Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Possibly Putting Myself In Jeopardy




[Long damn post, but that's OK.
You've read it before, anyway.
And that sentence rhymes, so here's one more!
I won't take the credit, if you find it a bore.
If you do, here's who to bitch at.
It's all Craig's fault (who I don't want to snitch at),
but he inspired me (yes, he did)
to re-post this stuff about me as a kid.
So, go to his place and tell him to stop it,
'cause you're tired of tales about me as a moppet
(although, truth be told, that's not the point,
but you won't find it out 'til the end of this joint.)]

[Yeah, that was pretty bad, but it's the only new material you'll find here today, so don't expect it to get any better. Here comes the old stuff!]

Writing as I’m about to do has the potential to set me up for a fall. Every grammatical error will seem an indictment, and God help me if I misspell anything. Should my memory be faulty, someone might jump on me with both feet. I also have to be careful to keep my sense of humor, not letting my ego overrun everything. I'll need to throw in a joke or two, to keep it light.

I’m going to write about my being intelligent.

(No, wise guy, that wasn’t the first joke.)

There has rarely been a time in my life when I haven't felt that I was more intelligent than most of the people with whom I’ve been involved. That isn’t to say I’ve always been THE most intelligent person in a particular group, nor does it mean that I'm one of the smartest people on the planet. One look at me standing in the rain without a jacket, on a 40 degree day, smoking a cigarette, would be enough to tell you I'm not Einstein's successor. It's just that, when all factors are taken into consideration, I don't usually feel the need to take a back seat to too many folks in any crowd of which I'm a part.

Does that sound amazingly egotistical? I suppose it might. It’s true, though. I’ve always been in possession of more brainpower than most of those with whom I’ve associated.

(If you're a long-time friend or business associate, and you're wondering if I'm saying that I'm smarter than you, the answer is no. I'm talking about all of my other friends and business associates, not you. You're a genius!)

I suppose now would be a good time for me to trot out the proofs, if I had any. However, my best pieces of evidence aren’t available for scrutiny. You’ll have to take my word concerning them (and I'd say that your doing so would say a lot about your own innate intelligence and character, but that would be too blatant an attempt at flattery to sway someone of your obvious discernment.)

When I was an infant, my mother kept a small journal about me. It was within the pages of a how-not-to-kill-your-baby book published by Good Housekeeping. There was a section in the back for recording your child’s height, weight, accomplishments (reaching for things was one, so the bar wasn’t set very high), and so forth. There was also a section reserved for recording the diagnoses and/or pronouncements of doctors and other health professionals. My Mom recorded, in one of those sections, that some pediatrician had proclaimed me "... slightly more intelligent than most other children" after he had me perform some tests. Perhaps I was having a particularly good day reaching for things. Well, I've always been pissed about the "slightly" part of that statement, but I'll take the rest of it.

As I grew up, I found myself in situations that offered further proof concerning my general mental superiority. For instance, in grade school, I was always the best reader in my class. When the teacher called upon us to read aloud, I knew I could do it more easily, and with fewer stumbles (that is to say, none), than all of my classmates. I was good at it because of help from my mother, father, and other relatives. My mother taught me the basics of reading before I entered kindergarten. My other relatives - somewhat to my outer embarrassment, but very much to my inner pride – would have me read aloud from newspapers, almanacs, magazines, encyclopedias, and so on, every time I visited them. They always heaped inordinate amounts of praise upon me for being able to get through all passages, of whatever difficulty, smoothly. I owe my current job of voice-over professional to them (and you probably owe them your difficulty in plowing through some of my more painful constructions, since I glide through most anything and thus don't edit as neatly as I probably should.) Back in grade school, however, I was so much better at reading than any of my classmates, I would actually stumble ON PURPOSE once in a while. I was so self-conscious of my superiority that I didn’t want the other kids to be mad at me for making them look bad.

I was a voracious reader as I grew up. I read newspapers cover-to-cover; every bit of magazines, even the publisher's statement and copyright notices; encyclopedias were a constant source of amusement; and nothing could keep me so thoroughly entertained, for as long and with as much joy, as an almanac (but, you knew this already.)

As good parents would, My Mom and Dad fed this desire to learn. Whenever we went on a shopping trip to a department store, they'd allow me to roam off on my own to the book section. There, I'd pick one and they'd buy it for me. My Mom would often come home from work with some sort of interesting science or history book she had purchased for me. I was a frequent patron of our local public library, and I belonged to various book-buying clubs sponsored by the Gilbert Stuart, my elementary school.


For the fourth grade, when I was 8, I was taken from that elementary school and assigned to an advanced school in another neighborhood in Boston. Being smart doesn't always equate to emotional maturity, though, and I cried and wailed and made a general nuisance of myself for the two weeks or so I was there. I wanted to be back in my own neighborhood school with all of my friends. So, my parents, being good folks who valued their child's happiness over some abstract future earning potential, re-enrolled me in the Gilbert Stuart. I was happy as a clam when they did so. However, being assigned to the advanced classes was an ego boost, even if I hated being at that school. I was now more firmly convinced than ever that I was a 'smaht kid', as we'd say in Dorchester.

While in the 6th grade, I took the test for admittance to Boston Latin, the only 6-year high school in Boston. It was (and arguably is) the most prestigious secondary school in the country. It was founded a year before Harvard, and Benjamin Franklin was a dropout from the place. Imagine the graduates! Well, I passed the exam and entered the school for the 7th grade.


And now comes the moment when I humble myself. I flunked, miserably. Whereas I had been a straight A student in my neighborhood school, I was straining to attain passing grades at Latin. The main problem was that everything had always come easily to me before, but now I was being asked to apply myself. I did only as much work as I thought I needed to do to keep my parents and teachers off of my back. Because my travel time to and from Latin was 60 to 90 minutes each way, I was constantly more tired than I had ever previously been in school. And being an 11-year-old in a school with kids as big and old as 18 or 19 was not much fun; it was standard for the upper classmen to pick on the "sixies" as we were known. I truly hated most of my time in that school.

It appeared I might have to repeat the 7th grade. Talk about having your illusions concerning your intelligence smashed to rubble!

I was saved from being kept back by dint of the fact that Latin was such an amazingly hard school. Had I stayed there, I would have had to repeat the year. However, if I transferred back to my local junior high school for the next year, I would still be promoted. Although there was some argument between Mom and Dad concerning which course of action to take, I was finally transferred, much to my relief, and I was promoted to the 8th grade.

My parents and I didn't necessarily learn a lesson from my first stint at Latin. I once again took the entrance examination for 9th grade (as well as being a 6-year school, students could enter for a more-usual 4-year high school course.) This time around, I lasted half as long as I had the first time. I did so miserably in my classes that I transferred back to my local school midway through the year. Once back at 'The Woody' (Woodrow Wilson Junior High, the neighborhood school) I resumed my coasting, in the relatively relaxed atmosphere, and graduated easily.

I took another entrance exam, this time for the second-best high school in the city, Boston Technical. I passed it. And I graduated from there, too, although it was a closer call than it ever should have been. By the time I got there, I detested going to school. Whereas before, during my pre-teen years, I found school an alright place to be with my friends - not that I was overjoyed, but I didn't dread it - now all I wanted to get out of school was me. I was high half the time, didn't care at all, and I passed barely enough classes to graduate - after I made up one class in summer school.

Heck of a way for a kid who tested out at a 136 IQ to finish his schooling.

The shame of it is that I loved learning. It was school that I hated. I used to play hooky from high school because I abhorred being in those buildings and being graded, but do you know where I went when I played hooky? Most guys went to a ballpark or to a movie or did something normal. I went to the Boston Public Library and spent my day reading.


And from that reading, and from my devouring of encyclopedias and almanacs and dictionaries when I was a kid, I've acquired great storehouses of haphazard knowledge, most of it useless except for my own entertainment and with just enough unfilled gaps to get me into trouble. Which brings us to the present time and my fourth attempt to get onto the television show Jeopardy. This evening, I will be attempting to qualify for the show via an on-line test. I'll let you know how it turns out, of course (unless I make an absolute ass of myself, in which case I'll probably tell you about it in two or three parts, because why waste the opportunity to publicly display my utter humiliation and shame all at once?)

Wish me luck. I obviously need it.

Soon, with more better stuff.



48 comments:

Buck said...

Sooo... is the bit about the fourth attempt at Jeopardy current or part o' the re-run? I recall a previous post (two?) about your attempts to get on the show, but have lost count.

We have much in common in this space (childhood), particularly the encyclopedia thang. I spent half my childhood "on restriction" where I was allowed out of my room only for meals and to use the bathroom. The 1948 edition of The Encyclopedia Americana was the only reading material I was allowed and we had no computers or teevee at the time. Well, the family had A teevee, but it sure as hell wasn't in MY room. So you can guess the rest. Cover-to-cover, including several yearbooks, which is the source of MY (ahem) encyclopaedic trivia store.

I never tried out for Jeopardy, though. Good luck if that bit is current.

Daryl Edelstein said...

If you do make it, I hope you have some terribly witty repost to share with Alex that he cant turn and make about himself .. he is such a tool.

Michelle H. said...

i was going to ask the same thing as Buck. Running through the Jeopardy dragnet again?

Jackie said...

I also wondered if the try-out for Jeopardy this evening was part of the previous post, but when I read Craig's post (I loved Lime's comments) I gathered that the fourth time is tonight. If I haven't 'gathered' incorrectly, you know that I wish you all the best as you attempt to be a contestant on Jeopardy. That would be wonderful!
From one who finds herself under the larger part of the Bell(that would be me!!) to my friend who is at the far right end of the Bell, I do wish you the BEST tonight....
Hugs,
J.

Mich said...

Letting the adults know you were smart--that was your first mistake. ;) Life's much easier when everyone thinks you're the village idiot.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you getting on Jeopardy!!!

xoxo

Anonymous said...

Good luck Suldog. I took the test the last three years, but missed registration this year. I assume you are about my age,and I watch the show regularly and think that my peak Jeopardy-playing ability is past by a few years. When I flubbed the question,who is the author of "Freedom" on last year's on-line test, when I had just finished reading the book, because I was blanking on the author's name (Jonathan Franzen), I knew it was time for the rest home. Hope you do well tonight, I've always enjoyed your blog.

lime said...

i also read before kindergarten and read dictionaries, encyclopedias, and atlases for fun. i was in the gifted program in grade school. though boston latin wasn't an option in SE PA, i was part of a small group asked to take the SATs in 7th grade for the sake of joining some program run by johns hopkins. 7thgrade is such a rotten year for most kids, really. going up to the jr hi was not fun and the teachers already seemed to expect perfection as my parents did. my dad wanted me to take the SATs in the worst way but i was scared to death that my teachers would pour on even more pressure and so i didn't.

and uh....yeah 136 here too.

good luck on your jeopardy test.

Uncle Skip, said...

The bit about being intelligent that isn't the first joke...
The graph with Einstein says it's all relative.

Good luck with the test.

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

My wake up call came in 9th grade. Up until then, I'd managed straight A's without putting forth much effort. Didn't work so well in high school, sorry to say. Learned the hard way that when everything else is equal, it's the hard-working, motivated folks that get ahead.

Are you trying for Jeopardy again, or is that left over from the original posting?

The Broad said...

Any idiot can tell you are very smart, Alec -- oops, I mean Sully!
;-)! Good luck with Jeopardy -- I'd have to make a special trip to the States just to see it if you were on...

Mich said...

Fluff is a magical delicacy. I had no idea there's A WHOLE FESTIVAL FOR FLUFF??

I'm trying that weird snack idea. It sounds like it would be good, because Fluff doesn't really have much a flavour and I love salty-sweet combos.
My fav fluff concoction: Fluff, crushed graham crackers, chocolate ice cream, and a little milk in a blender. DELICIOUS.

Suldog said...

Buck - It is current. Fourth attempt. Much like Ron Paul and the presidency.

My parents used to send me to my room for punishment, until they found out that I didn't really consider it a bad thing because I enjoyed reading while stretched out on my bed. They then undertook other means to correct my behavior, but it was pretty comfy for a while there :-)

Suldog said...

Daryl - That's funny. MY WIFE also thinks he's something of a minor league douchebag, but her complaint is how there must be a clause in his contract stipulating at least one question a game wherein he gets to say something in French.

(Personally, I like the guy, in case anyone from the production staff is reading this.)

Suldog said...

Michelle - Giving it one last try, probably. I'm willing to humiliate myself quite a bit (if the price is right, but that's another show, and... ah, skip it) but so far I'm not getting anything but blog posts out of it.

Suldog said...

Jackie - Thank you. The way I've done on the other three attempts to get on the show, I'm getting the idea that my being on the far right of that bell curve may have had something to do with my accidentally having dropped some crumbs from my ham sandwich onto the IQ test, rather than the the answers I gave.

Suldog said...

Mich - Yeah, it's always easier to meet low expectations than high ones. I've desperately tried to make that the case with this blog, most times, but every so often my ego puffs itself up and demands to destroy me.

Suldog said...

Anonymous - Thanks you. I do sometimes wonder if I've passed the time when my neurons are firing quickly enough to be a success at this. Sometimes I feel extremely sharp and ready to take on all comers, but there are other times when I know the answer, have it on the tip of my brain, but can't get it out in time. We'll see what happens tonight. It's a crap shoot.

Suldog said...

Lime - I'm consistently tickled by the thoughts and feelings we share, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised about the IQ score being similar. Of course, see my above answer to Jackie :-)

Suldog said...

Skip (not MY uncle, but somebody's) - Yeah, relative it is, in that I was lucky enough to have smart ones. My gene pool had no shallow end, so I had to learn to swim early.

Suldog said...

Chris - Oh, yeah, this is the fourth (and probably last) attempt.

Oh, wait! There was something you said about hard work and motivation, which I think has something to do with persistence paying off? Nah, couldn't be all that important.

Maybe if I change my name to Trebek Est Un Dieu Sullivan.

Suldog said...

Broad - If I get on, I'll record every episode and send them to you.

(I figure making a rash promise like that will work in my favor, karma-wise.)

Just Stuff From a Boomer said...

I hope you make to Jeopardy. I have acquired tons of worthless information too, but I swear, even though I do watch Jeopardy, I realize how much I don't know. Now Trivial Pursuit, that's something else. I loved playing that. I think we owned 4 or 5 versions.

Suldog said...

Everybody - In case you're wondering, Mich is referencing a comment I made over at her place. If you've had Marshmallow Fluff, you know she speaks the truth. And, yes, there is a yearly festival...

http://www.aroundtheworldl.com/2010/09/26/the-fifth-annual-marshmallow-fluff-festival/

Suldog said...

Boomer - For the longest time, I never lost at Trivial Pursuit. NEVER. Then, once when I was high as a kite, I got into a game with a (relatively) sober very smart woman. She kicked my ass. And I've never played it since.

I'm not sure exactly what that says about me, but I'm sure it's not good.

Carolina said...

Good Luck! You can do it. And you have nice teeth now.

We share the same IQ test score. 136.

HA! :-)

Suldog said...

Carolina - You, me AND Lime. We should start a club!

Craig said...

Well, humph! You're gonna blame this on ME??

I had to smile, tho - my parents did the same thing with ME in department stores; I collected pretty much everything Dr. Seuss ever wrote that way. . .

I have, somwhere in my files, an old Dilbert cartoon, in which the janitor is inviting Dilbert to join his Mensa group. The punchline is, 'Superior intelligence has a lot less practical application than you might think.'

I never quote my IQ or SAT scores to anyone. I'm still traumatized by my HS football coach, who once berated me with, "You'd think a guy with a ### IQ could remember the f***ing snap count!" So yeah - see the above Dilbert quote. . .

I once posted about my experience at a Jeopardy! tryout. If it's not too late, I can save you a bunch of trouble. You can be ever-so-smart, but that has almost nothing to do with actually appearing on the show. You see, Jeopardy! is a TV show; they aren't looking for smart people; they're looking for people who look good on TV, and will help their advertisers sell their products. I spent a year as an official member of the Jeopardy! contestant pool, but my phone never rang. (Dilbert quote, again)

Also (*whispering closely into your ear*) - the difference between you and me and Ken Jennings is probably not that he's smarter than we are; just that his buzzer reflexes are better than ours. . . (and he had a better screen test. . .)

Craig said...

Anyway, I suppose I've blamed you for enough of my blog posts, so fair's fair, I guess. . .

Suldog said...

Craig - Well, I do notice that you used three pound signs to obscure your IQ, so we can rule out 99 or below.

Unless,, of course, you're so thick you just used a random number of pound signs or you actually believe that pound signs constitute an IQ score. There could be that.

Yeah, I felt a bit odd quoting the number, since those above me could say that I'm not actually all that and a bag of chips, while some of those below would just get all huffy (or Schwinn.)

I'm actually blessed with excellent reflexes, so I figure that would be in my favor should I ever get on the show. They're a slight bit slowed by age, but that only affects me in a situation where I could die, like a line drive back through the box. I'm still able to press a buzzer with all due speed. And I know that my reflexes in that regard are (or, at least, once were) superb, since I did previously appear on a game show where that came into play, and did quite well until the final question, damn it.

You may have seen this. It's actually pretty much the original Part Two of what I re-posted this morning.

http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com/2010/01/smaht-kid-part-two.html

I'm pretty sure I must have read your Jeopardy posting, but would you remind me where it is? I'd probably like to give it another read.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Other than graduating from the high school you did I could pretty much have written this entire post. (No matter what people say about my ego) I was the exact same kid as you. Okay, there was one other difference, I used to skip and spend my time at home reading, not the library. But to my defense, Arlington was way too small a town to get away with hitting the library when you were ditching and not getting caught. It was that feeling of being trapped and forced to learn from people who had no idea how to teach that put me off of high school. The classes taught by teachers who cared and really tried I always enjoyed and never failed to show up for.

Oh & btw, you're not just smaht but wicked smaht. Good luck & fingers crossed!

Suldog said...

Jenn - Yeah, I showed up for the good ones, and with pleasure.

I can still name the good teachers from high school - Mister Doucette (who taught logic as an elective and geometry as a requirement, and I loved the former and hated the latter), Mister Russell (English), Mister Gordon (American History), and I said I could name them all but there's a journalism teacher who is slipping my mind right now. Anyway, those folks encouraged rather than discouraged, made acquisition of knowledge seem a joy rather than a task, and were very kind to a (hard to believe now, but true) extremely shy and barely able to speak in class above a whisper teenage boy.

Craig said...

As a musician, I was sure that you'd recognize those as 'sharp' signs (since, you know, I'm such a sharpie. . .) (or is it 'shahpie' in Boston?)

I thought about putting it down as '1##', but I thought I'd at least try to deceive the folks who aren't as smart as you. . .

;)

Craig said...

In fact, I'll narrow it down even further for ya, and tell ya that it's lower than Einstein's. . .

;)

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Nobody's ever told me my score (IQ). But a lot of times it's been implied that my intelligence is underutilized.

messymimi said...

Good story, and good luck.

Jewels said...

Bah. IQ is just a number. I've met plenty of people who scored brilliantly on IQ tests that I wouldn't trust to babysit my cat. And if grammar is any indication of intelligence than I'm in big trouble.

Barbara Shallue said...

Wow, fortune cookie fortunes AND we both spent hours reading the encyclopedia when we were growing up. I think you're probably smarter than me, though. I rarely skipped school, but when I did, it was to go to the beach. However, when my sister skipped, she would travel to a nearby college library. She's smarter than me, too. (Hope you did (do?) well on the test tonight!)

Red Hamster said...

I never watch Jeopardy, not an Alex T. fan, but I will watch if you get on the show. Good Luck!

silly rabbit said...

I know a gal who not only made it on to Jeopardy, but won! Laurie Massey is her name. If Laurie can get on there... you can do it Jim! I believe in you. Good luck... break a leg!

Shrinky said...

Well worth the re-read, Sully - did you ever make it into the Jeopardy show? I also learned at 11 the astounding truth I wasn't a genius after all - it sooo HURT MY FEELINGS, big-time! I don't think I've ever gotten over it.

Tabor said...

I used to think I was smarter than most people I knew...not at facts and figures, but at reading people and at common sense. Now I am not so sure anymore!

SueAnn said...

Well now I have to re-think my intelligence!! Ha!
Best of luck to you
Hugs
SueAnn

Jinksy said...

I wish you all you wish yourself! ♥

Judi FitzPatrick said...

Always a pleasure, even when it's a rerun!

Good luck with Jeopardy test; hope you make it this time.

Peace, Judi

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! I think you've encapsulated the mission of this blog and our challenge.

SarcasticTestGuy said...

Well? Don't keep an idiot (me) in suspense? Didjya doo it?

lime said...

listen i was tested formally as a kid and twice as an adult. the ham sammich crumbs would only have helped it you dropped them in a way to complete the pattern sequence on the deli section of the test.

Jeni said...

As I was reading this I was beginning to think I was reading some autobiographical post I'd written in my sleep. Well except for the testing for the elite Boston school and a few minor other points here and there! Egads but we really are a lot alike. Maybe I am a much, much older sister of yours that you were never aware you had? I read before I started school and once in school, I read darned near everything and anything not nailed down! That went on for the 1st six years but in 7th and 8th grades, I started to notice other things besides books that looked like fun and by 9th through 12th grades my main interests were focused pretty much on just the fun side of life or the ultra-lazy, let's do nothing at all aspect. I know at some time the kids in my age range had IQ testing and I seem to recall mine being fairly high -or so my Mom would point out to me from time to time -but now, if I did know that number, I've long since forgotten exactly what the damned thing was anyway. See what happens when you have a certain modicum of intelligence and fail to keep it exercised? That's how people like you and me and Lime and a whole bunch of others come in to existence!