A lament for lost ignorance


“I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone.”Oscar Wilde 

My parents have been married for 50 years and are getting on a bit; it doesn’t take much now to knock them down when some virus or other is going around.  So when I found out Mum was laid up with the ‘flu and unable to get out of bed, I rang Dad to see how she was going. 

“Doesn’t look good,” he tells me.  “She’s been in bed now for two days and can’t eat or even stand to have the light on.” 

A day later, however, I get a call from Mum who says she’s feeling much better. “Your Dad must have been worried though,” she says.  “He came into the bedroom yesterday and asked me how the washing machine worked.  And then he took notes so he wouldn’t forget.” 

I talk to Dad.  “You are a very lucky man,” I tell him, “ to get to your age and not know how to operate a washing machine.”  He chuckles.  They say it is a wise man that knows what he doesn’t know; it’s an even wiser man who knows what he doesn’t want to know. 

It’s all a bit different to my life spent half the week as a single Dad, maintaining a demanding career and keeping a house together.  In 10 years of married life I was gradually disabused of any blissful ignorance I’d had about the “proper way to do things.”  Some lessons remain:

  1. Clothes pegs are only designed to hold one piece of underwear;
  2. Skirting boards exist and they are supposed to be cleaned; and
  3. Dusting is a weekly ritual and not an annual festival

 And the trouble with knowledge, of course, is that it’s so damn hard to unlearn it. Anyway, I thought I now owned the sum total of information least designed to make my life happier.  And then, just yesterday my ex-wife drops in.  In an act that I can only describe as mean-spirited and spiteful – and provided under the benign guise of helpfulness – she explained to me how to iron my daughter’s pleated skirt. 

Now, for those of you who know how to do this, I need do no more other than offer my profoundest sympathy.  For those of you who do not know how to perform this feat – which remains a conspicuous omission from the Geneva Convention – I will only say that the ironing of pleated skirts is tortuous, deadly, deadly dull and, in medical circles, a strongly suspected link to Tourette’s Syndrome. 

Think of watching grass grow and then imagine helping it grow by personally drawing up each blade of grass with a pair of tweezers.  A veritible smorgasboard of  intellectual delights compared to the bitter gruel of the pleated skirt!  

They say that knowledge will set you free; but some knowledge can make you a slave. They say that knowledge is power, but then, how do you explain George Bush? 



Filed under chauvinism, housework, humour, life, Marriage, Men, Women

6 responses to “A lament for lost ignorance

  1. What were you doing ironing?? hahhaa I just can’t picture it. And yes, I have ironed a pleated skirt. Pain in the $&^, but any skirt is easier than a blouse! Sleeves are Hell!! GL!

  2. Wow, you had me worried there – for one brief moment I thought that maybe you don’t iron pleated skirts and that my wife had pulled some really cruel stunt.

  3. My grandfather, quite the wise man, once said to me after my mother commented on what a horrible job he did on my pigtails, “The role of women in society is parallel to your indifference towards a man that tries.” He raised me on his own after my mother left me at his doorstep… with no instructions!

  4. To the men out there I say always demand a fresh pair of Marigolds before doing the house-work. Dont come across as a push-over.

  5. I’ve been gifted with a husband who does most of the clothes washing and all the ironing. To him, a piece of clothing with wrinkles is an Affront to Human Decency, and ironing is a sort of meditative Zen process. I don’t have the patience to iron, and to me, a shirt with a few wrinkles has personality. It’s one reason I love linen clothes: They’re supposed to look wrinkled!

  6. I have tried ironing every which way, Tiffany – all in one go, just as I need it, listening to music, watching TV, naked…I just don’t have that gene!
    MC – loved your grandfather’s comment, it opens up a whole interesting discussion itself.
    Arnold – no one could ever accuse you of being a pushover. I mean, marigolds…

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