By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Sudie Crouch: The curse of common sense
Light bulb
Lucrezia Carnelos, unsplash

Granny used to get aggravated by just about everything. 

Her reason, she claimed, was because she had to deal with a bunch of folks who didn’t have a lick of sense. 

Sudie Crouch
As a child, I assumed she meant the people at work; as an adult, I’m fairly certain she was meaning us. Maybe not all of us, just a few of us, too. 

She often was quick to tell me I had book smarts, and she hoped that one day, I’d get a lick of common sense. 

“What makes you think common sense is better than book smarts?” I asked, slightly curious and offended at her backhanded compliment — the only kind she knew how to give — at the same time. 

“Because it is,” was her simple response. 

“How so?”

She sighed and rolled her eyes. 

“Because it is, that’s why.” 

“What’s the difference?” I asked. 

She sighed again. 

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.”

The Redheaded Prime guarded me, as if she was trying to decide if I could be trusted with this knowledge. “You think you know a lot because you’ve got book learning. But book learning’s only good when it comes to taking a test. With real life, you need common sense.”

That still didn’t give me any substantial examples and I said so. 

“When something happens, do you want to know algebra, or do you want to know what to do?”

In all fairness, that wasn’t a good example. I’ve never experienced a need for it beyond the last time I took it in college. 

“So is it like street smarts?” I asked. 

She frowned. “You ain’t getting it. It’s more than just street smarts. Street smarts come with having to survive and learning how. Common sense can’t be taught.” 

The way Granny spoke of common sense made it seem like it was some almost other-worldly type of phenomenon, a superpower that only a few chosen possessed, yet it wasn’t a matter of being able to pull the sword out of a stone or having someone declare one blessed with it. 

Her explanation of it made it sound like it was part intuition or gut instinct and part being able to see the outcome of situations long before anyone else could. 

According to Granny, you either were born with common sense or you weren’t. And most weren’t. 

Like with most things when I was younger — and by younger, I mean up until my late 20’s — I thought Granny was just exaggerating and making a big fuss over nothing. 

The myth of common sense didn’t seem like it was a big deal, and I didn’t grasp the full meaning of her words or her insistence that common sense was on the endangered list. 

As always, she reminded me all my book learning was practically worthless. 

“The Department of Ed may disagree with you there,” I said dryly. 

“Yeah, see what I mean,” she said. “You spent all that money on an education that wasn’t really worth a dang. And for what? To do a job that ain’t nowhere near what you went to school to do.”

Ouch. The old gal had a sharp point.  At the time she made this comment, I was selling radio ads, something that didn’t require me to have a college degree but needed a lot of interpersonal skills. 

“Being able to read people takes common sense,” she said. “People ain’t all that complicated. You think you need to study psychology. You don’t. Most people will show you what they gonna do before they do it. You just need to watch ‘em.” 

She was right, as usual. She was right about a lot of things. 

Common sense, it seems, was indeed a mix of watching people, observing patterns, and then knowing how to proceed with all of that information. 

“To me, that just sounds like it’s a matter of understanding behavior and seeing correlations,” I said, proud of my big words. 

She gave me a wary side eye. “You just don’t get it. Maybe one day you will. But I’ll tell you something, Lil Un, the bad thing about common sense is having to deal with all the dadblamed folks who ain’t got none.”

As I grew older and wiser, I found myself coming into contact with people who, as Granny described, didn’t have enough sense to pour tea out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel. 

Some of the most basic of things eluded them, and trying to reason or speak logic into the situations was a futile battle. 

I began to understand what Granny had preached for all those years. 

I described the experience to her, which she listened to quietly, not interrupting or interjecting her salty wisdom for a change. 

When I finished, she finally spoke. “Well, old gal, I reckon you do have a bit of common sense. Now, the real trouble begins.”

“What trouble?” I asked, genuinely concerned. 

“You’ll see. It’s a double-edged sword.”

One day last week, I was recounting a story to Mama about something that unfolded just precisely the way I had predicted it would.

I could see how things were going to happen and it did. But no one would listen to me. 

“How did you know?” Mama asked. She paused. “How are you always right?” 

I sighed. “Believe me,” I began. “Sometimes, it’s a curse.” 

Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.