|When I was eleven . . .
||[Dec. 25th, 2014|12:10 am]
Phrembah (a potato-like mystery)
---sixth grade to be exact---a dumb-ass teacher told a class that I had the highest IQ in the school. Then she went on to say that Eric Nielson had the second highest and Janet Randall was third. I didn't hear this because I was out with rheumatic fever. In fact, I never made it back to school that year. I heard it from neighborhood kids who heard it at school. When confronted (which she was), the teacher said she had not divulged the actual scores, just the relative standings, to which the principal said that that was exactly what their policy of not revealing IQ test scores was supposed to prevent. The even shittier thing about it was that this was discussed in reference to why my brother couldn't be more like me. This teacher loved me and hated my brother. My brother is no dummy, but he's definitely not an academic. This fuckin' teacher was trying to shame him into being more like me. She came within inches of the unemployment line over this.
But that's not what I came to talk about today. What reminded me of this was the fact that Eric Nielson's family couldn't afford a Christmas tree one year which made me feel really bad, but at nine or ten or however many years old, I was pretty helpless to help in any way. So Christmas this year reminded me of Eric Nielson (I pray he's been well and happy all these years) and he reminded me of the IQ test fiasco. My internal reaction to the news when it happened was that it probably wasn't true because Eric was a far better person than me based on diligence, participation at school, etc. And Janet Randal had us both beat. She was one of those smart girls you get in school just prior to puberty. At puberty, girls tend to dial back the academic thrusters to make the boys look smarter and the girls more desirable and posessible. Anyway, that's what I thought: "That can't be true, they're both better than me." Later I learned that native intelligence has little to do with net aptitude and capability. In fact, my dad told me more than once that I was the most intelligent person he knew but I wasn't very smart.
I came out ahead of Janet once before that in fourth grade or so. Everyone in whatever grade it was had to write an essay on "What It Means To Be An American." Mine was judged the best and Janet's second best and we got to read our essays at the next PTA meeting. We also got metalized plastic trophies with our names stuck on with a Dymo labeler (not everyone had one in those days). I remember feeling the same way about that as the IQ test scores: "What do you mean? She's smarter than me, prettier, smells better, writes better. What do you mean I won?" I actually did something in this case to "earn" the recognition, but it still felt undeserved somehow.
Merry Christmas, Janet and Eric, wherever you are.