As I was walking to the park last night, I saw somebody carrying something long and flat that I thought looked like a surfboard. As I got closer, I saw that it was much too thick to be a surfboard, and was maybe a kayak of some sort. And then it occurred to me that I have never actually seen a surfboard and have no idea how thick or thin they might be. I have certainly seen them on television and in movies, and everybody knows what a surfboard looks like, right? I guess. I mean, I pretty much know what one looks like. Or maybe not.
That got me to thinking: how many things are out there that I unreasonably believe I know all about, even though I have never actually seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted one? Here is what I'm sure is an extremely partial list.
Common(ish) Things I Have Never Seen
A Gun (that is not in a policeman's holster from a distance)
Gone With the Wind
I would, at this time, like to point out how difficult it is to make a list of things that you have not seen. When making lists, my first instinct is to look around me for things that might go on it, but that will clearly not work here, and my second instinct is to search my memory for things that might fit, but that will not work either. And not only am I looking for things I have not seen, but I am looking for things that I think I've seen, but haven't. Maddening!
It is funny, though, how an object can feel so familiar just because one has heard songs about it, or seen videos of it, or read stories about it. Even though I have never seen a desert with my own eyes, I have seen countless films and programs that feature deserts and so I feel that I know pretty well what a desert is like. But do I? If someone were to question me deeply about kilts, I would say that they are plaid and Scottish. But are they more wraps, or skirts? How long are they, really? Having never examined one, I honestly couldn't say.
I'm sure there are things that could go on the list that would be far more surprising than what I was able to come up with using instinct alone. My real list is probably huge, and would have to include places I think I know well that I have never been to, Paris for instance, or San Francisco. And I would have to put foods on it that I have never eaten, like seabass and portabella mushrooms. All in all, a good percentage of my knowledge comes from books, movies, television, and music. Which means second-hand. So is it good that my horizons are expanded greatly beyond what I would have otherwise experienced? Or am I just a cocky son-of-a-gun who thinks he knows way more than he actually does?
Probably a little of both.