GREY MUTTER: Assumptions, when disproven, can make one look pretty silly, writes Lance Fredericks.
ASSUMPTIONS, when disproven, can make one look and feel pretty dopey.
That’s why one thing I have learned over all the years that I have been assuming ‘facts’ on this planet is that it’s best to keep your assumptions to yourself.
Here’s a simple example. When I was still a small human – the time before I was shipped off to school – our family had a dog named Butch, and a white, fluffy cat named Snowy.
I also had an older brother (a boy) and a younger sister (a girl); therefore I assumed that Butch, being bigger, was a boy and Snowy, the smaller of our pets, was a girl. Yes, for a few glorious, ignorant years to me dogs were male and cats were the female of the same species.
Can you imagine the laughter during that one General Science period at Progress Primary School all those years ago?
Then one day, when our parents bought my brother and I T-shirts from Dee Bee stores in George Street, my brother and I looked at the label in the collars and decided that because his name began with an ‘M’ and mine with an ‘L’, Dee Bee had custom made our skippers.
After we had eagerly put on our new shirts, I looked like I was wearing a potato sack and he looked like a chicken in cellophane wrap. For years that story of how my brother and I didn’t know that T-shirts came in ‘medium’ and ‘large’ sizes was told to uncles, aunts, friends and visitors to our home.
But fortunately, I am not the only ‘assumer’ around. Just last week, someone who had newly moved to the Diamond City from the Windy City, via the Mother City came charging towards me thrilled to bits. He was holding what looked like a large shoebox in his hands and his eyes were sparkling.
“You never told me,” he said, still catching his breath. “You never said that Kimberley has an ice rink!” He opened the box and proudly displayed a pair of well-worn skates. I assumed that he’s an avid skater.
“I love skating,” he confirmed my assumption. “And seeing as I have heard that Kimberley’s summers are brutal, I think I am going to be spending quite a bit of time at the rink,” he added as his excitement bubbled over.
He looked at my furrowed brow, and cocked his head. “Do you KNOW where the ice rink is,” he asked cautiously.
I had to break the news that there was none. I then asked him how it came about that he assumed that Kimberley had a skating rink.
“I saw the young people,” he said, almost pleading. “I saw the young people practising their skating in the mall. Everywhere I looked, the youth were practising their ice skating!”
A tear rolled down his cheek. It seemed that at that moment it suddenly dawned on him that in Kimberley young people sometimes don’t bother to pick up their feet when shuffling along. I assume it’s because so much soil has been excavated from the earth here that gravity pulls a bit harder on Kimberlites.
But that’s another assumption.
Anyway, another friend called me this week and told me that this young man, now broken and despondent, is using his skates to dig up weeds in his garden. Much to his wife’s delight.
Oh, for the record, don’t assume that the skating rink story is true; I made most of it up just so that I could get to the topic of gardening.
But I don’t have much to say about gardening except that with Spring 2023, having arrived this morning, it’s a good time to get out, get some fresh air, get your hands in the dirt and plant something that will make you proud to say, “I did that!”
By the way, I am so, so happy that winter is finally over. Not that I have anything against the cold. No, not at all. In fact I love cooler weather. But If I have to see another cough mixture or lozenge commercial where a person strokes his or her throat after consuming the medicine, I am going to drag my feet to the edge of a precipice.
I wonder, does stroking one’s throat increase the effectiveness of the medication? It’s worth some investigation; one must not assume.
But anyway, with three months of Spring ahead of us and what seems to be a brutal Summer waiting in the wings, it’s good to see so many people trotting around the city as they work to melt off the winter ‘wax’. It’s good they’re doing it before summertime.
Apparently we, down here in South Africa, can expect a hotter summer than usual. The South African Weather Service is forecasting ‘above-normal’ temperatures in the months ahead as our old, unwelcome friend El Niño pops in for an extended visit.
However, there is a tiny glimmer of ‘good-ish’ news. The SA Weather Service also expects above-normal rainfall for most of the country from mid to late Spring. We should of course remember that the last El Niño, back in 2015/16, resulted in a very hot and dry summer – all the more reason to get out your unused ice skates, and start digging to get some fruit or veggies planted in your garden.
After all, a healthy crop of tomatoes, squash or other veg can knock a few rands off your grocery bill if an ‘El Niño drought’ results in rising prices. And with the way prices have been soaring, I think it’s probably safe to assume that any preparations we make now – by putting some seed in the ground – can lead to some financial relief later on.
Have yourself a productive Springtime!