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Street Smart

I always thought I was stupid. Forrest Gump-stupid, as in “Stupid is as stupid does.” (I’m still not smart enough to figure out what the heck that means.) It’s taken me numerous years to realize that there are many kinds of stupid, as well as smart.

For example, I know some super-smart people who got straight A’s and perfect SAT scores, who now work as rocket scientists. Not actual rocket scientists, but you get the idea. I could never compete with that kind of smart; and if someone were to hire me for that kind of smart, they would be stupider than me, and crazy.

When it comes to actually functioning in everyday life, though, I literally run circles around these people. Well, not literally, because that would be, you know, stupid. But I’m pretty good at accomplishing a variety of everyday tasks that the aforementioned smarties struggle with. It’s commonly known as common sense, which isn’t all that common, especially among the super-smart. Just look at Washington D.C., where the Harvard, Yale and Columbia people hang out. My version of being smart in Washington would be to unpretentiously surround myself with people who know more than I do about the issues. And then actually listen to them.

The other day someone told me I should run for public office. Ha! Not only would I be smart enough not to run, but I’d be smart enough not to vote for me. And here’s where it gets confusing. If people are too smart to run for office, that leaves who to run the show? It isn't very smart to leave all the common sense lying around outside the government. Even stupider, we elect people who are supposed to work for us, and then don't fire their asses if they don't.

Personally, I would hire a circle-running employee with common sense, over an intellectual with a good report card. Let’s just say I would hire someone like me. However, please don't ask me to run for office, because I'm way to smart for that, er, too stupid. Or whatever.

One of the smartest people I know was filling out an application to get into a prestigious university. In an essay that she wrote to introduce herself, she said, “I don’t do anything half-fast.” Hmmm. Did she mean she was slow? Was she saying that she’s loose or leisurely? Or was she just being a smart-fasst?

You could say I’m street-smart. You could, but it probably wouldn’t be true. Street-smart would be more like the smarts say, a rapper would have. The best rap I can come up with is:

So you’re driving in your Chevy and you're feeling something heavy, diarrhea, (ch ch) diarrhea.

I didn’t write that myself, but I did add a couple verses. The lyrics are probably cleaner than in most raps. But street-smart? Perhaps not. Also, if you’re street-smart, you can boogy with some degree of finesse, meaning rhythm. When I dance, my daughter will say, Mom, please don’t everrr do that again!

I could probably be considered street-smart if we were talking about driving, although some would beg to differ. My mother-in-law, rest her soul, was a good example of street smart. One day she was speeding down the freeway when she spotted flashing lights in her rear-view mirror. She lay heavier and heavier on the gas, with the cops following close behind. Exiting the freeway, she swerved into a gas station and fled inside to a restroom. She waited there awhile hoping she had lost the tail. Not so. When she came out the policemen were waiting.

“Whoa, Officers!” she sighed, “I bet you didn't think I was gonna make it!”

They looked puzzled for a moment before it dawned on them she was referring to the bathroom. She didn’t even get a ticket. Street-smart! I didn’t make that up, although my kind of smart could have. You might say that I’m street-stupid, but that wouldn’t be entirely true either. Since I realize that I get lost easily, I’m smart enough to plug an address into my GPS.

Not only are there different kinds of smart, but there are different kinds of beautiful. I always thought I was stupid and ugly. I thought beauty was having a flawless complexion, black hair and dark eyes with long thick lashes--pretty much the opposite of my scandanavian image in the mirror. It’s taken a long time to realize that I’m my own kind of beautiful. Beauty is as beauty does. (Huh?)

The mountains are beautiful. So is the desert. Tall is beautiful. So is short. Roses are beautiful and so are dandelions. I guess you could say I’m both smart and beautiful. I’m smart enough to realize that I’m beautiful in my own way. Seeing my own kind of beauty is super smart.