This is a story about I-don’t-know.
It is never a tedious thing to speak of Werther Armand’s childhood nastiness. A spoiled little brat without maternal discipline was always 120% ready to try his fearless tricks and walk away (like a man). One day, he saw a picture of a supermodel with a bunch of tulips stuffed in her cleavage with a slogan– Love me, not my tulip. He thought that hot girls loved flowers. (Years later, he learnt that it was a perfume commercial.) So, he went straightly to the kindergarten’s garden to pick up some and wandered in the downtown with colorful flowers in his little hands. He gave a flower to whoever resembling the supermodel in the picture expecting one of them would hold his little hand back to the kindergarten. (All poor greedy men want immediate return from their trivial investment.) Of course, except a big smile twittering how cute and sweet a small stranger was, what more could he get from twenty something women as a 4-year-old kid? He returned to the kindergarten with disappointment. What awaited him there was his class mistress with a long face pointing at the destroyed garden:
“Did you do it? You are in trouble now!”, said the young woman in a furious tone.
“It wasn’t me, I have nothing to do with this… it was… it was… I don’t know…”, Werther Armand answered with his trembling voice and crystal eyes.
Since the birth of my nephew a few years ago, I have been rediscovering many interesting things about children. Normally, they do not deny an accusation with I-don’t-know. They either pass the buck to the others or say, “it isn’t me,” then cry. (yeah, it reminds you of your childhood, hein?) I-don’t-know does not belong to early infanthood, it is purely an adulthood thing. Here comes the question. We must have learnt to use this expression somewhere in our timeline. Nonetheless, if it did not exist in the very first place, how could we learn to say I-don’t-know?
Questioning the origin of I-don’t-know is like a kid asking his mother naïvely with the eyes of puss-in-boots, “where do I come from, mommy?” Wait! Not exactly, it only applies to kids with parents. But, who are the parents of I-don’t-know? I-know? I-am-not sure? I-am-sure? Oh no, it’s getting complicated… What do we call those children without parents? Yes, orphan! I-don’t-know is an orphan. It either lost his parents in some war or disaster, probably it is just an unwanted kid so it is not raised as an expression with a proper meaning!
Always I just find it helpless to react when I am told I-don’t-know. I desperately look for an antidote to counter its attack but my attempts are in vain. What kind of response is it? I-don’t-know itself does not know what it stands either. Is it a sugarcoat embracing something bitter inside or an excuse to gain more time for an accurate response? I don’t know:
Walking along the corridor with the young mistress seizing his left ear, Werther Armand entered the kindergarten principal’s office. The principal and the class mistress opened his backpack to search for evidence of his crime. Since the flowers were given to the young women in the downtown, they could only find that picture of the tulip supermodel. After a while, the principal, having pacified slightly her shock, said calmly,
“Hey, you said that you had no idea about the garden. Could you tell me something about this picture then? Why is it in your backpack?”
Little Werther Armand answered again with his puss-in-boots eyes, “I don’t know, but I am sure that we can cut the tulips of this picture and put them in the garden. I will irrigate them every morning.”
I believe that we always know something even when our reaction is I-don’t-know. The cuteness of I-don’t-know lies in its ambiguity. It brings hope to desperation.
Bye for now, see you next blog!