Friday, March 13, 2009

Apparently, I'm Not Smarter than a Fifth Grader

by Felicia Donovan

I recently had dinner with a good friend when we got on the subject of trivial knowledge. I immediately admitted that this was not one of my strong suits.

"But you would know the basics like state capitals, wouldn't you?" she asked.

"Sure, something like that I'd probably know."

"So you would know the capital of, say, Pennsylvania, right?"

"Oh," I boasted, "everyone knows that. I've even been to Philly once. It's a lovely city."

"It's not Philadelphia."

I scratched my head. "Are you sure?"

"Trust me, it's not."

This conversation really got me thinking. Admittedly, I'm no brainiac, but I happened to have done pretty well throughout public school and college. Somehow along the way, the plethora of facts drilled into us seems to have slipped from my brain. Here's my theory as to why this has happened...

1) Bearing children. For every child you've born, take 4 years of school away. Think I don't know trivia? Well, here's a known fact - as the placenta descends, brain cells attach themselves and out they go. They continue to seep throughout diaper changes, worries about where the kids are, how many tattoos they'll come home with, who they'll come home with and what kind of humans they'll grow up to be. This is not recoverable. That's eight years of my schooling gone. Poof! If you have step children, take a fraction of the time you've known them and deduct school years accordingly.

2) Mortgage payments. If you are Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and the like, you can retain all the brain cells you want because you don't have to worry about the daily minutiae of life such as how to pay the mortgage payment. You don't stop in the middle of the day to say, did I pay the mortgage payment, how will I pay the next mortgage payment or how come I pay the mortgage payment on time and don't get any stimulus relief? For every moment you've worried, fretted or thought about your mortgage and/or rent payment, deduct a day of school. That's another year at least for me, probably two. Could be more...

3) Juggling multiple jobs. Since many writers also have "day" jobs, our brains cannot be expected to operate at full capacity for the 16 hours of wake time. I consider parenting to be a primary job, so it's okay to "double dip" by deducting yet another year for every job you hold including being a parent.

4) Not consuming alcoholic beverages. I remember years ago some fool came out with a study that said drinking alcoholic beverages causes brain damage. I can prove otherwise. When people gather and drink, they talk. When people talk, there is a tremendous amount of brain activity as the words are processed. Fact. Granted, this is solely one's choice and the lest I offend anyone who chooses not to drink, it's okay. But if you hoist a glass on occasion with friends, credit yourself a few extra days.

By my equation, that's 10 years, at least, of my own public education having slipped through the cracks (it would have been eleven but I've credited myself for knocking back a few with with friends throughout the years). I won't deduct my college years because I paid for them and it's too painful to think it was all for naught. That would mean I might just be smarter than a 2nd grader, but I can't remember what year they taught the state capitals, so even that's up in the air.

As for the capital of Pennsylvania, go look it up yourself. Maybe you'll learn something!


Craven said...

LMOF. #1 applies to men too. After children, I find I communicate in hand gestures, grunts, screams, and single sentences.

Keith Raffel said...

But women are smarter than men as shown by the fact that they buy more crime fiction. How much have we lost then?

A J Cronin said...

This may explain Octomom.

Jess Lourey said...

Scranton, right?

Felicia Donovan said...

Thanks, Jess. I feel so much better!

Deborah Sharp said...

Oooh, this is embarrassing, Felicia, but there are times I'm not sure I'm smarter than a first-grader!

dabrah said...

At last! Someone understands.