Will Rogers defined an expert as a man fifty miles from home with a briefcase, while Mark Twain said it was an ordinary person from another town. Regardless of the definition you choose, I am no expert. I can’t imagine ever considering myself an expert, and I’m frankly confounded when I hear anyone describe themselves as one – an expert, that is. I’ve even heard-tell of folks who have moved on to “other wars” because they’ve learned just about all they can learn about the Civil War. Come on, get real. You’re bored, you need a new challenge, a change of pace, I get it. But spare me the “my work is done here” stuff. Unless your specialty is percussion caps used on Burnside breech loaders or something similarly obscure, I ain’t buyin’ it.
I realize that event organizers are going to use the E word in promotional materials. But I want to make one thing perfectly clear – I don’t consider myself an expert on the Civil War or even the First Battle of Bull Run. I’m confident I have readers who have studied the war and the battle for a longer period and in greater detail than have I. [That being said, I can still entertain a room for an hour or two without boring the heck out of everybody (there are always exceptions) and pretty much guarantee that anyone who stays awake the whole time will learn something they didn’t know before, so don’t let my admission deter you from booking me, Danno.]
I know there’s a real definition of “expert” and it doesn’t mean “knows everything”, but you know what the word connotes, and you know what I mean by this. I don’t mind so much when others call someone an expert, but it bugs the hell out of me when I hear people refer to themselves as one.
There. I just needed to get that off my chest. As always, you’re free to be wr…I mean, you’re free to disagree. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.