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The Column

It Happens to the Best of Us
9/15/02

No one is smart all the time. I bet Einstein once spent three hours looking for his keys, only to find them still in his front door. He may have solved complex mathematical problems after he found his keys, but that doesn't make him any less like one of us for losing them in the first place.

Think of all the times you've bit down on your tongue. Or your fork. Or your fork and your tongue simultaneously. These are things you should be smart enough to avoid. Yet it will happen again tomorrow. And later today.

It is easy to blame alcohol for the stupidity that comes after you've been drinking. Like challenging your 6'5"-240-pound friend to a game of "punch-for-punch." But you can not blame alcohol for everyday mistakes. And if you do, the judge will not be too happy.

I think I am intelligent guy. I am usually well-spoken, fairly well-read, and for the most part well-adjusted. Yet my brain is often underdone. I consider myself technically savvy. Yet I have frequently sent e-mail to the wrong person, I have occasionally answered my home phone as if I'm at work, and I once tried repositioning the paper in my printer before checking if my power strip was still on. Sure, I make fun of the people who thought their CD-ROM was a cup holder. But they are not smart enough to realize that they are being stupid. I am cursed with being just bright enough to realize how dim I can get.

Earlier this week, on an extremely sunny day, I was carrying a few packages while waiting for a bus. When the bus arrived, I had a choice of removing my sunglasses or taking out my bus pass, since I only had one hand free. Because I wanted to get where I was going quicker, I opted for the bus pass, figuring I'd remove the sunglasses once I sat down. And I did - once I sat down on the wrong bus. Had I removed my sunglasses before I boarded, I'd have seen it was the number 64 bus. Which any Einstein can tell you is not the number 66. It cost me $10 in cab fare to get back to where I started. In addition to a little bit of dignity that I might never be able to find again. Maybe it's still in my front door.

I don't fret much about my lapses in thinking. Mainly because we are all occasional morons. Our parents, our professors, our priests, and our politicians have all done things they'd like to take back. Especially our priests and our politicians. But for the white collar and the white collared alike, thought out acts of indiscretion simply test the ability to get away with things. Temporary stupidity, however, can never be escaped by anyone. Forgive me father, for I have tried to answer my phone when my alarm was ringing.

We are a habitually toe-stubbing people. And it's not because we misjudge the placement of table legs. It's because we misjudge the placement of our own feet. Yes, they used to be smaller. But they've been this size for several years, and we should really get used to them. And what's worse is we laugh when toe-stubbing happens to those around us, forgetting that we did the same thing a few days earlier. And forgetting to look out for the table leg the next time we walk by.

We have left things in the oven an hour too long and put pots of water on the stove only to let them boil away completely. We have set our alarms for PM instead of AM and shown up an hour late the day after Daylight Savings. Or is it an hour early? We can never remember. We have ruined important receipts, phone numbers, and even money in the wash while simultaneously making our whites pink, or darks bleached and our largest sweaters the size of action figures. And though we are all guilty of these gaffes, we somehow consider people who cook, clean, and care for a living less educated than the rest of us. Perhaps they have taken fewer classes. But I've never been in a class that taught me how not to act sporadically stupid. That's something each of us needs to learn on our own. If there were such a class, perhaps I could find my keys.

Maybe they're behind this table leg...

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