My brother is home this weekend. I shared with him some of the academic work I've done over the past eight days. He was perplexed by one of the papers -- the one about sexual inequality among pygmies in the Ituri Rainforest of Zaire.
"Anthropology is about real people, right?" he inquired.
"Yeah," I answered, with the unspoken words, "and your point is . . ." lingering in the air.
"So why do they let you write about mythical creatures for an anthropology class?" he continued.
"Huh?" I responded, not sure from where he was coming.
"Pygmies aren't real. They're just fairy-tale creatures . . . like Oompah Loompahs. Oompah Loompahs are basically pygmies."
"Matthew," I told him, not quite believing I was participating in the conversation, "Pygmies are real. They're tribes of people who live in rainforests and are less than fifty-nine inches in height. Roald Dahhl made up Oompah Lompahs, but pygmies are real."
"No way, " he countered. "Mom, Alexis just said . . . " I have no idea how he finished the sentence because he headed downstairs to question my mother about the lies he thought I was telling him about pygmies.
The bad news is that Matthew will be admitted to a more prestigious medical school than I'll get into because his grades are good and he interviews extremely well because he's so charming. In medical school interviews, questions about general knowledge topics such as pygmies aren't typically asked, so he's safe. In roughly six-and-one half years, Matthew may be interning in a hospital near you.
The good news is that he studies hard and learns what he is specifically taught or instructed to read. Just hope that someone either taught him about appendicitis or told him to read that chapter in a book before you walk with pain in your lower right quadrant into the hospital where he's completing his internship.