Just had an interesting (re: frustrating) conversation with my lovely and patient husband whom I almost punched in the face repeatedly. Seriously, I wanted to punch him in his face. We were essentially discussing what qualifies a person as “stupid.” It turns out, we have vastly different definitions of the word.
The conversation started with his statement that he believes he is difficult to work with and for because he doesn’t tolerate stupidity very well and people feel that he is belittling them when he tries to teach them how to do something. He expounded on this thought with hand graphs (graphs demonstrated rather than written) and specific examples.
I disagreed a little bit about his workplace demeanor and reminded him that he can be very patient and loves to teach people new things, he just has trouble getting the “you’re an idiot” out of his voice. Thisis a trait I believe he picked up from his father who can make you feel dumb in fewer words than anyone I know. This led to our disagreement over what constitutes “stupid.”
He stated that he doesn’t really think people are stupid when they don’t know how to do something but then ruined it with “some things are just common sense and everyone should know how to do them.” I asked for examples of those things and he mentioned using a drill and I almost punched him because he tries to correct and “help” me every time I use the f-ing drill. We both vividly remember when I asked him to put shelves in our pantry and he decided that I was perfectly capable of doing it myself with just a little bit of help from him. His help consisted of hovering, pointing out errors, laughing, and making me feel like an idiot. This incident occurred probably 9 years ago and I still refuse to use the drill when he is home. I eventually walked away from the project and let him finish it on his own and everyone was much happier.
My theory is that adults should only be labeled as stupid when they consistently make poor decisions not because they have little to no experience or practice at a certain task or in a certain field. To illustrate my point, I asked Blair what would happen if he was expected to direct musical theater tomorrow. His response, “I would be stupid at first but then I would watch and learn and not be stupid anymore.” My argument is that he would not be stupid in the beginning, just inexperienced. Furthermore, the fact that he is willing to listen and learn makes him the opposite of stupid. He disagreed and would not just let it go at semantics, trying to tell me that inexperienced and stupid are synonyms. No, they are definitely not synonyms and he is irritating. (2nd punch restrained)
At this point, I am all but yelling because he has repeatedly told me that I am stupid because I’m not very good with the god forsaken drill. I do not take kindly to being called stupid, he knows this, and is finding this entire conversation absolutely hilarious. I am not. Trying to get across my point that inexperience and lack of practice does not equal stupidity to him is like beating my head against the wall and I sort of wish that I was beating his head against the wall. I continued to throw out illustrations and examples, as did he, but we could not agree on whether one mistake or inexperience qualifies as stupidity.
I tried to explain that each person has a different set of experiences and frame of reference and therefore a different skill set. This does not make one or the other stupid, just approaching a task from different perspectives. He, along with his father, believes that anyone who does not possess his specific bubble of knowledge must be dumb. Blair does realize that other people have larger spheres of knowledge than he and doesn’t claim to be an expert on everything; he just believes that since something makes sense to him, it should make sense to everyone.
For instance, the way tractors work makes sense to him, he understands the gears and engine, how to change the oil and weld on replacement parts. He doesn’t understand that since he grew up on a farm and enjoyed helping his dad work on equipment that he has a specific set of experiences and knowledge that makes it feel like common sense to him. Needless to say, it is not common sense to me but he finds it so irritating that I have no idea what he is talking about when he discusses pto shafts, bearings, and lots of other gobbledygook talk.
I don’t want you to get the impression that I was calmly stating my beliefs at this point: I was stuttering and almost physically restraining myself from punching him. He, however, was thoroughly enjoying pissing me off. I pointed out that he was using the same demeaning and belittling tone (the “you’re an idiot” tone) that he uses when trying to explain spatial relations, gears, or the ever-loving drill to me and that I wanted to punch him in his face. He laughed, gave me a kiss, and went back to the farm.