By Emma Simonoff

At the risk of being kicked out of college, I want to confess that I’m really dumb. I can only name, like, four of the presidents. I have a thesaurus tab open at all times and I’ve never been sure how to use a dash. And it’s not just school stuff. A lot of what I don’t know is common knowledge that for some reason has never stuck. 

Here’s the thing: I believe I am in many ways a smart person. Not to brag, but I’m pretty good at problem solving, critical thinking, reading comprehension, the type of stuff they write on your report card when you’re in third grade. But knowledge — those facts, names, vocabulary words you memorize or otherwise acquire from years of learning — I don’t have much of that. 

I know things that really don’t matter. I’m really good at that game Six Degrees of Separation, especially when Kevin Bacon isn’t involved. Actually, I’m also good at it when Kevin Bacon is involved because he’s in “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” which connects him to Steve Carell, who connects him to Paul Rudd, who connects to every actor in Hollywood. 

I’m really good at any Jeopardy category that has to do with movies or TV from the 1980s to now. I know how to do a triple-time step and at least four different friendship bracelet patterns. But everything else? I’m at a total loss.

I think this is partially thanks to the fact that from kindergarten to eighth grade, I went to a tiny charter school focused on project-based learning. It was great. I had an amazing time and I developed skills such as how to use a table saw and Italian comedic acting. But I didn’t learn the state capitals, I barely learned grammar and I certainly did not learn the Pledge of Allegiance. 

So now, there are serious gaps in both my general and scholarly knowledge. And yeah, with Google and Bing, I can look anything up. But let’s face it, it’s too late for me. My brain is too full of which actors are friends to keep anything else long-term.

So here’s a list of things I don’t know or have recently learned about, but will probably soon forget:

  • Can lattes be decaf?
  • What is a state senator? 
  • Who is Henry Kissinger and what has he done?
  • What does Christmas even celebrate?
  • What is the difference between a preacher and a minister?
  • How do you drive a car? 
  • Which ocean is which?
  • What does Fiona Apple’s music sound like?
  • Why can you eat some fish raw?
  • How long, really, is a mile?
  • Which peppers are spicy?
  • How do pills work?
  • Where is the Sahara Desert?