Smarts


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He stood at the condiment bar and shouted into his phone.

What the fuck are you talking about? He screeched. Who the fuck told you you were smart? I’m the smart one in the family. I’m the fucking smart one. You’re not fucking smart. I’m the fucking smart one.

Caramelized honey latte, sir? I asked. I slid the cup toward him.

He looked up and gave me the friendliest smile I’d seen all day.

Sure! Thanks!

His voice was so jolly it made my teeth hurt. He took the drink from me and then turned back into his phone.

I’m the fucking smart one. Not you. Not the FUCK you.

I stared at him. He put some sugar in his already sweet drink.

No, he said. No, no, no. Fucking NO! FUCKING NO.

He walked away.

I kept staring.

And I wondered…

What could the other person have possibly said?

I’m assuming it was his brother that he was talking to. Did he call up and say hey brother, guess what? The IQ test came in and… well,, it’s 215. I’m a genius.

The man on the phone, the smart one in the family, probably took this really hard.

When he and all of his siblings came out of Mom, she had labeled them all. She had lined them up in a row and pointed to them, one at a time, and said to anyone around exactly what she thought they would be when they got older.

That’s the smart one, Mom said when the smart one came out.

This one’s the pretty one.

This one’s the dumb one.

This one’s the athletic one.

But this one? The first one? That’s right. He’s my special boy. He’s the smart one.

His whole life the smart one lived in the shadow of his mothers fateful pronouncement. He learned to talk first and it made him seem smarter than his babbling siblings. He walked while his kindred were still crawling around on the floor like slugs. He pooped in the toilet while brothers and sisters pooped their diapers and cried about it.

He was the smart one.

He wasn’t good at sports but that was okay because he was the smart one. He let go of the bat when he swung it, his footballs flopped out of his arms like drunk bananas when he threw them, and he considered it in the hoop if he hit the backboard with his basketball but all of this was fine because he wasn’t the athletic one, he was the smart one.

He wasn’t good at school but that was okay because he was just too advanced for his classes. The other dumb-dumbs held him back. Especially his brother the dumb one. Mom got him in the advanced program later that year, where he barely managed to advance to each grade.

Each time.

He was an alternate on the scholar bowl team. Mom couldn’t explain away that one. She didn’t try to. She just told everyone he was on the team and left it at that, and when they won the county championship she told anyone who would listen that it was the smart one’s doing.

It wasn’t, though.

But they probably didn’t know that.

The smart one didn’t get into the Ivy league. He went to State and eventually failed out. Mom didn’t say anything this time.

She didn’t say anything because she was in the hospital. Again.

Cancer’s a bitch.

The smart one took care of her as his siblings graduated college one by one, especially the dumb one. They all silently enjoyed the schadenfreude of the smart one’s fall from grace. They pursued careers while the smart one held his mothers hand as she lay in the hospital bed and told her it’s okay, mama. The smart one’s here. The smart one’s here for you. Tell me what you need.

She couldn’t articulate it half the time. She couldn’t remember him half the time. In the back of her eyes, though, in the back of her eyes the smart one saw the old fire of the woman who named all of her kids smart, dumb athletic and pretty when they were born, and goddamn it, she was right.

She had to have been right.

The dumb one got his novel published a week before Mom died. He called to tell her, but she was asleep and the smart one didn’t relay the message when she woke up.

The smart one was there with her the whole time. He had taken a part time job as the guy who takes parking tickets at the hospital so he could always be close.

He was with her at 2:38 AM when it happened. He felt the strength drain form her hands, and he saw that old fire go out.

No one else was there. It was horrible.

The smart one didn’t know what to do.

So he left the hospital and went to a Starbucks to get some caramelized honey latte and his brother called him.

The dumb one.

Hey brother, the test came back and my IQ is 215. I’m a genius.

The smart one’s stomach clenched up like rigor mortis.

He hand’t told anyone yet. He hand’t told any of them. They hardly ever visited. Would they even care.

He cared.

He was the smart one.

He was.

And then he was gone.

I watched him as he walked away. He didn’t have the gait of someone who’s mom just died.

He walked like an asshole who would yell at his brother over the phone that he wasn’t allowed to be smart because he was the fucking smart one in the family, not him.

He walked like a jerk.

I don’t know how I would walk if my Mom just died. Probably normally.

So I just watched him.

And I picked up a rag.

And I wiped down the bar.

And I put the rag away.

And I went back to making drinks.

And I thought:

No one would call somebody and say the test just came back! My IQ is 215! I’m a genius. It sounds like something from a bad movie.

Nobody would say that.

So I wonder…

I just wonder.

And make the next drink.

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Can you hear the cries of the children?


So…

I have landed a summer job at a summer camp this summer.  I wont say which camp however (I wouldn’t want to make an assassin’s job too easy).

“WHERE IS HE????”

Anyway, the more and more I work at camps, the more and more I come to understand how insufferably stupid children are.  Especially first and second graders.  I am fully convinced that if murderers were stalking the halls of the camp and the children were ordered to remain silent lest our hiding places were discovered, the kids in my group could last at best 100 seconds before a cacophony of fart noises and giggles brought the killers running into our carefully concealed sub basement and we were promptly slaughtered.

Firstly, leading kids in a group larger that two is akin to herding cats.  As soon as you look away from one, he finds something interesting on the wall and stops moving to stare intently at it for just enough time so that when he finally realizes that he has not been in line the group is no where to be found.  An example: I for one find little interest in normal, every day leaves.  If i happened to see a leaf with red barbs that dripped acid/poison and growled whenever you walked near, then sure, maybe i would give it a second glance.  To the eyes of child however, every leaf is a gateway into the magical land of leaf-narnia, and must be closely scrutinized for hours on end.

Everything else ever is also equally as interesting.  Mulch?  WOW!  I’VE NEVER SEEN THAT BEFORE!  A bottle cap?  WOAH!  WHERE THE HECK DID THAT COME FROM???? A dirty old sock?  FUCK!  THIS SHIT IS JUST INSANE!!!!  To make a long story short, children cant do anything that takes more than 6 seconds of concentration.

derp?

Secondly, I have come to believe that 93% percent of children are only able to get attention at home by force.  They either cry whenever ANYTHING goes wrong or they are just bad kids and do things purposefully to piss me off.  I don’t even know how many times i have told this one kid to not run ahead of the group, and yet he does it every time.  Oh, and we cant forget the tattle-tale kids who narc on everyone always, even if they were the instigators of the situation.  I call these kids tattle demons.  They’re are many varities of tattle-demons.  The most clever ones carefully plant the seed of a wrongful act in another campers mind, most likely via inception, and then wait an hour or so for the camper to perpetrate the unauthorized act.  He then can claim he had nothing to do with whatever happened, since it was so long ago and no one saw it.  This kids just suck and are total assholes.

Thirdly, most kids lose everything always.  I am always impressed to discover that a camper has wandered off without noticing he has no shoes on or he has forgotten to grab his lunch when i SAID GRAB YOUR LUNCH 30 FUCKING TIMES AND I GRABBED HIS SHOULDER AND SAID “LOOK INTO MY EYES TIMMY AND SEE THE SUFFERING THAT AWAITS YOU WHEN YOU FORGET YOUR LUNCH BOX AGAIN”  Children are even quick to forget punishments.  Today a camper threw a tennis ball over the fence after i had repeatedly warned him against the folly of such an act.  After he did it anyway i was forced to prevent him from playing gaga later in the day.  When the time for Gaga arrived, little timmy jumped into the arena and began to play.  I however had other plans.

“Timmy” i called across the room, “you have lost your privilege to play, and must sit out this game.  Your atrocities cannot go unpunished.”

“What did i do?” shouted the ever defiant Timmy.

“Do?  DO??? YOU DARED TO THROW A TENNIS BALL OVER THE FENCE!!! SUCH AN ACT HAS CONSEQUENCES!!!”

Timmy, realizing i had his number, angrily takes a seat as i turn to the rest of the kids in my group.

“LOOK!” i shouted to them, pointing at Timmy.  “LOOK UPON TIMMY AND SEE THE FATE OF THOSE WHO DISOBEY!!! LOOK UPON HIM AND TREMBLE!!!”  The children quaked in fear as my maniacal laugh swept across the gaga dome like a terrible wind of doom.  10 seconds later everyone was playing gaga, completely ignorant of the chastising they had received, and Timmy went in the next round and all was forgotten.

In short, kids are dumb.  Given the choice, i would almost pick cat herding over camp.  Almost

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