pointed out, bless them for working so hard so everyone else can work a little LESS hard), but still, when presented with shortcuts or the opportunity to skim a little fat off the top? People will take it and run because why the fuck not.
One habit I got into that began to bother me was ‘blowing past things I heard that I didn’t understand and willfully choosing to remain ignorant instead of taking the time to look something up or ask’. I hang out with an incredibly intelligent group of people. If you listen to Lauren or Reuben talk for more than twenty minutes, they’re going to toss out a four or five syllable word and it’s going to make you blink and go ‘whaaaa?’. I do it to folks sometimes too, and it’s not because I want to make anyone feel stupid, it’s just . . . well. I love words. Lauren and Reuben are the same – they have a love affair with the language and it manifests in their daily communications with other people. Our vocabulary can (and does) terrorize at times.
(Aside: I’d apologize for using the 50 cent words but I wouldn’t mean it. I want a bigger vocabulary. I want a vocabulary so big that when I unzip you can’t help but be bedazzled by my verbose dong. Frightening image? You’re welcome.)
Back to the point of the post. Up until maybe maybe a couple months ago, I’d hear a foreign word or sentiment and I’d try to figure it out through context of the other words around it. Sometimes, depending on the conversation, that’d work. Other times? Yeah, not so much. So I’d go on my merry way, content to be lazy and dimwitted, all the while crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t encounter anything else that’d make me feel lower on the food chain than my gigantically brained friends. Of course the logical solution would have just been to say to said friends HEY FUCKOS, WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY AND WHAT’S IT MEAN. Sadly, there’s an insecure little girl inside of Hillary squealing “Don’t ask these people you adore what that word means, because you want to look like you’re just as smart as they are and admitting that a word isn’t on your radar is expressing weakness and stupidity!” I would like to choke this insecure little girl, because the lovely part about my friends – the very reason these people ARE my friends – is because they don’t judge. Sound logic doesn’t negate the panic of being outed as less smart than everyone else, though, so I made a promise to myself. If I stumble across a word or reference I don’t know and don’t have the gonads to flat out ask about? I’ll look it up later. I’ll mentally table it and address it so I don’t stay dumb.
For example, the title of this blog. I’ve been a chatty wenchling about the awesomeness that was the first two seasons of Californication. It’s the type of fast, witty writing I adore. The last time I encountered something so snappy and quick was West Wing back in the day (even though Aaron Sorkin admits now to writing the entirety of that series while doped up on cocaine and sniffing lines off of Vegas hookers’ asses. But hey, those habits produced some amazing dialogue, Aaron. Hopefully straightening out and dropping the nose candy doesn’t kill your mojo). It was the kind of stuff I wished -I’d- written, and I don’t say that about a lot.
There’s a scene in Californication season one where the main character, Hank, has started a blog, and he addresses everyone as ‘My Little Lotus Eaters’. I never thought about it much until I rewatched the season just a couple months back, and that particular line zinged me. There was clearly something there that I didn’t understand, so I did some TOTALLY LEGIT INTERWEBS RESEARCH (hai Wikipedia), and found out that the Lotus-Eaters are a Greek mythology thing. Score! I love Greek myths. Apparently they were residents of an island who ate so many lotus fruits they grew sleepy and apathetic to everything in life. Mention of the lotus-eaters pops up in the tale of Odysseus, whose men dock at Lotus Island to restock their supplies after nine days at sea. The sailors begin to eat the lotus fruits, and grow utterly listless regarding their returns home. Odysseus drags their drugged-up asses back to the ship and gets them out of there pronto so they don’t fall into a Purple Haze.
You’ll also find mentions of lotus-eaters in Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poetry and James Joyce’s Ulysses.
I thought it was kind of apropos that my first venture into ‘looking up shit I didn’t understand’ resulted in the lotus-eaters thing. I mean, up until that point I was sorta acting that way about my ignorance. “WHO CARES IF I’M NOT IN THE KNOW ABOUT STUFF. I KNOW OTHER STUFF. IT’S COOL, RIGHT?” No. No it’s not cool. So now I like to think I’ve changed it up, that I do my due diligence and fill in the blanks. I challenge everyone to stop being lotus-eaters and to start using that big pile of pulsating brain matter in your skulls, too. You never know what you’ll stumble across, and when and how that new knowledge will behoove you.