Sunday, July 29, 2012

I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

I overheard one of the older ladies at my office taking down an email address over the phone a while ago. She did the best she could with her existing knowledge base.

It reminded me of many, many conversations in which my brother and I were operating in entirely separate universes of understanding.

In middle school, I considered myself to be exceptionally brilliant at interpreting these communication disconnects. As proof of my powers, I pointed to my own masterful understanding of an incident that unfolded in my 6th grade World History class.

Our textbook included little historical fiction introductions to each section as a way to bring students into the moment.

When we got to the chapter on European feudalism, the introduction detailed a ceremony in which a medieval landholder granted a fief to an underling:
“I will be faithful to you and defend you, the kneeling vassal declared. The lord then placed a clod of earth in the man’s hand. The earth symbolized the vassal’s right to use this land in exchange for his service to the lord.
This story did not help my classmate Annabelle dive into the 12th century. One word in particular tripped her up.

Our history teacher did not pick up on Annabelle’s concerns about the separation of church and state in our classroom. Instead, he gave her a helpful and informative explanation of the historical structures involved.

Personally, I couldn’t wait until we took geometry.

Extra Credit: Email address it would be really annoying to give out over the phone (from McSweeneys) 


  1. haha, so, what is a thanstra?

    1. At various times, any and all of those things--except possibly vitamins.