Yeah, that’s right, I’m talking about you, dummy

You’re probably a complete idiot.

Or if not, then I’ll bet you’re a dummy.

And before you pretend to be offended by my pointing it out so bluntly, first check your bookshelves, because there’s a good chance you’ll find a confession sitting there to prove that I’m right.

That’s because the “Complete Idiot” books series and the “For Dummies” series are among the best-selling books in America. If you own just one book on computers or technology, for example, chances are it’s one of these.

But even if you’re a computer whiz, I have faith in you — you’re probably a complete idiot or a dummy when it comes to plenty of other things. Your bookshelf doesn’t lie.

Both series began in the early 1990s with titles that helped readers figure out the complexities that computers were newly bringing into our lives, and most everyone felt comfortable admitting that we were idiots and dummies when it came to newfangled contraptions like computers. There was no shame in that, because we all felt like a moron the first time we sat down at a computer.

But since then both series have fanned out into every topic imaginable. Between the Idiots and Dummies series, hundreds of millions of copies have been sold with literally thousands of guides to different subjects. The Dummies series alone claims more than 200 million sales on more than 2,700 titles.

Because — admit it — when it comes to certain topics, you’re a complete idiot. Or at least a dummy, right?

Witchcraft? Beekeeping? Menopause?

They’ve got a guide for complete idiots just like you.

The Bible? Pet psychic communication? Alchemy?

It’s all there for you, dummy.

You can learn to do a lot of things from them. String them together in batches if you’ve got a big project in mind. If you’ve ever wanted to hypnotize your husband into home canning while ballroom dancing, you’re only three books away from your dream.

Or, if your hubby catches on to your devious plot, you’re only three more guides away from surviving divorce, moving, and living alone.

They even have Complete Idiot and Dummy guides to raising your self-esteem — surely a best seller, because a bright orange or yellow cover screaming out that you’re an idiot or a dummy would be a magnet for someone with low self-esteem, right? Still, if that book succeeded in raising your self-image to the point that you stop thinking of yourself as an idiot or a dummy, it would probably hurt future sales of other books.

But then, they probably have a Complete Idiot’s Guide to Irony, so it all balances out.

There’s a Complete Idiot’s Guide for Teens — though most teens don’t really need much help in the idiot department.

And there’s even a Complete Idoit’s Guide for Dumies, which, judging by the title alone, seems to be the gold standard.

So, judging by the extensiveness of their catalogs and the volume of their sales, I feel safe in my assertion that you’re probably a self-confessed complete idiot, or a dummy, or both.

I’d like to claim superiority over you in matters like this, but I just found one Complete Idiot book and one Dummy book on my own bookshelves, though I don’t remember buying either one of them. And as sad as that admission is, I also have to admit that I still don’t know how to play piano…in Spanish (or in any other language, for that matter.)

Maybe there’s a book for complete idiots who are such dummies that they pay good money for books they don’t get around to reading.

In any case, it’s a wonder that so many of us are so quick to admit that we are complete idiots or dummies that booksellers can drive a whole industry from it, and put our intellectual shortcomings right there in the title for anyone else to see. It’s a sign of how little respect we have for our own intelligence that we willingly embrace that kind of abuse.

Still, I can’t help but wonder why our intelligence is the only target for guides like these. There is so much more to each of us than just our intelligence, right? We all know smart people with plenty of character flaws in other areas.

So why do these guides only target our intellect — which we all seem willing enough to admit is substandard — while ignoring all those other human attributes that make us who we are?

And if they did, would we be willing to embrace their insults and buy the book?

Probably not, because although we are quick to smile at our own dummy/idiot intelligence, we imagine ourselves to be paragons of almost every other quality. We wouldn’t tolerate anyone calling us out on them, and we certainly wouldn’t spend money on a book that did it.

For example, you would never buy a book that calls your honesty into question, would you? That’s why you’ll never see the Total Liar’s Guide to Income Tax Preparation.

And you would never buy a book that throws shade on your morality, would you? Don’t even bother scanning the shelves for a title like Quilting for Sluts.

So for now, when it comes to admitting our total ignorance regarding pet psychic communication or the power of the enneagram (whatever that is), we complete idiots and dummies can find all the help we need at the local bookstore.

Sorry, but you liars and sluts are on your own.

Author, musician and storyteller TR Kerth is a retired teacher who has lived in Sun City Huntley since 2003. Contact him at trkerth@yahoo.com. Can’t wait for your next visit to Planet Kerth? Then get TR’s book, “Revenge of the Sardines,” available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online book distributors.

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