Instead of heading to the hardware store for tile, for instance, no specific reason to mention it, I spent a few hours watching Denzel Washington’s “Flight.” I came away from that movie happy I have no immediate travel plans and glad that there are people, like pilots, who know things, important things. And glad there are men of action, like Denzel, that know things, important things, and know when, and where, to put their knowledge to use in order to save the day.
That made me wonder if I know things…important things. Like tile, for instance, no specific reason to mention it. I mean, I know that I know things, but are the things that I know the things that you would know to be important? You know?
Standing amid the broken, chipped and faded ceramic relics in our bathroom, it may be common knowledge for others that before you can lay new tile, you must first install underlayment and insure you have the correct grout for the type of tile being used.
What I think should be of note, and is entirely more interesting to me, is that ceramic tile can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece. Baked clay tiles offered much better fire protection than thatch. Accordingly, tile was used on important builds, such as the temples honoring Apollo and Poseidon.
Maybe it isn’t a question of knowledge, but one of knowledge relevance. Would it be more practical to have a thorough working knowledge of power tools, like a tile saw for instance, no specific reason to mention it, than the ability to say, “Mrs. Nakamura, you have a lovely home” in flawless Japanese? Certainly, an argument could be made for both. I fear, however, that society, and my tile obsessed wife, value the former and not the latter.
Must I, as the Viagra commercial insists, be able to free a stuck vehicle with a team of horses, or is it better that I know the foot pounds of pulling force a two horse team generates would be insufficient to free the three quarter ton pick up truck depicted in the commercial? Is understanding that the area of a square tile is half of the diagonal squared somehow less important than knowing how to actually affix said tile to the floor, for instance, no specific reason to mention it?
One day, high above in a speeding plane, I may get my chance to answer these questions once and for all if we begin to tumble in an uncontrolled plunge toward the ground. As I white-knuckle grip the arm rests, I’ll sneer at my wife and wonder aloud just how important the bathroom tile is now. Sarcastically I’ll tease, “want to know what’s important, my love? Missouri probate law. See, I’ve made sure our wealth will be transferred in an orderly and expeditious fashion to our heirs in the event of our untimely demise. Tile can eat it, for instance, no specific reason to mention it.”
Then, a panicked flight attendant will grab the speaker and announce that our only hope of survival is if someone can come to the cockpit and explain the difference between monetary and fiscal policy. I’ll calmly look over the dazed and confused faces of the passengers, and like the man of action I am, rise from my seat, give the flight attendant a wink, and say, “Denzel-Smenzel, I got this!”