streetcar #1 daughter, La Bella, Egypt, another friend, and I went to see the University production of A Streetcar Named Desire this weekend.

Five reasonably worldly women, ages 30 to 73, most with university degrees, and none of us knew how it ended.

This struck me during the intermission. I knew the last line of the play, of course, and I had seen the film clip of Marlon Brando calling “Stella!” I knew that the play was at least in some sense about mental illness and I was pretty sure there wouldn’t be a happy ending, though at intermission it seemed possible. We just didn’t know.

It makes you wonder about common knowledge. “Wonder” may be the wrong word. You’ll see, if you click on that link, that I have thought about this subject pretty extensively over the years, certainly enough to come to some conclusions, but I still find it interesting. I think I would have said without hesitation that this play was part of our common cultural knowledge. Everybody knows the title of it, knows about its existence, gets jokes that use the name of it, and presumably thinks of it every time they take a streetcar in New Orleans (well, maybe not if they live on the Desire line; you’d move on after a while). So how was it that none of us had ever actually seen it?

Perhaps it’s the same thing that keeps us from going to our local tourist attractions unless we have out of town visitors. Something so ubiquitous doesn’t give you a sense of urgency — it’ll always be there when you’re ready to see it.

We enjoyed it.

Today I have three meetings, and I will try to enjoy that. I was planning to go to the gym, but it is snowing right now, so I think it is a Wii Fit day for me instead. Three meetings and driving in the snow is just about the definition of a bad day for me, so I am hoping the snow will stop.