The Home Team / Rating intellect: The smart money's on ...
Published 6:56 am, Thursday, December 15, 2011
There's a half-jokey, half-serious game we play in our family that outsiders might find a little cruel and perverse, maybe even twisted -- but we get a kick out of it. Every so often, we each rank the five members of our family in terms of how smart we think they are.
Standings tend to vary from time to time, based on recent family behavior and activity. (My bout with transient global amnesia a few weeks back, when I couldn't come up with the name of the President of the United States, probably didn't help my cause.) There's no rule in this little game that says you can't put yourself as No. 1, and -- surprise! -- each of us generally does place himself/herself at the top of the list. This isn't a form of cheating, we feel, but rather just speaks to our self-confidence.
Fortunately, we don't have any real dummies in our family. So if my youngest son puts, let's just say, me in fifth place, he's not saying I'm a moron. He's simply saying he doesn't think I'm currently the smartest member of the family. Or the second smartest. Or the third. Or the fourth.
Now I have to admit, my wife typically does quite well in these intra-family rankings. And there's no question, she is very smart. She "gets" things quickly, can think on her feet and is thought to be an elite multi-tasker. (I take issue with this claim: As I've said before, I think those who claim to be multi-tasking are just doing several things poorly at once.) She is also very pragmatic and can-do: Our sons call her "Sheila," for the pushy mom in South Park who always makes a fuss and gets what she wants. I like to think the fact that my wife often gets things for my sons this way is why she's rated so high.
Greg, the middle son, usually fares very well in this game, too -- and for a lot of the same reasons. He's analytical, strategic, thinks quickly on his feet, and he, too, is said to be a good multi-tasker. (Yeah, uh-huh.)
Robby, the youngest, also has the analytic/strategic gene in spades. His brilliance in fantasy football is unparalleled. But he's also very creative -- the only member of the family who's really strong on both sides of the brain. So he scores well in the polls, accordingly.
Now here's where it gets unfair. The way I see it, the three Analytics ---- my wife, my middle son, and my youngest son -- vote as a bloc. Each puts himself/herself first, and then includes the other two strategic thinkers at the top of the pyramid, leaving my oldest son Matt and myself to fight it out for fourth and fifth place.
Do Matt and I care about this? Not at all . . . because we're the Creatives. We know that we simply understand things on a different -- and of course, higher -- plane than the others. Matt is an advertising copywriter -- very inventive, very original and very funny. The Analytics claim that he doesn't always intuit what people are thinking or what they mean; that he can't "read the room." This charge mystifies Matt: He doesn't even understand what they think it is that he lacks.
And then there's me -- dead last in most of the polls. They say I can't multi-task, and they're right. I can't. And I won't. On principle. They say that I don't think well on my feet; that I'm a beat slower on the uptake; that when we stop at a Sunoco for directions and the rest of the family is all set to go, I'm still back on, "Now which way do we turn when we leave the station?"
Okay, a lot of this may be true. I happen to know it's because I think deeply. I understand things the others don't. I retain when I read. I observe and think about things that nobody else in the family observes or thinks about. They, of course, tell me that's because nobody else in the family cares.
This lack of respect doesn't faze me. I'm comfortable in my knowledge that I'm the smartest in the family. There were always those who were scorned -- who got no respect -- because they saw things that others couldn't. People tried to tell Magellan that the earth was flat, and he showed `em what's up. Lots of people had apples fall on their heads, but only Newton realized it was because of gravity.
On a recent family car trip, I noticed that the words "beer" and "highway" both appeared in five consecutive country songs on the radio. Can't say any other of the geniuses in the family picked up on that.
In addition to "The Home Team," which appears every other Friday, you can also keep up with Hank's adventures with his dog, Ricky, on his blog, "Beagle Man," on the Westport News website, at: http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/