Does anybody know what time it is? Depends on when you ask

01/07/2014 12:00 AM

01/07/2014 5:51 PM

Do you ever feel dumb? I do. Not literally dumb, but every now and then, I feel like my brain has run up to a hurdle and then opted not to jump. Instead, it drops and shimmies gracelessly under the hurdle, or strolls awkwardly around the side. At its worst, it tries to jump, but falls flat on its face.

For instance, on New Year’s Eve, I did not know that the time difference between Kansas City and New York is one hour. I thought it was two hours. All day, I believed that when my parents let my kids watch the ball drop in Times Square, it would be 10 p.m.

Are you thinking I’m a hare-brain? You’re not the only one, I’m sure. My husband and I attended a party that evening where I explained, to a room full of people I barely knew, that our kids would be celebrating at 10 p.m., when the ball dropped in New York. One of the men said something about 11 p.m., not necessarily correcting me, just getting the accurate information out there. Again, I said 10 p.m. Not arguing, just reiterating what I, for that short period of time, believed to be true.

Why did my brain glom onto an erroneous fact that evening? I know good and well, and have known pretty much all my life, that there is no extra time zone sandwiched between Central and Eastern time zones. In fact, I lived on the East Coast for two years and never once made that mistake. Perhaps it was a guilt-induced delusion and I felt better believing that my parents would only have to stay up until 10 p.m.

Later in the evening, one of the hosts and I were chatting.

“Sometimes you sound so ditzy,” he laughed heartily. “The things you say … I know you’re smart, but then something slips out of your mouth that just makes me laugh.”

He frequently giggles about a particular trip up I made 20 years ago. He was my boss at the time, and we shared an office. The owner of the company brought a tour of clients through our office where I was doing graphic production work.

“Emily, explain what you’re doing,” the owner asked me, undoubtedly wanting to impress the clients.

My mind raced to find the explanation that would best describe my task. The proper answer should have included that I was utilizing cutting edge graphic software, using Bezier curves to create digital vector art that would be later screenprinted on fabric to make patterns. This is not how I answered.

“I’m drawing lines,” I said. Then mortified by my verbal ineptitude, I went back to work.

The owner never asked me to explain anything to a customer again. Who knows what he was thinking. Maybe words like ditz, or moron, and most likely, “Now we know she’s not good with words.”

I don’t claim to be an intellectual genius. Every now and then when my brain functions particularly well, I may joke that I’m “powerful brainy,” but I’m satisfied with “smart enough.”

I’m thankful for my friend poking fun at me about my airhead moments. It indicates that while I may seem to be a space cadet at times, he doesn’t believe I really am. He recognizes them as momentary, laughable, temporary suspensions of intelligence. In fact, he went as far as to call it “charming.”

Whether or not his guests, who only knew me a short period of time during which my brain struggled with U.S. time zones, were charmed, I do not know. But it’s reassuring that someone who has known me for 20 years categorizes me on the smart side of dumb.

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