When I was a child, I tested into the gifted programs at my schools despite the fact that I never did my homework and thus consistently earned a bevy of terrible grades and at least one teacher’s public prediction that she was surely doomed to see me the following year as my chances of graduating from elementary school were so low. Apparently at some early point there was potential for my brain to be filled with useful information, but as I would continue to establish throughout my scholastic years, I am the sort who prefers to use a protractor for scratching my name into a wooden desk instead of measuring decibels or geography or, like, whatever it is protractors are actually intended for.

I squandered my young thinking-meat on Black Beauty books and making my Barbies rub confusedly against each other, then eventually on mopey English goth bands and a plethora of Saturday school detentions during which I once gave myself an abominable prison-esque tattoo on my hand using a needle and india ink which years later I eventually paid hundreds of dollars to have removed with painful lasers.

During college I majored in getting drunk, ill-advised personal relationships, and nicotine-coated Golden Tee arcade games. Among many other classes, I flunked Introductory Japanese, Graphic Design, Algebra, Life Drawing, and Accounting 101 with a resounding flush of my mother’s tuition payments.

Which is all to say, I have some personal accountability when it comes to my current intellect. The fact that I am shamefully stupid about any number of subjects—to the point where I cannot stand to watch Jeopardy! for fear of picturing myself somehow transported to the show and simply standing there with a line of drool escaping from my lower lip—has an awful lot to do with the choices I’ve made throughout my life. Maybe if I’d paid attention every now and then I’d be able to name the capital of North Dakota, identify Shakespeare quotes, or calculate a tip without producing a thin, acrid plume of smoke from both ears, but alas.

I will say, though, that I have long suspected that parenthood has slashed my already-meager I.Q. to a level on par with the box turtle. When the majority of your day involves strategizing how to most efficiently remove feces from the underside of someone’s testicles . . . well, there’s just not a lot of room left for loftier pursuits. I guess some parents chase toddlers all day and still read Infinite Jest all night, but those people are robots who probably never tattooed their own hand.

Plus, the lack of sleep! How can anyone retain anything but the most basic of motor skills when we’re operating on an ever-worsening sleep deficit? Sure, I can’t complete a Sudoku puzzle to save my life, but whose fault is that? Surely if I had a good night’s sleep—just one— I’d have a fighting chance at the intellectual pleasures I was once predicted to claim as my own, right?

Sadly, it is with a heavy heart that I tell you two things: 1) that during the last 48 hours I have slept over eight consecutive glorious hours at a stretch each night, and 2) while I was driving to work this morning, feeling mentally rejuvenated and ready to take on the world, it STILL took me 15 minutes to figure out the fucking license plate on this SMART CAR:


There is no hope, is there? And you know what’s even worse, is the knowledge that soon enough my kids will be bringing home homework—that I won’t be able to understand.


89 Responses to “Feeble”

  1. StyckyWycket on November 12th, 2009 7:36 pm

    The only way I pay a Smart Car 15 minutes of my attention is if they have a confusing license plate that needs deciphering.

  2. Lisa on November 12th, 2009 7:53 pm

    I was so sickened by my dismal grades (I took it twice) in my college Elementary Math class I had to pass to become a teacher, that I went to a counselor (paid! out of my own college-poor pocket)about it. He told me one thing that actually helped. He said that ALL people have holes in their intelligences. Some don’t show theirs as much as others *ahem* but everyone is stupid at times. So, Stephen Hawking, if you are reading this, maybe you didn’t get the ELPMIS is the word SIMPLE spelled backwards either, did ya?

  3. Bachelor Girl on November 12th, 2009 8:00 pm

    I called three people to help me figure out this stupid license plate (none of them got it either, and one of those three has a medical license). Finally, I gave up and read the comments.

    Thanks, Eric’s Mommy!

    So for all of you out there who are, like me, MENTALLY CHALLENGED, here it is:

    Smart AS A WHIP.

  4. Kristi on November 12th, 2009 8:36 pm

    Well, at first I thought it was some kind of Asian pronounciation for AssWhip. Then, you said SmartCar and it clicked right in!

  5. Maria on November 12th, 2009 8:43 pm

    Ha. I loved every word of this.

  6. cagey on November 12th, 2009 9:02 pm

    Once, I spied a huge, full-sized Hummer with SZEMTRS. I still think that guy was packin’ a roll of dimes.

  7. Kari on November 12th, 2009 11:04 pm

    I am sort of horrified that I got the license plate immediately, but it took me a second glance to realize this picture is in my neighborhood.

  8. Leah on November 12th, 2009 11:07 pm

    Getting good grades and being book smart isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I fooled myself into thinking those things would make me into something Great without my ever having to work at it, but the older I get, the more I realize that Greatness is earned, not given out with straight-A report cards. (For the record, I think you’re Great.)

  9. Lesley on November 12th, 2009 11:54 pm

    I’m afraid the meaning of the license plate eludes me – if only it said asswhip-, but I found this: http://asawhip.com/

    As far as you flunking classes goes, school is not designed for the gifted. Einstein failed subjects and exams…

  10. Lesley on November 12th, 2009 11:56 pm

    Ah, reading comments now I get it. DUH.

    Smart as a Whip Car.

  11. Paula on November 13th, 2009 6:05 am

    #@!! – For 5 minutes my brain has been saying ASS WIPE. oy vey.

  12. Kristin H on November 13th, 2009 6:25 am

    So…what are you saying about box turtles?


  13. Jen @ lifelovenwine on November 13th, 2009 6:54 am

    Yay! I’m so glad you got some sleep!

    And haha, that license plate is great.

  14. claire on November 13th, 2009 8:51 am

    Just out of curiosity, what was the homemade tattoo a picture of?
    Inquiring minds…

  15. Gleemonex on November 13th, 2009 9:00 am

    “Clever” license plates — especially when I can’t figure them out — make me a very particular brand of aggressively angry. I feel … duped, like they’re playing mental keep-away. Raaaaaaaaaar!

  16. Jessa on November 13th, 2009 10:19 am

    I laughed so hard at this entry..I feel the same way.

    I wished I had paid attention to those life-altering events such as the Berlin Wall coming down, John Lennon’s death, Chernobyl…I was in my early to mid teens for most of it and must have been in a hairspray-induced coma because I remember very little of it all. Wikipedia, here I come…

  17. Melissa on November 13th, 2009 10:25 am

    The important thing is that whatever you did or didn’t learn in school, would have been stolen by your children anyway. So you enjoyed your time instead of blew it LEARNING only to give it up now with the birth of your children. I am 100% certain that I’m dumber now than I was 7 years ago.

  18. Deanna on November 13th, 2009 11:00 am

    *That* is what the internet is for!

    Last night for the 11 yr old I had to find the deffinitions and differences between “weathering” and “erosion” (weathering is when the rocks are worn down by wind and rain; erosion is when bits break off and, you know, ERODE) so I could be helpful in him making a poster explaining them.

  19. Megs on November 13th, 2009 11:02 am

    I get panicky when Trivial Pursuit comes out, and I’m a year away from finishing my PhD. I don’t know how I’ve made it this far in school, since I don’t even know how to do long division.

    REALLY. I don’t know how to do it. I, too, was a “gifted” child who didn’t really retain knowledge so much as show promise and was passed along with A’s that I didn’t technically deserve. I left high school at 16 by LYING about credits I didn’t have and convincing a college to take me without a list of prerequisites. I’m smart, sure, in my specific field. But I’m so, so dumb when it comes to the basic knowledge that every middle schooler should have.

    So when TP comes out, I get jokey and sweaty and defensive. I can’t answer basic questions about geography or 7th grade science and thus look like a complete DUMBASS.

    Oh yeah, and now I’m trying to write a dissertation on baby/breastfeeding brain, and I’m a shadow of my former dumbass self. I didn’t have the brain cells to spare!

  20. telegirl on November 13th, 2009 11:29 am

    LMAO!! This is perfect. Do we really lose 10 points for every baby?!

  21. sdg on November 13th, 2009 12:37 pm

    right with you on the whole “sucked my brains out” thing. How do you fail graphic design???!?!!?!? JK – I failed intro to journalism =|

  22. Crystal on November 13th, 2009 1:21 pm

    Somebody once told me that its not about knowing the answers, its about knowing how to find the answers.

    Now I google. Therefore, I am brilliant.

  23. MRW on November 13th, 2009 2:15 pm

    My second child is four months old, so currently I’m dumb as a box of hair. Yet the people I work with (all of whom are child-free) keep interacting with me and giving me projects like I have a brain. HA!

  24. Rachel on November 13th, 2009 3:38 pm

    Yeah, I thought it said “ass wipe” at first glance.

    And I giggled.

  25. Garnish on November 13th, 2009 6:27 pm

    Let me just say there is a reason why the tv show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader made all the adults look so dumbass. I have a 5th grader, and search engines have become my best friends. Just wait until the boys start school. Like I remember what the heck I learned in 5th grade, or 4th, or 3rd… It’s a whole new world!

  26. Elizabeth on November 13th, 2009 8:13 pm

    If it makes you feel any better at first glance I read that license plate as ASSWHIP. Which really is funnier than ASAWHIP…

  27. mnerva on November 14th, 2009 5:01 pm

    Love the license plates! (I am a freak as far as ability to figure out word puzzles go, though.) My favorite one that I’ve ever had was on my Camaro SS: EZ2XLR8. ;-)

  28. Anonymous on November 14th, 2009 5:21 pm

    just checked out your pics.
    love the Pixies.
    But also, I am from Nova Scotia, Canada, and as of late, we have had some bad publicity regarding one particular Coyote. Love your capture of Wiley E. Coyote.

  29. Jen on November 14th, 2009 7:54 pm

    dude. I had to read through a few comments and use context clues to figure it out.

    I used to be smart.

  30. Ashleas on November 15th, 2009 8:19 am

    When they’re not backwards.. or missing a word. I CAN FIGURE THEM OUT. (SZEMTRS and EZ2XCLR8).

    My mom has a vanity plate which says PAPPION.
    Papillon but missing the Ls. Still pronouced the same way (the Ls give it a E-on sound being that it’s french and all).

  31. .303 Bookworm on November 15th, 2009 8:25 pm

    Here’s a phrase that totally justifies how STU-Pid I feel sometimes: “You’re smarter than a box of rocks, if some of the smarter rocks were removed first.”

    These are generally the days when I’m looking at a text from my niece and trying to figure out 1) who LOL is and 2) why are they in this story???

  32. superblondgirl on November 15th, 2009 10:32 pm

    It took me a while to figure out the license plate, too. And I was always in the gifted programs at school and now I can barely add up my score when we play Yahtzee (I always lose at Yahtzee, BTW). I tell my son that the brain is a muscle and you have to exercise it or you lose it, but if that’s true then my brain is as fat as my ass, and that is not a place where either body part should be, in an ideal world. I hope that is just a Parental Lie I am telling him. I don’t want to be mentally inferior to the old me.

  33. Jessica Contreras on November 15th, 2009 10:54 pm

    I think social skills go down the tube with brain cells when you have children. They must be stored in the placenta. That’s the only way I can justify my newfound lack of memory and ability to connect with other human beings over the age of 5.

  34. Amanda on November 16th, 2009 5:50 am

    We parents, particularly those of us known to be not exceptionally learned, end up appearing like idiot savants when we unexpectedly whip an answer out of thin air.

    Here’s to exceeding low expectations every third Tuesday.

  35. Shelly on November 16th, 2009 8:50 am

    I definitely think that the further out of school we get, the less we use the skills we learned there. I’m certainly guilty of that.

    I did get the smart car license plate, but struggled with the one Pete posted.

  36. Ashley on November 16th, 2009 11:05 pm

    There is a car always parked outside our local Sears store. I figure it belongs to the owner because the license plate says MRSEARS. For the longest time I thought it said Mrs Ears but I think it’s Mr Sears. For some reason Mrs Ears makes me laugh everytime I see it.

  37. Sharon on November 17th, 2009 6:19 am

    I realize this is late in the game to be posting comments, but I thought of you as I drove into work today, behind a jeep with a Tweety Bird tire cover and the license plate “NOSHOES”. You have to understand, I teach high school. And so the first thing I thought was, “NOS HOES”!! and I’m off and and ranting about sexist a-holes who can’t even spell “HO” correctly… and then I realize that it probably means “NO SHOES”. Sigh.

  38. AmyMusings on November 17th, 2009 10:44 am

    Is that supposed to say asswipe? I don’t get that license plate.

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