No Common Sense

By

No Common Sense
No Common Sense

“That’s Kim, all right. She’s got plenty of book sense, but she doesn’t have a lick of common sense.”

“Where’s Kim? She’s probably got her nose stuck in a book!”

These and other similar comments are a strong thread in the fabric of my childhood memories. My father dropped out of school in fifth grade, earned his living by the sweat of his brow and his wits, and didn’t “hold much stock” in books or education in general. My mother was more tolerant of my bookish ways but still tried her darnedest to make me into a cheerleader or majorette, which both my younger sisters were, to no avail.

Somehow my lack of athletic prowess and eye-hand coordination seemed connected to my lack of “common sense.” After all, couldn’t anyone twirl a baton? Well, no! My forced participation in majorette try-outs convinced my mother that I was not meant to be a majorette. Well, what about cheering? Anyone can clap and jump, right? After all, this was the 70s; cheerleaders did not dance back then, not like today. There were no basket tosses or high-flying pyramids at my high school. Nevertheless, I did not make the squad; in fact, I don’t think I made the first cut. Perhaps my lack of enthusiasm had something to do with it. I’m sure my heart wasn’t in it, but my mother was intent on proving that I was her own flesh and blood, and Mama had been a cheerleader.

I was pretty much the laughingstock of the family when it came to athletics. I ran “like an ostrich,” which I believe referred to legs and upper body looking extremely awkward. I was always the last one chosen in gym when the athletic girls picked their teams for basketball, crab soccer, softball, whatever. Even when my family played softball, I would wind up falling down, having my glasses knocked off, getting hurt or doing something totally nonsensical. “Don’t you have any common sense?” my father would ask. “Didn’t you see the fence?” “Didn’t you see the ball coming towards you?” I guess not.

When it was time to take driver’s education, my instructor was the football coach. The very first day, he threw on his brake as I nearly sideswiped the car next to us while pulling out of our parking place. The first place he had me drive him was the local 7-11 for coffee and cigarettes. “I thought I had this habit licked,” he commented with shaking hands. A few years ago the man died of lung cancer. I still feel guilty.

In my defense, no one had spent any time teaching me how to drive. My father gave up on me on his first effort when I made a right hand turn without using any brakes. “Jesus Christ, what are you doing? Don’t you have any common sense?” He refused to have anything to do with my driving efforts after that. It was up to my sweet, patient boyfriend, with a little blue Volkswagen, who helped me get my license my senior year. Yes, my senior year. All my friends got their licenses when they were sixteen, but I never felt comfortable behind the wheel until Don helped build up my confidence and self esteem with hours of practice in his little blue Bug.

When I was accepted into William and Mary, one of the prerequisites for a degree in the state of Virginia was passing a swimming test or course. Having no common sense, I had never learned how to swim. My family had gone on many trips to Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, Florida, campgrounds with lakes, hotels with pools, and my sisters and brother swam in all the various bodies of water. I waded. I splashed. I never picked my feet up off the bottom. Moving arms and legs at the same time and doing all of this activity without my glasses boggled my mind.

The hurdles I faced in passing that swimming course were not merely physical, they were mental and emotional. The very first day I was delegated into the care of Danny, the red-headed, patient, likable boy who somehow was given the “rejects.” One other girl and I received special help from Danny, who coaxed me into floating, taught me strokes that would allow me to keep my face out of the water and finally helped me with the final obstacle: going off the diving board. Despite my lack of common sense, I finally accomplished all the goals required by the state in order to obtain my degree. I invited my family to the college pool to watch my expertise. They cheered and applauded me as if I were Esther Williams.

The other goals required by the state were less traumatic. I graduated with a degree in English, a minor in Speech and certification to teach. I had a contract for a teaching position before graduation day. That summer, I bought my first car, a purplish-blue-hued Vega. I loved it.

In subsequent years, I married, gave birth to and nurtured two daughters. I have taught high school English, middle school English, Bible as literature, public speaking and Advanced Placement English Composition. I have been a lower school and high school librarian. I have taught Adult Basic Education to handicapped adults. I have sung in the choir, taught Sunday school, played the piano, planned the Senior Citizens’ Supper, chaired Vacation Bible School, held every office in the local Woman’s Club, driven 8,600 miles across country with three other women, and I recently returned from a trip to England.

I feel that I have accomplished a great deal with my time here on earth and to think that I did it with “no common sense.” Just don’t park your car behind me. Backing up requires more common sense than I can muster.

About this writer

  • No Common Sense

    “That’s Kim, all right. She’s got plenty of book sense, but she doesn’t have a lick of common sense.”

    “Where’s Kim? She’s probably got her nose stuck in a book!”

    These and other similar comments are a strong thread in the fabric of my childhood memories. My father dropped out of school in fifth grade, earned his living by the sweat of his brow and his wits, and didn’t “hold much stock” in books or education in general. My mother was more tolerant of my bookish ways but still tried her darnedest to make me into a cheerleader or majorette, which both my younger sisters were, to no avail.

    Somehow my lack of athletic prowess and eye-hand coordination seemed connected to my lack of “common sense.” After all, couldn’t anyone twirl a baton? Well, no! My forced participation in majorette try-outs convinced my mother that I was not meant to be a majorette. Well, what about cheering? Anyone can clap and jump, right? After all, this was the 70s; cheerleaders did not dance back then, not like today. There were no basket tosses or high-flying pyramids at my high school. Nevertheless, I did not make the squad; in fact, I don’t think I made the first cut. Perhaps my lack of enthusiasm had something to do with it. I’m sure my heart wasn’t in it, but my mother was intent on proving that I was her own flesh and blood, and Mama had been a cheerleader.

    I was pretty much the laughingstock of the family when it came to athletics. I ran “like an ostrich,” which I believe referred to legs and upper body looking extremely awkward. I was always the last one chosen in gym when the athletic girls picked their teams for basketball, crab soccer, softball, whatever. Even when my family played softball, I would wind up falling down, having my glasses knocked off, getting hurt or doing something totally nonsensical. “Don’t you have any common sense?” my father would ask. “Didn’t you see the fence?” “Didn’t you see the ball coming towards you?” I guess not.

    When it was time to take driver’s education, my instructor was the football coach. The very first day, he threw on his brake as I nearly sideswiped the car next to us while pulling out of our parking place. The first place he had me drive him was the local 7-11 for coffee and cigarettes. “I thought I had this habit licked,” he commented with shaking hands. A few years ago the man died of lung cancer. I still feel guilty.

    In my defense, no one had spent any time teaching me how to drive. My father gave up on me on his first effort when I made a right hand turn without using any brakes. “Jesus Christ, what are you doing? Don’t you have any common sense?” He refused to have anything to do with my driving efforts after that. It was up to my sweet, patient boyfriend, with a little blue Volkswagen, who helped me get my license my senior year. Yes, my senior year. All my friends got their licenses when they were sixteen, but I never felt comfortable behind the wheel until Don helped build up my confidence and self esteem with hours of practice in his little blue Bug.

    When I was accepted into William and Mary, one of the prerequisites for a degree in the state of Virginia was passing a swimming test or course. Having no common sense, I had never learned how to swim. My family had gone on many trips to Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, Florida, campgrounds with lakes, hotels with pools, and my sisters and brother swam in all the various bodies of water. I waded. I splashed. I never picked my feet up off the bottom. Moving arms and legs at the same time and doing all of this activity without my glasses boggled my mind.

    The hurdles I faced in passing that swimming course were not merely physical, they were mental and emotional. The very first day I was delegated into the care of Danny, the red-headed, patient, likable boy who somehow was given the “rejects.” One other girl and I received special help from Danny, who coaxed me into floating, taught me strokes that would allow me to keep my face out of the water and finally helped me with the final obstacle: going off the diving board. Despite my lack of common sense, I finally accomplished all the goals required by the state in order to obtain my degree. I invited my family to the college pool to watch my expertise. They cheered and applauded me as if I were Esther Williams.

    The other goals required by the state were less traumatic. I graduated with a degree in English, a minor in Speech and certification to teach. I had a contract for a teaching position before graduation day. That summer, I bought my first car, a purplish-blue-hued Vega. I loved it.

    In subsequent years, I married, gave birth to and nurtured two daughters. I have taught high school English, middle school English, Bible as literature, public speaking and Advanced Placement English Composition. I have been a lower school and high school librarian. I have taught Adult Basic Education to handicapped adults. I have sung in the choir, taught Sunday school, played the piano, planned the Senior Citizens’ Supper, chaired Vacation Bible School, held every office in the local Woman’s Club, driven 8,600 miles across country with three other women, and I recently returned from a trip to England.

    I feel that I have accomplished a great deal with my time here on earth and to think that I did it with “no common sense.” Just don’t park your car behind me. Backing up requires more common sense than I can muster.

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2 Responses to “No Common Sense”

  1. ….and I wish I had your “book sense”
    Love it!

  2. Kathy Frierson says:

    I’ve known Kim for only part of her adult life. I’ve been with her through fun times and really sad and traumatic times and never noticed a lack of common sense. However, I did not know her as a young girl or as a young woman struggling to make a go of it. I must say I cannot remember ever riding in the car with her driving. Hopefully her driving skills have improved with age. This was such a fun article to read, and I’m looking forward to many more.

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