I feel I can quite comfortably describe myself as a competent person. I have achieved in life, have pieces of paper to quantify my competence, I appreciate complex literature and understand abstract ideas. However, I have come to find that there are a few things in my life that barely touch the surface of my intellect, and in fact hit the edge of my brain and ricochet back off into the ether. I’ve reflected on this and have decided that what I have is a disorder called selective intelligence. In this way, I have selected NOT to learn a few particular life skills, and NOT to understand some abstract notions, even when they have been explained or demonstrated to me time and time again.
Put simply, it goes like this -when I encounter these everyday situations, I still feel the need to pretend that I want to learn, and I ask questions. Then someone patiently tries to explain to me what is happening, or how to solve my problem –but in the immortal words of the Living End song ‘all I am hearing is white noise’. Someone’s lips are moving, but all I can hear is the crackle and whoosh of white noise. No doubt my jaw goes slack and I resemble a yokel as I nod slowly, pretending to comprehend what is happening. Sometimes I may even repeat a step or a piece of advice but really it’s just mimicry. None of it, I mean none of it, has lodged in my mind.
And here the main culprits.
1. Putting the air in the tyres. Where do I find what number they should go up to again? How often do I do it? What’s all this about rotation? White noise.
2. Putting on the doona cover. So I put it inside out and hold which corners? Does it flip over my head, don’t I need it the right side out? White noise.
3. Changing the Foxtel to become the DVD player. Which button on the remote do I press? Do I have to turn the Foxtel off? Why isn’t the DVD playing? White noise.
4. Hooking up the Internet (We just moved, and I had to live yet again through this technology nightmare) But what does the Telstra person do? But doesn’t the broadband just happen? Why do we need the landline phone we have broadband? White noise.
5. Assembling Ikea furniture. (This life skill seems to have haunted me for years – when will I escape the clutches of the Ikea promise of storage solutions?) Where does this piece go? What do you mean that one of the poles is missing? But why is this key named after Allen? White noise.
6. Excel spreadsheets. So if I put in these symbols it will automatically add everything up for me? How do I copy it into a new spreadsheet? Why is it doing that weird spacing thing? White noise.
7. Ironing the nape of a business shirt. BORING. White noise.
Like I said, they’ve all been demonstrated or explained to me a million times – note the demonstration part (as I listen and watch, the task is being done for me). Genius. Look, I try to listen and learn, honestly I do. But I will never, ever become interested. Why? Because I know that I can outsource all these things to some poor sap that is willing to help me out, and let’s face it – the dry cleaner enjoys the financial benefits of my collared shirt selective intelligence. And my helpless act still seems to be pulling the wool over people’s eyes – touch wood. That’s also why I had a kid – so she can smugly install programs on my Ipad in future years, shaking her head at her technophobe mother who seemingly doesn’t understand. I’ll just sit back and enjoy the outsourcing of such a tedious chore – reaping the benefits of my selective intelligence. Now, is someone home to sort out that freshly laundered doona cover for me?
Angie Holst is currently on 12 months maternity leave and had told all her colleagues that she was looking forward to being a lady of leisure for a year – she is still waiting for that leisure time to kick in.
What can you never be interested in?