Uncommon Sense

Sorry, Ollie, I'll do better the next time...

“For such a smart girl, you have no common sense,” my mother told me repeatedly.

I began botching up even simple tasks early in life. Mom was a single parent. My older sister was deathly ill and garnered most of Mom’s attention. My younger sister needed her constant
supervision. I was eager to please and robust—Mom’s dependable girl. She was misguided to assume that “agreeable and healthy” meant “capable.” 

I could find my way to the corner market but the return trip confused me. I’d go to the store each week with firm faith that I could find my way back home. After I’d been gone too long, the Reconnaissance Team of Little Lisa and Mommy would find me teary-eyed and the paper grocery sack crushed to my chest—my security blanket. One time I made it home with the help of an old stubble-faced man who smelled of cigarettes and beer. He held my hand, winked at me profusely, and called me “Blondie” even though I told him my full name. When he led me to my house, he kissed me on the cheek. Mom sternly lectured me about trusting strange drunk men and giving out our address.

Lisa and I took baths together. Once, when I was seven, Mom asked me to take charge of getting us both naked and into the tub. It was a small but important job. I was a jumble of emotions: honored, anxious, and giddy. Stepping into the tub, I noticed my underpants were still on. Panic set it. I felt that I had stepped into quick-drying cement and was stuck there, the pink cotton evidence of my incompetence covering my butt. I never even noticed that had Lisa jumped into the tub with her socks on.

As we became teenagers, meals were our responsibility because Mom was at work. One night I prepared dinner: frozen potpies.  I heated them up in the oven on a tray so that, if they  bubbled over, the oven wouldn’t get messy.  I found a nice round tray perfect for the
job.  I carefully placed the four potpies on the tray and in the 400-degree oven. The potpies came out perfectly. The tray didn’t.  It was a collector Beatles tray with close-ups of John, Paul, George, and Ringo painted on the surface.  I purposefully put one potpie over each face.  When I pulled out the tray from the oven, the “Fab Four” looked like victims of chemical warfare—crinkled blackened bubbled remains of their former superstar selves. After that, I didn’t cook much.

Common sense eluded me well after youth or erratic teen hormones could be blamed for my mishaps. In the realms of the mind and heart, I’m the one you want on your team. Leave me on the bench, however, when dealing with inanimate objects or on-the-spot decision-making.

Common sense is important—it can save lives, heartache, and Beatles memorabilia. But  what about something special and underappreciated among pragmatists and survivalists:  uncommon sense? I have that. I just have to figure out how to minimize the inevitable collateral damage.

~ by Lorna's Voice on June 11, 2011.

25 Responses to “Uncommon Sense”

  1. […] Department, I was running dead-last. Except for the occasional…frequent…predictable Common Sense Deficit Disorder flare-up (a disease that still hasn’t been adequately diagnosed or even recognized by any […]

  2. […] another example Book-Smart Lorna having absolutely no common sense. I am blessed/cursed with an uncommon sense in which rationality doesn’t just take a back seat, it’s not even in the […]

  3. Hey, thanks for the comment. All my stories are true–it’s a wonder I made through childhood!

  4. Hahaha, you write so well!! And such a cute story, love it 🙂

  5. I really enjoyed this post!

  6. Yes, I wouldn’t take a “do over” if it was offered to me on anything that has happened. We all turned out great and special in our own ways, at least in part, because of the crazy stuff we went through.

  7. The experiences of our youth have shaped us into the very special people we are today. You turned out great.

  8. Wonderful! If I can brighten someone’s day, I feel like I’ve done something worthwhile (important for someone who retired before her time). Thanks for taking the time to let me know that my writing and blog is something worth doing.

  9. I really appreciate the positive feedback! As a new creative writer and blogger, comments like yours motivate me more than you know. Good luck with the elder care issues. Your uncommon sense will come in very handy!

  10. I love your blog Lorna, so glad I ‘discovered’ it!
    I am now taking care of my elderly father who is still convinced that I have no common sense. Thankfully he did not raise me, so as a child when I did my own thing my mom would gently guide me. Now as a 54 year old woman I am often told by my father that I’m doing most everything wrong.
    Happily, I have come to realize that my father is the one with the problem, not me.
    I make my way through life just fine, thank you! We all march to the beat of our own drum, thankfully. Uncommon sense: love it!

  11. oh my hat! hysterical! I haven’t laughed so much in a very long time. Thank you Lorna

  12. Glad you liked this story. Lots more where this one came from. Hope you feel better!

  13. Now you can turn it around and talk about your uncommon sense in various situations–something most people don’t have and wouldn’t understand. We’re the people who have neither the “fight” or “flight” response. We have the “Freeze” response! Pausing is underappreciated, don’t you think?

  14. Thanks for seeing through my self-deprecating humor to notice that I was given loads of responsibility as a little kid. My mom had no choice.

  15. I can really relate to this post. People always say of me: She’s gotta lotta book smarts, but no common sense.

    Still to this day, I pause long and hard during job intereviews. Should I just come out with it that my greatest weakness is I have no common sense? 🙂

  16. I loved this blog post, Lorna! Despite my cold and aching head, you made me laugh and remember the oh so responsible little girl I was helping my mom with my 3 small brothers. Yeah, we had a dad but he was more gone with 2 jobs to support us all.
    Thanks for adding a bright spot to a day.

  17. The fact that you did so well as a little one tells me volumes about you. I teach grown people who can’t manage what you did when you were still a little girl!

  18. For all of us who bumble through life, we appreciate your kindness!

  19. Thanks so much for the validation–of both my writing and of the common experience of being, as you say, the United Nations of the family. Yes, I have many uncommonly stellar qualities, but the goofy ones are more fun to write about! Thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to comment on this post!

  20. I remember something like that happening, too–but my older sister was at the helm. It’s a wonder we survived childhood! Thanks for your comment!

  21. When we were kids, our stove was gas, not electric. One time I turned the gas on in the oven, but didn’t get the match lit fast enough. Whoosh – Singed hair on my arms. After that, mom didn’t leave me lunch things that had to be heated up…

  22. Great post. I too probably have more than my share of ‘uncommon’ sense…and I have a feeling I’m too old to change that now…
    I’m sure you have many other wonderful qualities about you that make up for any perceived inadequacies you think you have. I too am a ‘middle child’, and have always been the “United Nations” of the family…I think this is a role that falls to many middle kids. While the oldest kid is special because he/she came first and the last child is special because he/she is the baby, the middle child struggles to find a place in the family dynamics. Makes the world go round, I guess.
    Keep up the good work.

  23. I have a niece just like you. I promise to be nicer to her in future lol 😛

  24. Oh, so there is someone else out there with an uncommon sense? Fabulous to know I’m not alone!

  25. I quite agree:)

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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