Sunday, August 23, 2015

Vacation Day #4: You didn't know?

A recent Facebook post by author Alafair Burke revealed she had not known that the Butter Cow at the Iowa State Fair was indeed made of butter. She felt like she was the last person in the world to know this.

What were you the last person in the world to know?


Kitty said...

Butter cow? I had to google that and discovered the Butter Cow History.

Kitty said...

FTA: Much of the butter is recycled and reused for up to 10 years.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I was the last person to know that I don't know everything. My mother used to hold the title of know-it-all until she died. Hey, DNA is DNA. Money would have nice though.

Susan Bonifant said...

That you have to be at bat in baseball to score. I learned this when I was nevermind how many years old.

However, I've made it my metaphor for happy living, so it's all good.

Melissa said...

I am still dumbstruck that the ABCs are sung to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

KariV said...

I found out James Earl Jones was *dead* and mourned him for three years. Until one day my husband informed me he wasn't dead. Hallelujah! Funny thing is, my sister had also thought he was dead for the same three years. Go figure...

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Melissa, maybe it's the other way around and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is sung to the tune of the ABCs.

Unknown said...

I remember the day I was told 'alot' wasn't a word. My reaction was 'since when?'

When I graduated grade 12 I went right to work at the local steel mill. SO lucky! Pension, benefits, union wages...I was the envy of all. Ah, youth.

But I went to college at night taking English courses and the teacher made fun of me for using 'alot' in an essay. How the hell did I get through 12 years of school with no one telling me before this?

Theresa said...

What it means when a woman says she's going to powder her nose.

InkStainedWench said...

There are a lot of things that I may or may not be the last person in the world to know because I don't know them yet.

Those unknown unknowns will get you every time.

Craig F said...

There are many things that I am still oblivious to. Of most import I think that i was the last to know that I am, somewhere down there, a writer. Others noticed promise in the quips and parables I told. When a young lady asked me to immortalize her I began to understand. Still have other things to learn to understand though.

Steve Forti said...

Melissa, you are not the last person to realize that. At least, not anymore. I just learned that by reading your comment. Mind blown.

Anonymous said...

Some years ago, I decided on a lovely Saturday morning to go pick up my oldest son and take him to breakfast. I stopped by his trailer, but there was a car there I didn't recognize. I assumed it was a rodeo buddy passing through town and spending the night. Cowboys do this. When you're in Odessa, you stay with this person. When you're in Lubbock, you stay at so and so's ranch.

Anyway, I thought it would be funny to shoe polish the car. Off I go to the local convenience store and buy white shoe polish. I tried to get Will to help, but he is wise in the ways of brotherly vengeance and refused. So I wrote various things on the car and pickup windows. Mostly it had to do with, "Repent sinner!"

I did not know that was his girlfriend's car. I guess I was the last person in town to know he was dating a preacher's daughter. Was is the operative word here.

Beth H. said...

For a long time, I didn't realize that the TV show Wings and the band Wings were unrelated.

Melissa, the same tune is also used for Bah, Bah, Black Sheep. It was originally a French folk song called "Ah! vous dirai-je, maman."

Melissa said...

Steve, I'm so glad I wasn't the last. I feel like this should be covered in elementary school. My whole outlook shifted that day and now I wonder what else I'm missing.

LynnRodz said...

I've always had a passion for astronomy and I did a science fair in 6th grade. I was surprised to find out that the universe was made up of galaxies and intergalactic space and not a continuous expanse of stars, planets, etc., like I thought it was.

Oh yeah, Alafair Burke is one step ahead of me. I didn't even know there was a Butter Cow, let alone it's made of butter. Live and learn.

I should talk, I bought my husband a T-shirt that says,


Whenever he wears it, guys laugh and give him a thumbs up. Women react even better, they stop him and want to take a photo with him.

Kregger said...

I was aghast when my first wife told me that wearing red and green clothes from Jan. to Nov. was faux pax. We agreed on no alimony.

Adele said...

That the civil rights movement in the United States was *not* about the rights of civil servants.

In my defense - I was seven and I did ask. I asked my teacher, who told me that a lady in the United States got on a bus and sat down and they said she couldn't sit there, she had to sit over there. And she said no. And that's civil rights and if I went away and thought about it I'd figure it out.

I went home and asked my mother, and she told me the exact same thing. So, ignoring the bus lady story because of course once you've copped your seat on the bus it's yours (even I knew that), I went away and thought about it.

Civil rights were, obviously, the rights of ... um ... "civils". And I wondered what civils could be. Where else had I heard the term? After a good long think, I remembered - Aha! Civil servants. Teachers and garbage men and so on. And it fit perfectly because I had read that the people in the civil rights movement objected to people thinking of them as servants. I had no idea the term civil servant was so very wrong.

And it seemed awfully unfair because the newspapers seemed to equate the civil servants with being black, so that would mean that all the civil servants in the United States were black and my teacher was white and she was a pretty good teacher and our garbage men were white and they seemed to do a perfectly fine job and it seemed quite wrong to think that in the United States they wouldn't have a job because of their skin colour.

And yes, I thought this for a good long time - I was probably ten or eleven when I was reading about yet another riot and I suddenly realized that it was all way too big to be some kind of extensive garbage strike.

Marc P said...

Well I am at the moment the last person in the world to be reading 'The Girl on the Train.'

At the moment I may be missing something.

DeadSpiderEye said...

Butter comes from cows?

Anonymous said...


Yes, I know you're joking.

My grandparents owned a dairy farm and milked all their cows by hand. As such we always had plenty of fresh milk, cream, butter, and cheese. One of my jobs was beating the cream with a hand mixer to make butter. I didn't think so at the time, but the process is fascinating. I wish my aunt had sent me the butter paddles she used to squeeze out the buttermilk.

The fresh cream and butter was incomparable.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Marc P, the 170 people in my library system still waiting for The Girl on the Train also haven't read it yet either. Unless they got impatient and bought it and won't tell us that 'til we call them for their hold......

If I heard the words "butter cow" that's probably what I would've thought, that it was made from butter (my Freshman year of college we had...Tibetan?....monks making butter sculpture in the college's museum). What I'm stuck on is that "Alafair" is a female's name and I'm embarrassed for not knowing.

But then, I'm the trick pony that my coworkers think of random weird shit to ask (or turn to me when a patron has asked them random weird shit), as I may or may not actually know the real answer. Or the book for it. Rarely have I been so vindicated with one particular coworker as the day a patron came to the front desk and asked for a book about "Chernobyl and the town the way it is now." WORMWOOD FOREST by Mary Mycio. (the town being the abandoned city of Pripyat, built for the power plant's workers. the amusement park there never even opened, Pripyat was so new when Reactor 4 went.)

Karen McCoy said...

Ha! So glad I'm not the only one.

Sheltered upbringing made for not knowing water in restaurants was free until I was 25.

Marc P said...

@Jennifer R.. send them my book instead. It's got more jokes in it ;)

Anonymous said...

I was the last person in the world to know who Dr. Who was. I've still only seen a few episodes here and there. We didn't get Dr. Who in my part of Canada when I was growing up (we had three channels, and one of them was French. When we got a fourth channel, we started getting television we'd never known existed (outside of Tiger Beat). But still no Dr. Who.)

Sorry, Colin.

I think I was also the last to know that the 'book award' I won my last year in high school was meant to encourage my writing. My parents did a very good job discouraging my writing, saying it wasn't practical and I needed a 'real job'. They also tried to keep me out of university. That's something else that I was probably the last to know. I was so keen on going to university and learning so much more, that I didn't realize my parents wanted to shuffle me into an 'ordinary' job, like library technician or secretary.

InkStainedWench: It's those double deltas, every time.

Julie: Your response about butter and cheese, etc., reminded me of Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books. At 10, she was an expert cheese and butter maker. Then she went on to become a powerful witch. She was the last person to know a 10-year-old shouldn't be a dairy expert and a witch. She went far (all the way to Ankh-Morpork, in fact. The biggest city on the Disc).

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I'm with Amanda, it wasn't until I was 40 did I learn that one. Alot was always underlined in red on my documents. I think it should be a word.

When I was young I knew everyone went to college, and everyone in the world knew how to paint.

Recently I learned what the oxford comma is.

Julie, so hilarious.

DeadSpiderEye said...


Hi Julie, I've seen the town I grew up in transform from a rural environment to a semi-urban one. I've never seen a herd milked by hand here, even the small sheds were automated, probably because the dairy industry used to be run by a state institution that required it. I do have a little experience with farm work, if a pig shed can be described as farm that is. A lot of the local agriculture has been rationalised long ago, even the watercress beds, they couldn't stay open when the water charges grew too high.

That description of home produced dairy is something that coincides with my experience of fresh farm goods too. There's just something that happens along the chain towards retail, the freshness probably plays a role but I suspect it's the homogeneous quality of retail goods too.

Dena Pawling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dena Pawling said...

I was the last person to know I didn't die in childbirth.

After 18+ hours of hard labor, the doctor told me the baby was stuck. I was given the “choice” of breaking his collarbone to get him out, or an emergency C-section. Not one of the more difficult choices in my life, which was good because I was not in any condition to deal with a major choice.

I apparently had an allergic reaction to whatever meds they gave me, because all I remember is trying desperately to disconnect the tubes from my arms. Several nurses had to help my husband hold me down as I was thrashing and writhing.

I woke up however-long later, and was presented with my son. Such a beautiful baby, but I'm not biased =)

The next day I was shown photos of my husband holding the baby, grandma #1 holding the baby, grandma #2 holding the baby, assorted aunts and uncles and cousins holding the baby. All taken while I was out cold. I was also the last person to hold the baby.

He has my hair and my feet. Poor kid.

He's 21 now and in the Navy. Always momma's boy.

I didn't learn from my experience with #1, because I have four children [the other three were v-bac]. All of them were difficult deliveries, and all of them are beautiful, but then you knew that =)

Lydia D. said...

Adele, your story cracked me up. You were a pretty clever seven-year-old, even if you did reach the wrong conclusion in your cleverness! It reminds me of a time just a few weeks ago, when I was volunteering at a summer school for kids who needed help with their reading. One girl (about nine years old?) I worked with read a book on Rosa Parks, then asked me to quiz her on the book's content. I asked what year it took place, and her guess was 1998. Sort of made me feel old.

CynthiaMc said...

I didn't know the post office delivered on Sunday. I'm writing in my garden (screenplay with an October deadline). Also trying to sketch in between they look like cave drawings but anything improves with practice). I looked up and saw a US Postal Service delivery vehicle go by, so either they deliver on Sunday or someone stole it in broad daylight.

Donnaeve said...

Amanda, et al, I'll go one further - same with alright. I'd always used it until about a year ago, when I read it's not a word, yet somehow morphed into today's usage - probably like alot. On another blog, I wrote a comment (this was AFTER I learned about alright) and said something to the effect that I was invoking my Matthew McConaughey, "alright, alright, alright." I purposely used alright because of the way he says it, close together, no gaps. Spelling out "all right, all right, all right," just didn't sound McConaughey'ish. Some idget came along and wrote in reply to mine, "All right."


Marc P said...

@Donnaeve you are a creative writer. You absolutely own everything in your work - including the spellings or joining together of words. Nobody can take that away from you, unless you let them of course; It is absolutely alright to do what you want with words. Language always has and still is evolving. Grammar is for geography essays, not creative english.


Adele said...

When I was in school (back in the 60s) I was taught that "alright" was acceptable in casual writing but not in formal writing. Here's what the OED has to say (right now in 2015):

"There is no logical reason for insisting that all right should be written as two words rather than as alright, when other single-word forms such as altogether have long been accepted. Nevertheless, alright is still regarded as being unacceptable in formal writing."

Personally I think some grammarians ought to untwist their knickers.

Amy Schaefer said...

My kids and I were the last people to hear Gangnam Style, due to a long (long, long) period without internet access. The kids made up for it by singing along to the video ten times a day for the subsequent three months.

And now I've put that song in my head, dammit.

Anonymous said...

I was the last person to know the words in the song were actually "devil with the blue dress on" and not "devil with the blue glass arm."

OK, probably I was also the ONLY person who didn't know that. I still think my version made for a far more interesting song.

Anonymous said...

I like the way Marvel spellled 'all right' for certain characters (the Thing from Fantastic Four, J. Jonah Jameson from Spiderman): awright. As in, "Awright, awright, awright."

Yes, I used to read comics, until I couldn't afford my then-$40 a week habit. (Would be closer to $100 a week these days, if I'd kept it up. Maybe more.)

Donnaeve said...

MarcP, Adele, BJ, - and I should know to "own it" b/c hey, McCarthy right? Have you seen how he joins words together, and they almost seem like brand spanking new words only it's something like screendoor, or openwindow, or cattlecall. (these are my own, made up, but it's kind a like that)

You're right of course, Marc, in that we can choose, hence why it's "creative." (hello, earth to Donna?)

Adele, I loved "Personally I think some grammarians ought to untwist their knickers."

Awrighty then! Must keep thisall inmind. :)
Snort laughing at that! Oh, if only I'd had that to reply back.

Michael Seese said...

That the lyric to the song by Wham really IS "guilty FEET got no rhythm."

On a different tack, how about something I was the first to know. When Bugs Bunny says, "What a maroon," he means "moron." But he's saying it wrong; that's the joke.

Donnaeve said...

kdjames, if I could only remember all the songs I've butchered - although that one you gave - that one might beat them all.

More interesting without a doubt.

"Wrapped up like a douche another runner in the night!"

Yeah, I sang it loud and proud, just like that.

nightsmusic said...

@Marc P

The Girl on the Train? What girl on the train?

Lance said...

Y'all make me laugh alot, already. I haven't read The Girl on the Train or watched an episode of Dr. Who. I haven't eaten a kale kabob, but I do like Lima beans. I was in college before I knew that Shakespeare wrote some funny, funny stuff and that A. Conan Doyle wrote better stories than the Red Headed League. Or that there was such a thing as calculus.

Christina Seine said...

When I was little, whenever I'd go to my grandparents' house, my grandma would let me play in her makeup/jewelry drawer. Every now and then she'd sneak a little gift in there that I could keep; a pack of gum or something.

So imagine my surprise when I was about five years old when I ate the candy bar left in the drawer for me. Turns out ExLax mint chocolate bars are delicious, but not to be meant eaten all at once.

I did have to go to the hospital, but it all worked itself out in the end.


Stephen G Parks said...

Donnaeve - alright is perfectly acceptable English (informal). Both Oxford English and Merriam-Webster allow it, although M-W adds "The spelling alright is less common than all right and is regarded by some people as an error."

"Alot" however, ain't a word. Not yet anyway. ;-)

RachelErin said...

I read too much as a child.

In fourth someone corrected my pronunciation of "subtle," telling me the "b" is silent. I figured out that there were two different words that meant the same thing, but never appeared on lists of homophones.

Suttle was for conversation.
Subtle was only for writing.

So in dialogue I always wrote "suttle."

I was in college before someone convinced me that they were the same word, and my phonetic spelling was not a homophone that I was smart enough to figure out on my own.

Pronunciation is still my weak point.

Colin Smith said...

Sorry I'm late to the party. I've been finishing up Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. It's only the second video game I've ever completed (the first was Goldeneye--the James Bond game). SecondBorn just about walked me through the entire game, though I did all the actual game play. I'm sure you all would have been quite entertained. "No, Dad go right. RIGHT! Now... hit A. No, put your clawshot away. Get out your arrows... No, target first. TARGET!! And stop cutting the grass!! Remember what happened back in Castle Town? No, that was Hyrule... Castle Town. You know, the town with the castle...?" I'm probably the last person on earth to finish Twilight Princess. But it's good daddy-daughter time. :D

As for being the last person to know something..? I'm sure there have been plenty of things, especially to do with pop culture--at least over the past 10-20 years.

Does it count that I only found out a few years ago that the Assisted Place I was awarded that enabled my parents to afford to send me to one of the oldest and best secondary schools in Herefordshire was granted to me NOT solely on the basis of my parents' income? It seems I had to score within the top 10-15% of applicants in the entrance exam to be considered for the subsidy. All the time I was there, and for over 25 years after, I thought I got in by the skin of my teeth. Most of my classmates came from well-off and well-educated families. My family was somewhere between upper working and lower middle class, and neither of my parents had stayed in school beyond 16 years old. To say I identified with Harry Potter's first day at Hogwarts is an understatement. His fear that someone was going to tell him it had all been a mistake and he would have to leave and go to one of the local Comprehensive schools? Yep. Totally understand.

Would it have made a difference if I'd known? I might have had more confidence, knowing I was there because I was smart enough, not because I somehow managed to scrape through an exam and charm the headmaster at the interview. But not knowing kept me humble. And I like humble. :)

Colin Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donnaeve said...

Oh my Lord, Christina! So funny - and sort of NOT, for you, right???

My kids ate almost a whole bottle of Flintstone vitamins when they were like 3 and 4. Had to take them to the Emergency room where we were supposed to get them to drink this charcoal stuff. Like that was happening. They REEKED of vitamins, and I ultimately think that's what made them get sick.

Stephen, there was so much debate online about those two little words awhile back, it was almost like 2016 had arrived early, horsing for some sort of vote.

Beth H. said...

Donnaeve, I sing "douche" on purpose in that song. It's much funnier than the actual lyrics.

Michael Seese said...

But, regardless of the lyric, he does pronounce it "douche."

Anonymous said...


At least your child didn't take the game away from you. Zelda was the first game I ever tried. After three days of trying to learn how to jump, Will took the game away from me.

"Let me have that game. You're not allowed to play it ever again. It's just too painful to watch."

It may the first time a parent's ever been grounded from video games.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

*ahem* as the native New Jerseyan (and born in Neptune, which is adjacent to Asbury Park), I need to know which "Blinded by the Light" we're referring to. Bruce Springsteen's original, or the Manfred Mann cover (which, mysteriously, got the popular airplay)?

But, for my own contribution, for many of my young years I thought it was "There's a bathroom on the right" (CCR's "Bad Moon Rising").

John Frain said...

kdjames, there's a word for that: Mondegreens, I think. Counting on memory here, but there was an enjoyable book called 'Scuse me while I kiss this guy, a mondegreen of the Jimi Hendrix song.

Okay, I'm revved up like a deuce (an excellent lyric even if you're not a gearhead; thank you, Boss) so I'm running into the night in editing mode.

John Frain said...


So jealous. But I have to tell you a New Jersey tale.

There on business for a few days, I found a T-shirt to bring home to my young daughter, emblazoned with the following (kinda accurate, I thought) statement:

"Welcome to New Jersey.
Now go home."

Anonymous said...

OMG! Thank you, John!! I didn't realize there was a word for it. Etymology is one of my favourite things and this just made me so happy. Yes, these are mondegreens.

Named for the misinterpretation of: Laid him on the green = Lady Mondegreen

The history of it in this wikipedia entry is really interesting:

One explanation for it given in the article is the "wrenchings of nonsense into sense" -- although, in my case, clearly my brain is more interested in finding nonsense where none exists.

But, c'mon. You all have got to admit, the possibility of a BLUE GLASS ARM is fascinating.

John Frain said...

Okay, now that we're safely on the other side of midnight and only three people will read this comment, an admission.

I remembered a couple weeks ago saying to my brother when talking about my car, "This is embarrassing to admit, but I didn't even know that." Fast forward to today's blog post, I tried to remember what "that" was about. So I called my brother.

Him: There's plenty you don't know about cars, you want me to narrow it down to one thing?
Me: I need something that I was the last in the world to figure out.
Him: Too long of a list.
Me: So you can't remember what it was either?
Him: No, but get this - Just learned they call 'em pancakes because they're cakes. Made in a pan.
Me: Wait, what? Are you kidding me? I never knew that.
Him: You're the last. Now everyone knows. [click] (He's from Miami, they're all superstitious about saying "bye.")

So, starting now, my breakfast gonna always be iron waffles.

french sojourn said...

The sphere of knowledge, the more you know, the more you know you don't know.

Marc P said...

@nightmusic 'The Girl on The train' is a viral book. A British woman again... sorry.

nightsmusic said...

@Marc P

I am probably the only one who did not know that!

Brittany Pickett said...

These comments have been great! Bah, Bah Black Sheep is to the same tune too?! Well, you learn something new every day.

I was embarrassed and surprised to learn cow tipping was not real.

LynnRodz said...

Okay, I need to start reading the post carefully before commenting. I have to say my previous comment did not correspond to what you were asking for. Sorry.

I'm the last person in the world to know anything about Star Wars and Harry Potter. I hate to admit it, but I haven't seen any of the films, nor have I read any of the HP books. I'll eventually get around to them, maybe.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

John: my best New Jersey shirt (other than the one that says "Jersey Girl" and the Bruce Springsteen concert ones) is "New Jersey: where the weak are killed and eaten". Funny enough, I got it at the Hospice thrift store here in central New York, for a quarter.

I knew THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN was going to be a good book when I read the blurb in Publisher's Weekly (or was it Library Journal)? It put me in mind of Patricia Highsmith's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN for no good reason, and I lobbied my boss to buy it. We were one of the last libraries in the system to add it, back when the holds list was only about 50 folks total, and now we have thirteen or so copies and the list was 170 when I looked on Saturday. Lots of people make GONE GIRL comparisons, which is and is not an okay parallel to draw, but if you're gonna ride on coattails, I guess you might as well that one.

Ashes said...

That the phrase "make ends meet" wasn't actually "make hen's meat". And, because I do rationalize things like this, I grew up thinking it made sense. If you worked all day and could barely make enough money to make "hen's meat", we'll a gen doesn't provide very much meat so you must be struggling to feed your family.

I legitimately thought this until my first year of university.

D. B. Bates said...

Don't even get me started on butter cows.

I feel like I'm usually the last person to know things lying outside my immediate interests. I like to think my immediate interests are pretty broad, but they don't include (for example) contemporary pop music, reality TV, or celebrity gossip. So I'm always the one getting funny looks because I don't know/care who [insert name] Jenner is, I've still never heard a Justin Bieber song, and I have no idea who's running for President. (Not that I'm unconcerned with politics, but I consider the topic irrelevant until around mid-October of election year.)

I prefer life this way. Take that, Bieber!

Just Christine said...

I was the last to know you didn't need a handicap sticker to use the handicap stall in the public restroom.

Unknown said...

I thought that the term *wind chill factor* was actually *windshield factor*. You know, like how fast the wind hits your car's windshield. Obvs.

Anonymous said...

These have cracked me up!! (yeah, I'm like a week too late to comment. Sorry.)

I grew up in the pre-internet days in a little town in the arse end of Australia. Everything I learned about America was either third-hand preconception, or from TV and movies.
It took me years to learn that the New Jersey Turnpike wasn't one of those metal gate things that people have to walk through one at a time to access to the swimming pool (or New Jersey).
Also years to discover that Connecticut was a place, not some cool thing you do with scissors. (Thanks for leading me astray on that one, Judy Blume!)
And that NYC wasn't known for its apple orchards.
They don't eat Boston Buns in Boston.
And Americans are some of the loveliest, most caring people I've ever met.

P.S. Adele your Civil Rights story cracked me up. I'm with you! Makes sense, right?

Kathie V said...

As a child my parents had a map of the United States. Apparently the map creator had limited space and placed the state of Alaska down south in the pacific near a neighboring country.
In fourth grade I argued with the teacher that Alaska was actually near Mexico and not Canada like she said it was.

I believe I was the last to know. =)