Friday, September 28, 2012

Life is Hard When You're Dumb

Being dumb means that you'll spend your old age shopping and living alone.
What was your childhood nickname? Was is some obscure word, like a mispronunciation of your name, a toddler's jumbled word for a beloved treat? Was it given to you by an elder sibling? Did it sum you up in any way, like the names for the Seven Dwarfs? 
The Complete and Total Loser's nickname wasn't Loser (he had to earn that and it took him years). 
It was Dummy. 
Like all nicknames, it wasn't given to him by decree. No giver of names said, "You are less than bright so you shall be known forevermore as 'Dummy.'" It was the Loser's mother.  The Loser, age ten or eleven, failed to comprehend something basic. "Don't be such a dummy," his mother said, not cruelly. 
The Loser's brother (the Loser is the third of three boys) heard this and took up the name with glee. To this day, the Loser is unsure why. It may be because the Loser's bad leg got him unwarranted attention and breaks from his parents, while this brother, a typically ignored middle brother, didn't. It certainly wasn't because he was threatened by the Loser's intelligence. This brother was, and is, the smartest of the three. He excelled in school and college, got into a good law school and is now a powerful state lobbyist who even has a Wikipedia page. (The Loser's eldest brother followed the common trajectory of the hyperactive child and founded his own company in his twenties which became very successful, making him a mid-single digit millionaire with several houses and a pretty wife.)
Dummy it was and it stuck, not with the brothers so much -- no one's called him Dummy for decades -- but the Loser. Calling himself dummy is a several times a day event.
As an expert in being dumb, here are some reasons why life is hard when you're dumb, which the Loser thought up this morning while riding back to his house to see if the expensive train pass he left on the train yesterday was in a shirt pocket:
  • The dumb suffer financially. They get low-level jobs they suspect, in the back of their fuzzy brains, they're overqualified for, but it's the best they can do.
  • Their dumbness robs them of confidence, making them unappealing to the opposite sex. The Loser has never had  a girlfriend and he never will. This is not unheard of among the very dumb.
  • They give up easily. Knowing you're dumb doesn't mean you want to face it daily, so instead of forging through a challenging book or lengthy article, you put it aside and turn on the TV or take a nap. This does not lead to an increased attention span and a gain of knowledge.
  • They're too dumb to give up hope. Sometimes they see smart people do dumb things and they begin to think that perhaps they're not so dumb after all. So they spend what little money they have on classes they'll fail in or businesses they think they may succeed at but never do.
  • Little things are hard. This is an under-acknowledged downside of being dumb. It takes the dumb much more energy and time to get through the day than it does normal people. There are times the Loser has had to return home two, even three times to get something before heading out because he's too dumb to organize himself competently beforehand. He often has to, humiliatingly, return to stores several times before he completes his shopping. All this is wearing.
  • The dumb believe dumb things. See the nice man. See the nice man speak in simple sentences. See the nice man say that if you vote for him, he will eliminate barriers to all and all will be as rich as he is even though that's a statistical and factual impossibility. See the nice man win the election (not this time, but it does happen) and gin up a war to keep himself on for a second term.

No comments:

Post a Comment