I happen to know that I am very smart. Not bragging, in fact, I have spent most of my life very carefully constructing the illusion that I am not very very smart. “Average with some glimmers of talent” does the trick. I can’t handle a great deal of expectation from other people. Before I pull out the big guns, I need to know that the people around me already think I’m great even if all I can do is stick together the velcro on my shoes.
My son is very smart. I can tell because he thinks about things that dumb kids don’t. He reads at an advanced level, and even though “Math is stupid”, he’s actually really good with numbers and concepts. And like I used to, he worries a great deal about things outside his influence. And he has some quirks that make it difficult to hang out with the sheep and not stand out. Whether or not he comes to the realization that his quirks make him extraordinary, and that there are already enough sheep- he doesn’t need to be one- will give us a true measure of how smart he is.
My husband is very smart. His problem solving skills are off the map. He can figure out anything he needs to. If he woke up tomorrow and wanted to be a theoretical physicist, he could probably just show up and start being a theoretical physicist. But when he’s wrong, oh lord, is he ever wrong. Comes with being smart without ever being challenged. Some days, I’m convinced despite evidence to the contrary that I am married to a high-functioning autistic or even an all out Idiot Savant. He can spend an afternoon inspecting the wiring in a new 15000 square foot building, and come home and draw up the panel diagram and label every circuit from memory. He plays Sudoku puzzles that start with 3 numbers. He can remember the cast, plot, film location, theme song, etc. for every Bond movie ever made, and can do the same for just about every other movie he’s ever watched.
But despite all the superficial advantages to being very smart, it generally comes with being very awkward, very neurotic, and very very stupid when it comes to simple things.
Intelligence in the real world can’t be measured on an up and down scale, or a curve. It’s a circle. Up and around from really stupid to kinda stupid, the top of the circle is “Average”, and the smarter and smarter you get, the closer and closer you get to really stupid again.
I live in a house full of really smart retards (myself included). I’m afraid of opening mail and talking to strangers on the phone, and I can’t figure out how to set up our computers on a home network. My son still thinks if he comes down the stairs and gets to the table fast enough, I won’t notice he’s wearing sweatpants stained from last nights dinner, and my darling husband can’t seem to remember to empty the old coffee from the carafe before using the sprayer from the sink to fill the machine so when it turns on in the morning it makes half a pot on the counter and builds up under the heat element.
Being smart sometimes has no advantage other than the ability to recognize everything that’s wrong with the world and the people in it, and knowing there’s not a bloody thing to be done about it. And having all that racket in your head distracts you from being able to function, perform simple tasks, or get along with anyone.
There are days, like today, when all the most super special malfunctions are in full swing by 7 am, I go back to fantasizing about home-lobotomy kits and repeated sharp blows to the head and possibly drinking to wet-brain. I could stand to spend a day or a thousand gibbering in a corner and not having to think about anything at all. I could cheerfully slurp the coffee off the counter with my mouth. I could throw an open can of ravioli in the wash with the kid’s clothes. I could use the unopened mail to paper over the windows so nobody could see I had 92 cats and a monkey.
Yep. Rusty ice pick, frying pan and a bottle or ten of rye… Sounds like a brilliant plan to me.