Again I am clueless even though I get as much instruction as everyone else. At rowing practice recently I realized, O, the straps are supposed to be tight around your foot, O, you’re supposed to adjust the foot-holder so that the bottom part is snug around your ankle, O you’re supposed to push against the strap when you push off from the balls of your feet and from the ankles. I’d made my strap loose before, I’d not known how to determine the length of the footholder. All of this is obvious and seems like it should have been obvious. But it was like I had the pieces but didn’t put them together right. I would make the strap fairly loose, wondering why exactly we had to strap our feet in. My time was really good today, our young coach J said the other day, you're flying, you’ll have to get a new 20-minute average.
What is it about me that takes so long to understand the obvious? There was a column some years back in the SF Chronicle by a woman who was unfit for the world or a failure at living. She would write about how daunting it was to renew her driver’s license.
Then there is the narrator of Deborah Eisenberg's short story Days: I have always wondered, up until this moment, whenever I have heard them mentioned, what tube socks are. Now I realize...They're SOCK TUBES, and they are the only sort of socks that make any sense, because you just stick your foot into one any old way and leave it there, and the sock, not your foot, has to adjust. The feelings of confusion produced by the term "tube sock" are not, I realize, due to the nature of the tube sock itself but rather to the term's implication that all socks are not tube socks and the attendant question of why they are not.
In high school we could paint on the walls of the Newspaper Shack. There were two young Surrealists who were a year younger than I was/am, and they wrote on the wall things like: Man discovers hand, 1936. Their trademark call-and-response was: Who is the Real Snake? Yes. One was Mormon and looked like an IBM employee from the early years and talked about the upcoming missionary work. The other was lanky and stooped with long blond hair and later had a girlfriend with curly blond hair and they spent all lunchtime on the old old couch, oblivious to everyone else. Causing us to chant: She offered her honor, he honored her offer, so it was honor, offer. This all relates somehow to the de-familiarization of the familiar and more importantly, vice versa. And to late discoveries.