Listen to Mary Gordon by clicking this MP3 file link.
If only they would understand.
Im talking about experts who are called upon daily to enlighten us. From professors to pundits, snake charmers to surgeonsask them a question, and chances are they reply, What you need to understand
In the olden days (which I figure is any time before 2000) when news interviewers asked questions, experts answered them outright. Heres the way it might have gone on National Public Radios Morning Edition before the turn of the century:
BOB EDWARDS: Tell us how you started writing songs, Mr. Nelson.
WILLIE NELSON: Well, Bob, I sat down in a chair, picked up a pencil and started scribbling on the back of a ketchup-soaked napkin.
If you listen to Morning Edition these days, youre likely to hear this scenario: RENEE MONTAGNE: Doctor Healer, tell us about the breakthrough medical procedure that helps millions of arthritis suffers.
DR. HEALER: First, Renee, what you need to understand is that the hip bones connected to the thigh bone; the thigh bones connected to the knee bone
Its not only the so-called experts who have perpetuated WYNTU. (I made up that name myselfits pronounced WIN-tu.) WYNTU occurs in everyday conversations as people try to convince their friends and colleagues to think as they do.
NOTE: For generations, teenagers have proclaimed that their parents dont understand them. Its actually helpful that todays parents know about WYNTU.
TEENAGER: Mother, Ive already explained why I drove your new BMW to practice without permission. You just dont understand me.
MOTHER: What you need to understand, Alyssa, is that youre grounded for 10 years.
Ive been researching the WYNTU phenomenon, and although its less-than-scientific, Im standing by my results:
Since there could be a few folks who are skeptical about my research, I went the extra mile to ensure its validity: I interviewed my neighbor, John Kelso, an Austin American-Statesman (alleged) humor columnist.
MGS: Mr. Kelso, why do people, when asked a question, begin their answers with what you need to understand?
JOHN KELSO: Those people just want to make themselves sound educated.
(And then Kelso added the most plausible explanation of all.)
What you need to understand is that this is a bunch of [expletive deleted]
I couldnt have said it better myself.