Monday, September 10, 2012

How Smart I Am

Several years ago I briefly dated a woman who liked to show others how smart she was, because she was.  I remember once mentioning that T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was one of my favorite poems, and she quoted, in Italian, the section Eliot chose from Dante's Inferno to begin his lamentations. Then she quoted the translation.

Since then, I have valued both phrases and situations that allow me to demonstrate my smartness.  And so the members of the small group of writers that, for the past three or four years, has met at my house once a month to read and critique what we're working on,   decided to each list 15 ways to prove how intelligent we are. Here's a sample:
  1. "It wasn’t until I actually traveled to Azerbaijan that I realized just how funny their jokes are!"
  2. If someone refers to a beloved book by a favorite author, say, "That's really one of his lesser works.  You must read..."
  3. Parlay your 15 minutes of fame into 15 hours.
  4. When on a hike, tell everyone you are an expert on wild mushrooms and encourage them to pick and eat.
  5. If someone mentions numbers, do mathematical calculations in your head and incorporate  them into your response. ("I saw two rabbits in the yard today!"  "Goodness, at the rate they multiply, by the end of the year, you could have 856!")
  6. Create a list of 15 ways to show people how smart you are, and include 16 items, because you're just that smart.
  7. Intently study a dog's posture, then comment, "Look at what he's saying! Remarkable, don't you think?"  Then add, "And they say dogs are incapable of abstract thought!"
  8. When speaking to foreigners, point out how much you know about their country, and how fortunate they are to be living here now.
  9. As you search for a word, bring in as many languages as possible. "In Punjabi, that's..."
  10.  With a great sigh, say, "What do we know? What does any of us know?"
  11. Go to St Ives 15 times and each time meet a man with 15 wives, and meet the wives who each carry 15 sacks, and open the sacks to see 15 cats, and observe that the cats have 15 kittens, and each kitten wears 15 collars, and each collar has 15 bells, then tell the man how many are going to St. Ives.
  12. When writing a novel, introduce eight new characters in the last 40 pages to demonstrate the control you have over plot.
  13. When referring to something low-brow, apologize profusely about what led you to know about the subject. "As I saw in the National Enquirer, which I was perusing for my online American Studies course..."
  14. Move your lips while you read and say you like to taste words.
  15. Stare glumly out the window at the rain and say, "On days like these, I know exactly how Wittgenstein felt..."
Feel free to add your own!


1 comment:

  1. Love this one! I have a friend who is compelled to mention "those years at Harvard" at least once in every conversation. The smart thing about this, however, is that "those years" were decades ago, but she is still capable of relating them to any conversation on any topic.