A lot of thinking on what it means to be smart
By Annette Martel and Kelly Hagen
Annette: I’ve been called a geek. I’ve been called a nerd. I’ve even been called a smartypants.
Kelly: Please note, as her devoted husband, I’ve never called her any names. Other than the whole “Sweet Annette” thing I do. And some other pet names built from the foundation of words like “sweetie,” “cutie” or “poopiekins.”
A: But what does that even mean? I’m talking about smartypants, not pookiekins. I would have to guess it’s better than being called a dummypants, right?
K: My pants are of nominal intelligence. But they cheat at board games.
A: Why is it that when you’re a kid, it’s only cool to be smart when someone needs you to help them with their accounting homework? But then, when you hit college, it suddenly becomes cool to be smart?
K: In fairness, I think it helps when you’re as attractive as my wife is to be both smart and cool in college. I carried a 3.74 GPA in college, but I also weighed about 112 pounds, with a giant head on top of a stick figure. I looked like a Tootsie Pop. And, as I remember it, I was not all that cool.
A: I married a Tootsie Pop head? That’s concerning. But, as I was saying, what is “smart”?
K: I think it’s a brand of cellular phones.
A: And how do we even know who is smart?
K: Well, we ask them. The smart ones admit they are not smart. The dumb ones say they’re “hecka” smart.
A: I don’t know how to change my own oil, so does that make me dumb?
K: Don’t look at me. I don’t know how to change her oil, either.
A: I have a graduate degree, so does that automatically qualify me as smart?
K: Yeah. Probably. Also, she married me, so that seems like a pretty smart thing to do. I have nice hair, and a giant noggin.
A: Just last night, our daughter called me Dr. Momma. I guess I must be smart! But then she promoted herself to doctor. And then her doll was the doctor. So, I’m as smart as a doll?
K: A doll wearing smartypants, no doubt.
A: I believe that being smart is about lifelong learning, thirsting for knowledge, and continually expanding. Not at the waistline, mind you, although I do appear to have that covered. I think it’s about expanding your knowledge, interests, skills and outlook.
K: One time I expanded a rubber glove by blowing into it, until it was the size of my head! But then I passed out.
A: I think that smart is contextual. At this point in life, smart is being able to make up a story on the spot at bedtime, when our daughter makes very specific requests like, “Momma, tell me a story about my cousin Isabel with a talking lion set against the backdrop of a castle that talks and is made of chocolate.”
K: That’s not even a challenge, really. That story writes itself. Obviously the lion will inevitably fall in love with the talking castle, but it is a love that cannot last because the sun will eventually melt the chocolate, and there will be a lot of crying. It’s kind of a sad story. You probably shouldn’t tell her that one.
A: Smart is planning for the future. But keep in mind that old saying about the best-laid plans of mice and men, which, well, when you think about, pretty much says that men are about as terrible at planning as mice, but you know what I mean.
K: I would think that mice are exceptional planners. You have to be, when you’re that small and the world is so big.
A: Smart is not eating the entire can of Pringles that Annette bought for herself and then putting the can away with just crumbs in it. This is just hypothetical, of course.
K: Smart is publicly shaming your husband for eating your chips.
A: Starting every paragraph with the word “smart” is borderline genius.
K: And not at all borderline repetitive.
A: Maybe smart is letting Kelly finish this column for us.
K: I really had nothing planned. I was thinking about what kind of retirement plan mice would invest in, if they were able to do that sort of thing. Probably an IRA(T).
A: And there you have it. I guess smart is knowing when to stop thinking.
(Annette Martel and Kelly Hagen are married, they’re writers, and they contribute the She Said/He Said column each issue. If you have any questions about how the male mind works you’d like them to explore, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.)