In a dark, secret corner of the internet, Tammy has dug herself in deep by choosing to rate her siblings in order of intelligence. Naturally she rates herself first on the list. I will not be so brazen, but I will rate my
children cats in order of intelligence: Toto, Meatball, Simon, Nemo.
I believe one of Toto’s problems (and lordy does she have problems) is that she’s too damn smart. Ever since she was a kitten, she’s shown signs of extraordinary cat intellect. At one time she would eagerly play fetch. I had never seen a cat do this, though I’d read about it. It was great fun. Once or twice she was able to open the bathroom door while shut inside. She’s always had an uncanny ability to guess our intentions, and to convey her own.
Nemo’s at the opposite end of the spectrum. He’s a dopey, cross-eyed freak, but he’s a sweetie. He’s so dumb that the birds and the squirrels mock him. I once watched three squirrels torment him around the base of the walnut tree.
I think it’s dangerous to start rating how smart you think people are. We each think in different ways. There are different sorts of intelligence. I’m smart about some things, but woefully ignorant of others. I believe that my brothers and I are of roughly equal intelligence, but I doubt we’d test out as such. We each have different strengths. One of mine happens to be standardized tests. But Tony’s better at dealing with people, and Jeff’s better and dealing with space and numbers.
I have a tendency to think of others as brilliant who are capable of performing feats of which I am incapable. For example, when I first met her, I thought that Pam was the smartest person in the world. When I met Joel, I thought he was. Both are smart, but I came to realize that what I really admired was their ability to think and act in realms that were foreign to me.
I used to love to get together with Andrew and Dana. (Sadly those days seem to be gone.) Each of us is pretty bright, but each of us is borderline autistic in our his way. This leads to some entertaining discussions and arguments as we’re each convinced of our rectitude, unwilling to yield to another’s viewpoint. (Dana, in particular, is set in her ways. In our more than fifteen years of friendship, I’ve never seen her alter a viewpoint.) We each recognize that the three of us are pretty smart. It’s just that each of us thinks that he’s a little smarter than the other two.
Ultimately intelligence is overrated. Which would you rather be: dumb and happy, or smart and miserable?