My "Who Knew?" Essay for 20×2 10.5

20×2 is an annual event (it started in 2001) at Austin’s SXSW with some “half-year” events in other cities. Each 20×2 event asks 20 presenters to answer the same question through video, song, spoken word or some other form of expression.

Last night, I read the following at the first Chicago 20×2 event co-organized by Andrew Huff and Gapers Block and held at Martyrs’ in North Center. I was blown away by how talented everyone was at 20×2 10.5. It makes me so proud to live in a city that can host a stellar event like this. I’m lucky and honored to be counted in their number.

Each presenter was asked to create a two-minute piece that answered the question “Who Knew?” This was what I read:

This afternoon, my fellow presenter Claire Zulkey and I were discussing what we were going to perform tonight and I said I was still a bit adrift because I’d discarded my initial idea: reading a fictional letter from Who Knew Reputation Management Services, a company hired by a potential candidate for elected office named Ron Wellington. The letter I was reading was the result of their findings. The main reason I’d stuck with the idea for so long was I had what I thought was a great joke about the company flagging a potential trouble spot for Ron Wellington’s campaign: The fact that he’d liked a Facebook page called “Who Wants To See A Picture Of Ron Wellington’s Balls.” And the kicker was he’d created the page himself.

[By the way, if you’re paying attention, you’ve now realized this was just a cheap way to include the balls joke and still discard everything else. I’m sorry, I have a really juvenile sense of humor and I think the word “balls” is hilarious.]

Anyway, I told Claire I was having trouble coming up with an alternate idea and she suggested Googling the phrase “Who Knew” and using that as inspiration. In doing so, I found a book titled Who Knew: A Continuation of You Never Know: A Memoir which I found really impressive because I didn’t realize you could get two colons in a book subtitle.

But in trying to answer the question “Who Knew?” I kept coming back to what initially sounded like a very pompous answer: “I knew.” And by that I meant “I knew the answer to a question even though I pretended like I didn’t.”

For example, when I asked my first wife if she missed me after we’d spent a few days apart and she said “Mmmmm…no, not really,” I didn’t think I knew. But I knew.

Then when I met a woman who liked drinking Maker’s Mark and thought the word “balls” was funny, I knew. I didn’t think I knew. But I knew.

When I was at Metro and felt this really peculiar rumbling in my stomach and wondered if I should leave the show then, instead of waiting it out and hoping for the best, I knew.

Ten minutes later when I was running like hell down Addison and trying to keep from crapping my pants, I really knew.

The point is: The more you try and distract yourself, the more likely it is that you’re avoiding the answer you already know. And it’s an answer that’s as obvious as a joke about Ron Wellington’s balls.

2 comments for “My "Who Knew?" Essay for 20×2 10.5

  1. September 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    I'd be interested in what you “knew” when we were in college. Ah, to be young and stupid again!

  2. September 19, 2010 at 2:25 am

    Yeah, I don't think I “knew” much of anything in college. I was still muddling through.

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