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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Smugness of Superior Knowledge

It happened on a typical day in the year 1956.  My close friends James Bell and Steve Martin and I were on a neighborhood adventure along the banks of the Manatee River in Ellenton, FL.  We may well have been looking for sharks teeth unearthed by dredging in the middle of the river and piped ashore along with sand as landfill (a practice common at the time before environmental concerns later prohibited it).  As youngsters on the threshold of adolescence, nothing could compare with this adventure (except maybe for the act of digging for lead bullets encased in brass from the embankments of an old fuller’s earth mining site now used by the military as an occasional rifle range).  In any case, today we were walking down the river bank and spied awash in the surf a used condom.  Immediately James exclaimed “What is this?”  Steve and I looked at each another knowingly and told James that we knew what it was, but we wouldn’t say.  Later that day at James’ home, he told his mother what we had seen painting a very good picture of it and said that Wayne and Steve knew what it was, but wouldn’t tell him.  Looking back on this river bank incident, I find the smugness appalling and a major moral failing and even an act of treachery.  It was a simple case where duty arising from friendship plainly called, but I in snobbery stood complacent and content in superior knowledge.

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