Some things that make me good at my job also make me an asshole.

And that’s okay with me. I’m not talking about the “JETSON! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING!?” asshole, I’m talking about the insufferable know-it-all asshole: “Of course, the switch to ActionScript 3 will be complete once Flash 9 penetration has reached 80%”, I’ll say to a room full of people, mere moments after I’ve completed a conference call in which an Adobe representative has explained to me that the switch to ActionScript 3 will be complete once Flash 9 penetration has reached 80%. Of course, this is a Good Thing for a consultant, and as long as I’m just learning fast, it’s okay if I present it as if it were the most clear, obvious truth that I’ve known all my life.

For a person, though (not a consultant), there’s a special psychological name for this kind of behavior. It’s called “being an asshole.” So I try to keep a lid on it in real life, especially if you’re married to someone who sees right through you (O lucky man, for whom all stratagems are laid bare!)

Anyhow, let me go back to a comment I made earlier about a twelve-yarn Alice Starmore intarsia sweater. Have I picked up the terms “intarsia”, and “Alice Starmore?” Yes, I have. Do I know what they are? Sure; intarsia is that thing where you make pictures with lots of different colors of yarn by SELLING YOUR SOUL TO THE DARK LORD, and Alice Starmore IS that dark prince, to whom hundreds of dollars are sacrificed on eBay. But that’s all; repeating those words is the smell of knowledge, not the knowledge itself.

Now, as for the actual, you know, learning to knit part, so I can make a sweater for my friend Michelle’s baby, due on December 15*, I think my feelings can be best summed up by my good friend and naval officer Archibald Haddock:

Seriously, this stuff is HARD. Disassembling a carburetor is easy compared to knitting; the pieces are all made of metal, and they just kind of sit there, and if you don’t know what you’re doing you can just stare at the pictures in the shop manual for a long time, then move at a snail’s pace. Programming a computer is easy compared to knitting, because if something isn’t working, you just rip out half the code and see if it works now, and you just keep doing that until you find the problem, and then you work backwards from there. Finding the love of your life is easier than knitting, because you’re just doing your thing and then one day OH MY GOD WHO IS THAT? and then it’s just a question of agonizing for four hours over a breezy five-line email, etc. and attempting to sweep her off her feet with your very best dumb jokes. (Fortunately, luck has a lot to do with that.)

I won’t say that raising a child is easier than knitting, but it’s kind of right up there. After all, with a child, you’re supposed to be the boss. With knitting, the YARN is the boss. AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL IT WANTS. Well, yes you do. IT WANTS YOU TO SUFFER.

So I’m about ten rows into a four-inch stockinette swatch, and after every row I have to stand up, clench and unclench my fists, and give the yarn the Double Deuce. And then I hand it to Kate, and she rapidly repairs my mistakes and hands it back to me, and I head Once More Into the Breach. But first, I ask her to explain again to me which way the needles are supposed to point.

Holy, holy shit, ladies. Holy shit. I salute you.

* The baby is due on December 15, not the sweater. Plan B is “a nice hat”, which I’m considering very seriously right now. Hey, it takes a big man to know his limitations. BUT I AM NOT A BIG MAN.

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