A Little Bit of Knowledge: XINGing, Unicorns & the benefits of a Dirty Car

FB REPOST: Tuesday, 08 September 2009 at 01:04

A LITTLE BIT OF KNOWLEDGE is one of my all-time favorite THIS AMERICAN LIFE shows!

This episode is hilarious; my sister elizabeth & I listened to it two times in a row last summer – and we laughed till we cried both times! i listened to it again tonight and still laugh out loud, probably because I had my own myth-type belief instilled by my mother when i was 13 or 14 years old.
I complained to my mom that we really should wash our family car because i was quite embarrassed of the dirty car (lovingly referred to as the sherman tank since it was army green in color and the muffler had fallen off) when she would pick me up from events with my school friends. My mother April (a teacher and really, really smart) convinced me, with strong scientific evidence, that “dirt protected the car paint.” This myth was not dispelled until i was 22 years old. i nearly convinced my boyfriend (SvR), with mom’s scientific evidence, that he didn’t need to wash his car. He barely believed me, so we called my mother to get the specific scientific ultraviolet penetration/dirt density data and she started laughing. She assumed i would have figured it out (or perhaps would have looked it up at the library) that she had been pulling my leg! i had not questioned the dirty car phenomenon, because my mother was usually accurate 99% of the time on anything scientific, mathematic and intellectual, and we would look up the answers at the library the other 1% of the time when she was unsure. i guess my mom didn’t know i was voted “most gullible” several years in a row in high school.

PS-from what i remember this looks somewhat like our old station wagon - except ours was dark green metallic and sometimes covered in a thin layer of (protective) dirt.


April Colburn-Untersinger 08 September 2009 at 14:42

I think the green SW was a Plymouth. I listened to “A little Bit of Knowledge” with interest, smiling at some, thoughtful about others. Thanks for sending it my way. I listen to the local public radio station most of the time and appreciate the variety of things I hear.

April Colburn-Untersinger 08 September 2009 at 14:59

Our wagon might have looked something like this: http://www.stationwagon.com/gallery/1963_Plymouth_Fury.html, only greener and grimier. Cool website, I found a RamblerAmerican that looks like the one we had in 1966, also red and white. We had many station wagons for many years.

Sarah Nean Bruce 08 September 2009 at 19:25

grimy is a much better word to describe “Sherman!”
i thought it might have been a Dodge Coronet (but Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler vehicles all kinda of looked the same to me).
yes, we had lots of old station wagons… those station wagons of yesteryear, are today’s SUVs!
i thought our RamblerAmerican SW (with three-on-the-tree) was named “Goldie” since she was gold in color? It seemed Carl liked the rear facing back seat and i liked sitting in the front seat and sometimes shifting for you.

April Colburn-Untersinger 09 September 2009 at 13:23

Goldie was #2. Red & White was #1, when Carl was born. I think it died from a blown head gasket.

Elizabeth Abram 12 September 2009 at 10:45

which one ran me over?

Sarah Nean Bruce

i think Goldie… 1973.


This American Life


Originally aired 07.22.2005

293: A Little Bit of Knowledge


FB REPOST: Tuesday, 08 September 2009 at 01:04

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