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"I don't know" can save your life

Updated on June 13, 2012

When this lovely girls says, "I don't know"

she gets to "go home free." "I don't know," is the easiest thing to say when we are facing trouble.
she gets to "go home free." "I don't know," is the easiest thing to say when we are facing trouble.


was a versatile actor. I remember well his role as a "martian," with a young Bill Bixby on an early CBS hit called, "My Favorite Martian," and I loved how he maneuvered his way out of many things that human life hit him with while living with "Tim," played by Bixby.

Walston also scored huge points in popularity as "J.J. Singleton," a professional con-man in the super-hit, "The Sting," with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Walton's role, "Singleton," was the man calling all of the horseraces at the "gambling den," set-up by Paul "Henry Gondorff" Newman and Robert "Johnny Hooker" Redford to con an arrogant banker, "Doyle Lonnegan," played by veteran actor, Robert Shaw, who also made his mark in another little film called, "Jaws,"as "Quint," the salty old fisherman who was after the great white who was devouring everyone in sight on the beach set in the movie.

Why did I go to all of that trouble in telling you about Ray Walston and Robert Shaw? Oh, now I recall. Ray Walston, as you well remember, appeared in now what is a "cult classic," "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Sean Penn and Phoebe Cates. But Walston wowed audiences with his portrayal of "Mr. Hand," the school's paranoid history teacher and in one scene he confronts Sean Penn's character, "Jeff Spicoli," for not having his homework. "Why do you not have your homework, Mr. Spicoli?" storms Mr. Hand. "Uhhh, I don't know," says Spicoli, and that one remark sets off "Mr. Hand's" tirade about the phrase, "I don't know," and how it can be used for all types of situations where we can "get out of jail free," for simply looking dumb and saying, "I don't know."

Feeling lost? Confused? Dumbfounded?

Hey, don't sweat it. These traits can easily get you out of most any spot.
Hey, don't sweat it. These traits can easily get you out of most any spot.

How to look "confused"



in advising "Spicoli," about this sometimes under-appreciated phrase we all have said at one time or the other, "I don't know." Ahhh, how magical that phrase can be. Elizabeth "Samantha Stephens" Montgomery of "Bewitched," cannot "bring our lunch," with her witchcraft when we finally decide to stop being bullied, run-over and used for a "welcome" mat on someone's front stoop and say, "I don't know," and walk away smiling.


  • "I simply don't know."
  • "I wish I knew"
  • "Does anyone know?"
  • "Oh how I wish I knew"
  • "I used to know"

And all of your grammar courses you took in school never taught you that "I don't know," is more than just a confession of personal ignorance. Wow. Good thing I took it upon myself on this beautiful afternoon to have some "home schooling" about how to use "I don't know," and when to use "I don't know."

"I don't know" is not to be used lightly. Say like using Mennen deodorant (if you're a guy) or Secret deodorant (if you are a chick) when you go out in public. This, ladies and gentlemen is a powerful phrase. Simple in framework, but oh so liberating when used against almost any adversary real or imaginary.

ONLY A WISE PERSON can fully-grasp the untapped power of this cute, sometimes-obscure-from-sight, phrase, "I don't know." It is similar to finding a daffodil in a briar patch. Rare, valuable and great to have on-hand in case of trouble.

"I DON'T KNOW" is not a respecter of race, ethic origin or NFL affiliation. This simply means that anyone, anywhere at any time, if they know how to use this phrase, can execute it and find themselves free of all panic, false accusations and arrests in some cases. You see, whomever engineered this piece of truly powerful English grammar, had mankind at large, in mind.

CAN "I" USE "I DON'T KNOW" anytime I like? Not advisable. Only when needed. Please see it my way. Pretend that "I don't know" is your grammatical-ammunition that you keep in your "gun belt," like old-time Western gunmen and when needed, you can be "quick on the draw," and use an "I don't know," win your battle and still have plenty left for another fight. If you use "I don't know" all of the time, people around you will "really" think that you really don't know anything, and I cannot have that on my conscience. I want my pupils to excel in the world. And be free of all that useless red tape and unwanted rules that make our lives miserable.


TRAFFIC COP STOPS YOU FOR SPEEDING "Sir, did you know you were going 75 in a 55 zone?" You look dumb right on cue and say, "Uhhh, no sir! I was not aware of that, Mr. Officer. Uhhh, what day is it? Are you gonna write me a big ticket?" Now the officer feels a twinge of pity and says, "I'm letting ya' off with just a warning this time, but slow it down," all because you "didn't know" you were speeding. See how easy this works?

CASHIER AT GROCERY STORE "Hmmm, well I see you are twenty-bucks short? How do you intend on paying for this fresh rump roast?" Your eyes glaze-over. You mumble to yourself. Then say, "Errr, I don't really know, miss," and see how crafty you were in throwing that "really" into the phrase? "Well, sir, the line is backing-up, so listen. I will make up the difference. You can pay me back next time you are here," says this nice cashier. And you are soon enjoying a delicious rump roast with baby potatoes, green beans, baked potatoes and enjoying an evening with the wife.

YOUR ACCOUNTANT AT TAX TIME "Bill, looks to me like you have over four-thousand dollars in charity donations. Is that right?" Now you look into space for a minute. Your accountant repeats himself, "Bill? I say, is this right?" Now you make your play. "Uhhh, yeah. I guess. Aw heck, I wish I knew," and your C.P.A. replies, "Poor man, you must be under a lot of stress at work. I think I can make this four thousand in charitable deductions work." And you leave his office a richer man.

WHEN AN I.R.S. AGENT ASKS YOU "Mr. Buddastock, did you really claim this four thousand dollars in charitable donations?" Now you shed "crocodile tears," wring your hands, and say with a tremble in your voice, "Mr. I.R.S. man, I don't know. It was all too complicated. Sorry. I was confused," and he sees that you are scared and replies, "Oh, now that's not much. I will adjust it for you. This time, but pay more attention next tax-filing time." And I appreciate you bringing up the "big guns," with that "I was confused," to go along with the standard, "I don't know." Nice move.

YOUR WIFE WHEN YOU FORGET HER BIRTHDAY "You what? Forgot? Didn't you once think this morning at breakfast what today was?" You "act" hurt. Stare at floor for a good five minutes. Then state to the wife, "Hun, I just don't know." "I wish I knew what to say, but I just don't know." Nice "triple whammy" you used, but hey, it worked. Your wife is settled and replies, "Well, at least you are not like Bob, he lies to his wife. You are honest about your ignorance." See, buddy. And you thought you were facing a firing squad.

YOUR WIFE AGAIN WHEN YOU ARE LATE to visit her parents who came to eat with you. "Hun, don't you know what time it is?" Okay. You are now a veteran of many unwanted, annoying questions, so you casually answer, "No, not really. I don't know. Seriously," Wow, what a move you put on her. The "not really," and that "seriously," taught her to jump on you in front of her folks. Actually you were fully-aware of the time, but your "beer buzz," was so mellow with your buddies at "Gary Jim's Beer Den," that you just enjoyed the selfish self that you are.


"HUHH?" said with sudden-surprise, can help you get out of the simple tight spots that life can throw at you such as, your babysitter says to you, "Sir, you are ten dollars short on my pay," "Huhh?" you reply looking very dumbfounded. "Ohhh, never mind, sir. I will get it next week," says your sweet babysitter who thought that she had offended you by pointing-out your "error," which was really not an error, but a calculated savings to you.

"WHATTT?!!!! when used with a dose of a smidgen of anger and shock can really free you to do what you want. Your wife says to you as you leave for a golf match, "Aren't you forgetting that today is when we visit my folks?" You stop suddenly. WIDEN YOUR EYES. This is key. Then say, "whaattt???" Now you sound as if your wife has called you an idiot and she is now feeling remorse and says, "Aww, go on and play golf. You sound like you need something to ease the tension, " just by using one word: "Whaat?"

"PARDON?" this is probably "the Cadillac" of one-word "Freedom Phrases," we can use. Say that you are in a hurry at the grocery store. You need to get this grocery list filled and get home for "the big game," on television. The line at the cashier is stacked so deep that it will take you days to get home. So you wait until just the right moment when a customer isn't looking and fast as a gazelle, you smoothly run ahead of them. Now in today's sensitive society, hardly anyone wants any trouble, so the customer carefully asks, "excuse me, sir, but I believe that you ran in front of me," you simply look them straight in the eyes and say, "pardon?" "you ran ahead of me sir," they repeat. "pardon?" you say again. Now they will either call the manager or just give up to their own lack of judgement. In case they do call the manager, let them tell their side of the story and the manager will ask, "what do you have to say for yourself?" Same thing you said to the frustrated customer, "pardon?" The manager is now equally-confused. And insists that you go ahead and get checked-out. You make it in plenty of time to watch Ohio State and Michigan play their annual rivalry game.

And now if your wife walks into the den and catches you reading my story and says, "you reading that Kenneth Avery's hubs again?"

You know what to say.


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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Ms Dora,

      Thank you, dear friend, for your sweet comment. YOU and catgypsy, be my guest. Use I DONT KNOW all you want to and I hope it helps keep trouble out of your pathway!


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear catgypsy . . ."I dont know" if you can use this one more or not. I will have to get written permission from the "I Don't Know Legal Team," who governs this phrase and "I dont know" their address. LOL!


      PS even this phrase works in a joke.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Giselle,

      Thank you very MUCH, dear Giselle. Your words mean a lot to me. They do. I feel like writing some more today. Giselle, you have a good day and enjoy life. That would make me happy.

      Your pal,


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      alyessamoore . . .art. I do not have PhotoShop downloaded. And thank you for asking. And why dont you become one of my followers? That way I could keep up with your hubs and what you talk about? Have a great day!


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, Mr. Happy,

      Thank you, kind sir, for your comments that I relish. I appreciate your kind spirit. And yes, only use "I dont know" with wisdom. If used up, then you are in trouble. But knowing you through your comments, Im sure you will do the wise thing and conserve.


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      tsmog, does an "imaginary" wife accuse her "imaginary" husband of "imaginary" affairs? Hmmm. Why dont you write a hub about this? I mean that. Imaginary is a second-cousin of "I don't know," and think of the uses of "imaginary," that we could put in motion in our lives. I beg you. Write it.


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, daskittlez . . .LOL, what a witty comment. Thanks. I appreciate humor at 10:36 a.m. every morning. By this time my meds for Fibromyalgia and Neurothopy are kicking and I feel like laughing. Thanks for helping.


    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for the inside scoop on this phrase. I think that I will use it more often. Good job!

    • catgypsy profile image


      6 years ago from the South

      Kenneth, so funny! I'm going to have to use this one more!

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 

      6 years ago

      Hilarious! I think this is one of your best hubs so far, and they all really really great.

    • alyessamoore profile image


      6 years ago from Miami

      Why there are so many scratches on her face. or this is a art ?? or pic?? or Photoshop??

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      CAN "I" USE "I DON'T KNOW" anytime I like? Not advisable - Haha!! I found this funny. I see what You're saying: chose your battles wisely.

      I cannot say that I like to deceive but I can not only accept things as true but also as necessary.

      "TRAFFIC COP STOPS YOU FOR SPEEDING " - I like using Hunter S. Thompson's line from 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas": "Yes, I know I'm a criminal." It is what it is ... I'm always flying and making my own rules. I love driving ... an addiction I am not sure if I want to let go of yet.

      Fun read. You have a lovely imagination. Cheers!

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 

      6 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Imaginary wife walks in, audibly I say, "huh?" Gotcha' I did get checked out too, gotcha' again. Just having fun. What an awesome hub! The whole time reading it I was thinking 'hard' about the day. Very well written, a great presentation, highly recommended, and a very thought provoking image of reflection. Thank you for sharing and vice-versa.


    • daskittlez69 profile image


      6 years ago from midwest

      lol, thanks for the hub. "I don't know" if I have ever read one like it before.


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