I didn’t know exactly, so I did what I usually do, which is to piece together the bits of information I do know about coal and tar and try to fudge an answer. As is also common (and one of the things I love about my husband) this turned into a discussion about how coal and oil are formed and if all living things are carbon based. But it still didn’t answer the original question about coal tar.
I decided that I’d look it up when we got home, but something else came up and I got busy and so I never did get my answer, and neither did my husband. It occurred to me that if I had children, I’d have found an answer. I’d have done the research until I could give them a good explanation. So I wonder, am I missing an education because I don’t have kids? Or am I just missing my re-education?
I used to know about a lot of things. I could identify birds, knew the names of all the dinosaurs, and knew which color paints to mix to make the colors I didn’t have. I knew how to French knit, do a cat’s cradle, and build a model theatre out of cereal boxes. I also learned most of the periodic table and could list all the kings and queens of England in historical order. And I used to know the difference between how coal and oil are formed. But now I just can’t exactly remember. If I had kids, I’d have to learn all that stuff again and I’d be glad to.
I realize that this isn’t life-saving information I’m missing, but it would be nice to be able to pop out in conversation that Edward VI was Henry VIII’s son and heir, and that coal tar is a by-product of converting coal into coke.