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:

carplate

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.

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Alli
12 years ago

That license plate is funny.

But I totally get what you say about parenthood sapping what intelligence we have. I know I skidded through college and didn’t retain a thing. I am Donna from The West Wing where sometimes I need people just to tell me How It Is and What I Should Totally Think.

Amy M.
Amy M.
12 years ago

Right there with you – I’ve gotten much dumber since I had children. I have a masters degree in math & I can’t add in my head anymore.

Although I have an easy way to determine tip: Move the decimal point over for 10%, double that amount for 20%.

I’ve never been good at figuring out license plates – please tell me!

Abby
12 years ago

I made it a rule to never help my kids with their homework, because that is THEIR job.

Amy M.
Amy M.
12 years ago

Never mind – figured it out … God, I’m slow!

Pete
Pete
12 years ago

My favorite license plate was…

ELPMIS

The license plate frame said “Come on it’s simple”

Maria
12 years ago

I know what you mean. I worry about the all the things I once learned (some not very well) that I will have to relocate from the dark recesses of my brain once my kids start school.

Recently my four year old started asking me about colors, and which two colors mix to create another. I got as far as yellow and blue make green, and that was only with Ziploc assistance. I figure I’m pretty much screwed.

Wendy
12 years ago

I have a hard time with license plates and other things where the words aren’t seperated out. I’m sure I would have looked at that going “What’s an asa whip? Is that a brand of whip?”.
The other day is saw a website that was http://www.shopelvis.com and I looked at it for the longest time trying to convince myself that “Sho pelvis” wasn’t a real thing.

It is, of course, an Elvis memorabilia site (but Sho pelvis is more fun to say).

dorrie
dorrie
12 years ago

Dude that license plate was HARD! You are good at writing, though!!!

annie
annie
12 years ago

glad I’m not the only “gifted” student turned mother of two toddlers that now has to use her fingers to tip the pizza guy.

Also have self-induced puncture wound on navel region due to about a beer and a half, chunch of ice, and the pin on the back of one of those huge smiley face
buttons.

Wendy
12 years ago

Actually, the more I look at that plate, the more convinced I get that I would have thought they meant “ass wipe”.

Jen O.
12 years ago

Why are they bragging about being an Ass Whip? Or maybe they’re international manufacturers of a leading brand of ass whips?

What? I’ve got two kids, too. It’s not “ass whip”. Like an “ass whip” in an Italian accent? “Do you like my-a ass-a whip?”

God. I astound myself with my dumbness sometimes.

(I did eventually figure out that it says as a whip, but I lingered on ass whip for an inappropriate amount of time.)

annie
annie
12 years ago

What the hell does the license plate that “pete” posted mean?!

annie
annie
12 years ago

aaaaaaand I got it. so so slow.

Sunshyn
12 years ago

Too bad I can’t get “asasieve,” but that’s one too many characters. I didn’t get elpmis, though, until I typed it just now…

Mama Ritchie
12 years ago

Ass-whip? Wha?

“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.” – LMAO – you must put this on t-shirts and bumper stickers and sell via Cafe Press. I’ll buy one in every color.

Eric's Mommy
12 years ago

I also tested into the gifted programs when I was little. Then continued to get the speech that I wasn’t applying myself when I made it to Junior High and High School.

I am so worried about helping my Son with Algebra. He is in 2nd grade and already I can’t figure out some of his homework. I am horrible at math and he loves it, great.

I cannot for the life of me figure out license plates. Ass-a-whip? I don’t get it.

katie
katie
12 years ago

i have to thank you for being a truthful mom–it is great being a mom, but, man, are there some trying times. i’m tired of moms only saying how fabulous it is and leaving out the hard parts.

alomellin
alomellin
12 years ago

Wow, we are the same person. In first grade, they called my mom in to tell her she should test me for being gifted. All because I read at a higher level than my classmates. I just like to read. I, also, cannot calculate a tip w/o my cell phone. It took me almost 7 years to graduate from college. I am quite sure I am supposed to be smarter than I am. You are not alone.
When I first saw the license plate, I thought it said “asswhip”. I guess I also spend too much time staring at someone’s bare ass covered in poo.

Lo
Lo
12 years ago

If you believe IQ tests*, I’m a genius. I had to read the comments to get ASAWHIP, and use google to get ELPMIS. So you’re really not doing so bad. :)

* I do not, based solely on the high number of catastrophically poor decisions I’ve made. I wasted three whole years of tuition money with drunkenness!

Kristen
12 years ago

I must be dumb because I can’t figure out Pete’s license plate. Man, I don’t even have kids to blame my breathtaking dumbness on. Crap.

Kristen
12 years ago

Holy cow, NEVERMIND. I think I need to go study the dictionary now…or something. Oy.

beach
beach
12 years ago

had to call my 19 year old over to the computertofigure out elpis….yeah that’s drool dripping off my lower lip onto my keyboard…..WAAHHHH.

beach
beach
12 years ago

ok and I j spelt elmpis wrong….just shoot me now….

beach
beach
12 years ago

ELPMIS….Im signing off now, or hiring a proof reader.

Judy
Judy
12 years ago

My worst ever license plate was the one that parked next to me at my apartment for two years — “REVILO”. I puzzled over that every time I pulled into my parking space and every time I pulled out. Finally on the day Jean and Oliver pulled up in the U-Haul to move out, it snapped into my brain that it was his name backwards. DUH!

There is nothing wrong with your brain. You have not lost your IQ. You’re just busy.

Eric's Mommy
12 years ago

OMG I got it!!!! Smart as a whip!! I cannot believe I actually figured it out, and I WAS sitting here with my mouth open staring at the screen.

Erika
Erika
12 years ago

Ok, can someone please tell me what Pete’s means? I see others have figured it out. Please post it. I don’t want or need to guess. :)

Tammy
Tammy
12 years ago

Okay so I finally got the smart asawhip one.
Stuck on the “elpmis”. keep coming across comments saying they too were confused…only to see they had solved it in the next comment without explaining. DUDES! seriously…help me..

I need to go study.

sooboo
sooboo
12 years ago

Although I now have a masters, I flunked out of high school in my junior year. My education has huge gaps in it. For instance I never got past negative and postive numbers in math. Also, I don’t know the first thing about science. Just avoid playing Trivial Pursuit and you’ll be fine.

beach
beach
12 years ago

ELPMIS…simple spelt backwards….

jen
jen
12 years ago

I did not get that until one of the other commenters said what it meant. I was all wtf does a saw hip mean? Asa whip? I think Asa is a name right? Gah, let’s just say the ability to figure out a license plate’s meaning has nothing to do with intellect. Right?

Operation Pink Herring
12 years ago

I paid attention in school, did my homework, got all As, went to graduate school… and still found myself puzzling over the canister of Fat Face at the coffee shop’s sugar/milk area. “Is that someone’s idea of a joke? Like an insult to the people who use the whole milk?” I asked these questions out loud to my coworker, who informed me it said “Fat Free”. Fat free milk. For putting in the coffees. Not FAT FACE OMG I REALLY ASKED THAT OUT LOUD.

Whoever wrote it could use some remedial handwriting lessons, but STILL.

Swistle
12 years ago

I would like to say that (1) I got it immediately and (b) no medals dropped from the ceiling.

Swistle
12 years ago

Also: (III) Where IS my medal?

Zelda
Zelda
12 years ago

I would like to say that Swistle’s blog comments are always, always, made entirely from 100% win.

Zelda
Zelda
12 years ago

Annnnd bah. Please ignore that random comma after the 2nd always.

nonsoccermom
12 years ago

AH, hahahahahaha, I laughed out loud at this. I don’t think you’re dumb. Anyone who can write awesome stuff like you do is at least as smart as that car. :)

GingerB
12 years ago

Gifted to start out, dropped out of ninth grade, went back to college for honors and then law school and now I am dumb as a post, from working, parenting, and the not sleeping.

When I see comments by an internet person called Daysgoby, I usually see Dagosby and wonder if the monniker is meant to insult. I once read the name on a Coleman tent as Co-lemon. I don’t understand song lyrics at all.

I am not reading Infinite Jest.

My OB nurses said your IQ drops 10 pts per baby. I’m done, now.

Krissa
Krissa
12 years ago

My mom drove a Ford Edge – for a while, her license plate was “ON THE”. heh.

Tammy
Tammy
12 years ago

Your IQ drops 10 points per baby??

Octomom must be dumb as a bag of doorknobs..

Mary
12 years ago

Somehow I had the opposite problem. I’d like to think I’m an averagely smart person who somehow convinced most teachers that I was a complete dumbass until I got to college and actually had professors that paid attention to me.

I was in remedial reading, math-for-idiots (okay, I’m not awesome at math, but I kick ass at Jeopardy), English-for-non-college-bound-students senior year, and my own high school guidance counselor told me not to bother applying for college because he “didn’t want me to be disappointed.”

May I state once and all, for the record, that after talking a respectable university into admitting me under the condition that I could prove everyone wrong in 1 semester, I graduated Cum Laude, studied abraod at Oxford, and went on to get a graduate degree in my field with a 4.0 GPA. I’m not trying to be a snot about it, but HELLO, ASSHOLES. Way to undermine a kid’s potential. I didn’t exactly return to my high school to tell Mr. Evil to suck it, but I totally should.

Lara
12 years ago

I got yours, but only because you dropped a hint for me. Pete’s however? No clue. Do you remember that show, I think it was called Bumper Stumpers? My brother rocked the house figuring those out and yet I kick his ass on Jeopardy. The Teen Tournament, but still. Different people’s brains see/interpret things differently.

My favorite bonehead reading comprehension examples happened within the same week (and I have no kids to blame either).

The first, I was driving behind a mini-van/small bus one day. There was a 8 1/2 by 11 (landscaped) paper sign in the back window that said:

TOUR
B U S

I looked at it and, and being so close to the US border, assumed it was Tour B from the US. I even wondered what Tour A was, and if they had a bigger bus. I blame it on the fact that they had full justified the sign, spreading the B U S far apart, but still. When it hit me, I think I actually looked around my empty car to make sure no one could have heard what I had thought, in my own brain.

Later that week, I was in a meeting with company higher-ups and expensive consultants. The PM had made a schedule with the initials of the responsible people indicated next to their tasks. LR for mine, etc.

I read the list and piped up “So who is A One One?

Answer: “All”.

Aunt Linda
Aunt Linda
12 years ago

Funny. I don’t remember you as portrayed. I remember you smart as a, well, you know.

cindy w
12 years ago

HA! I had a horrible self-made tattoo with a needle & india ink too! Only mine was on my ankle. My high school best friend & I did them at a sleepover at my house when we were 16. Five years later, I paid a professional tattoo artist a nice hefty sum to cover that shit up.

Beth
Beth
12 years ago

Your childhood sounds like mine. I aced tests and papers, but did NO other homework in 12 years of school (had to in college, but that’s another story). I’m a spacy, distracted, lazy, professional procrastinator.

I’ve made a firm commitment to myself that I’ll get an ADD screening in January. I’ve been meaning to do that for four years, but, well, you know.

Kristin
Kristin
12 years ago

I was also in the gifted program, but actually kept up my 4.0 until I hit college, at which point I joined you in the drunkenness and poor relationship choices. That said, I have no small children to blame and still sat here for a full three minutes before I figured it out.

I… PMS makes you stupid, right?

Shawna
Shawna
12 years ago

You sell yourself short. I have always been very impressed when you sprinkle factoids like “spiders have pedipalps” into your text, and would have said that I thought you had a towering intellect.

shriek house
12 years ago

Ha. I had to have a MEETING with my kid’s 2nd grade teacher… because I needed HELP explaining the math homework. The SECOND GRADE MATH HOMEWORK.

A saw hip? What? (Actually I am proud to say I got the car one in only a feeeeew minutes.)

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

THANK YOU SO MUCH, you people who posted the license plate answers. I had no idea . . . and it was driving me CRAZY.

Games/puzzles have never, ever been my Thing. I can parrot back all sorts of useless trivia, but that doesn’t indicate any kind of intellectual dexterity, does it? Clearly, *I* am not “smart as a whip.”

susie
12 years ago

despite the fact that by this time tomorrow, I should have a PhD, I could NOT get the damn license plate. I had to look in the comments. Am going to fail my defense, be laughingstock of graduate school.