Most of the time, I feel very much like a normal person. I tootle along, doing my thing, and life is cool. I think my thoughts, I behave my behaviors, I eat my foods, I say my words, and I brush my teeth twice a day. I feel very normal. I think this is an average life.
And then, occasionally, I am suddenly made hyper-aware of how far outside the realm of "normal" I am generally operating. The realization hits me like a wave, and I am left shaken and confused.
Some of my coworkers didn't know what "pragmatic" meant. That was today's sudden Weird Awareness Wave.
Doesn't seem like enough to set off an existential crisis, does it? But it is. I find the idea of an adult not knowing the meaning of the word "pragmatic" to be utterly, completely incomprehensible.
What do you MEAN you don't know what it means? It's not that strange of a word! It's relatively common! It's used in general discourse! I don't expect you to be able to give me the OED definition, but you can at least use the word correctly in a sentence, right?
We're teachers, for heaven's sake. TEACHERS.
PLEASE TELL ME THAT IT'S NOT ABNORMAL TO KNOW THE DEFINITION OF "PRAGMATIC."
I called my parents to ask them questions about an unrelated event. I asked them both to define "pragmatic." Mom went with "practical." Dad went with "realistic." I felt less alone.
My brother is a smart guy, but is admittedly not a language freak. He's an engineer. He likes numbers and variables. I had to help him with English papers quite frequently when we were in high school.
I called my brother and left him a message- I have a weird question for you, please call me back.
"Hey, you called, what's up?"
I need you to tell me what "pragmatic" means.
"What the hell? Why are you asking me?"
I need to know that you know the definition of "pragmatic."
>uncomfortable, on-the-spot noises<
I don't need the official definition, just use it in a sentence.
"This is the pragmatic solution."
Sigh of relief.
"I guess it means... logical? Reasonable? Why are YOU asking ME?"
I related the story.
"Dude, there's no way they've gotten through adulthood without having heard that word. You'd think they could at least use deductive reasoning to puzzle out what it meant."
The fact that you just used the phrase "deductive reasoning" makes me believe that our whole family might be outliers in this situation.
"I guarantee that almost none of my coworkers could use 'deductive reasoning' or 'pragmatic' in a sentence. The world is dumber than you think it is."
And the Waves of Otherness continue to wash over me.
What other words do I use casually that are incomprehensible to the general public? I mean, I know I like words more than the average person. I get a kick out of etymology. If see or hear a word that I cannot immediately define, I will Google it. Nuance is important. I want my words to accurately describe my thoughts, and I will pick and choose words carefully to assure that I am conveying the message I intend to convey.
Is this really such a strange trait?
If this is strange, what the fuck is normal?
HOW WEIRD AM I?
I'm sure that I will have returned to a feeling of normalcy by morning. And I will tootle along again, oblivious to the actual state of normalcy, and I will continue to use clarifying words that only serve to obscure my meaning, and I will forget again.
But at this moment?
I feel like I just found out that the world is actually flat.