I remember a big fuss over how smart I supposedly was at around the age of nine or ten and the fact that the hoopla has died down considerably since then doesn’t diminish the sweet memory of the false sense of superiority it gave me at the time.
I was in the fourth grade and it all started with my teacher telling my mom that I was reading at an eleventh grade level. We quickly rushed out and had my IQ tested and when the results came back that it was 163 my mom devoured the news like it was a chocolate filled donut after being on a diet for months for a guy who just took his secretary, his fucking secretary, to Hawaii with him and had the nerve to tell her, just like that, about it. She held onto that 163 like it was a tangible thing that she could hold onto and maybe eat, because fuck that bastard and his slut secretary.
When we’d see old friends or meet new people it was the one thing she’d mention in the overly zealous way that Kato Kaelin used to drop his address, at least until all the unpleasantness. She’d say things like, “It’s been in the 70’s all week. Which reminds me, my son’s IQ is 163.” Or, “I’m so sorry to hear your brother died, my son’s IQ is 163.” She was never the family newsletter type but I’m pretty sure she found a way to add that magic number to Christmas cards and tax returns.
I was smart enough to figure out that I could get away with murder, at least for the moment; I wasn’t shooting bottle rockets at kids I hated on the street, I was testing aerodynamic propulsion theory, and when I accidentally set the school bathroom on fire, or got marbles stuck up my nose, well, she might not be able to explain why I did what I did but I was smart as a whip and that was good enough.
The 163 always felt heavy and oppressive, even dangerous, like enhanced uranium in the hands of country without proper sewage treatment. Still, I enjoyed the benefits. When I was in Jr High I’d barely have to study or show up and I’d manage A’s and B’s. It was then that I developed the atrocious habits and lack of focus that would have a far greater effect on my life than that ridiculous number.
About the time I discovered alcohol and drugs and the girls to do them with, my grades had started to plummet. When I actually put effort into math by only smoking one joint before class every day and found myself still struggling, the truth began to set in. I’d known from the start that there was something inherently wrong with a system that called me smart. I barely had object permanence awareness. I never even missed the X, much less was able to solve for it. But I’d eat the shit out of some X when you put it within reach.
As I grew older, people gradually stopped using words like brilliant or genius to describe me. Even my mother was surprisingly mute on the subject. By that time I was just the idiot who fell through the glass coffee table or the moron who set the bathroom on fire, again.
When Karen and I both took the test again, albeit online, I wasn’t even surprised when she scored a 162 and I’d dropped to 160. I wasn’t surprised because the test is flawed. This is a woman who can watch a movie or read a book for the first time every week. She has no short term memory (despite never indulging in vice the way I have) and little reasoning skills. She can perform her accounting duties at CPA level but can’t remember if she’s supposed to take 3 or 5 Tylenol for a headache or how to order lunchmeat at the deli. When she distrusts someone she’ll say that they have “an interior motive.” When I ask her if she’s ‘lost her words’ again, she’ll invariably say, “exterior… Right?”
I’m not one to point fingers either. I couldn’t put together an IKEA coffee table (to replace the one I fell through) if you gave me directions and a sharp turning stick. –I’m being told that I’m referencing a screwdriver.
I’m not sure whether it was all the partying or an undiagnosed case of ADD but I know now that I’m nothing special. Sometimes when I’m feeling inadequate or insecure I’ll tell people that I have a monster IQ and that I could really be ‘doing something’ but I no longer buy into my own bullshit. Whatever it does mean, it doesn’t fucking translate to my beautiful mind.