Last night, exhausted from a whirlwind two-day business trip, I put on my robe and curled up with Jeff to watch Season 3 of "Weeds." It was awesome until I realized that I smelled like Canola oil. And humbling when I remembered why.
I am a smart girl. I think that there is general consensus on this. But I do and say a lot of stupid things. I think the stupidest was the Canola oil incident of 2005. I had just moved into my first solo apartment in Park Slope and, true to form and credit history, had purchased a lot of things to celebrate the occasion. From the Container Store I bought two large plastic storage bins to hold my “off-season wardrobe,” otherwise known as “ratty sweaters and shoes I never wear but refuse to throw away.” (I even have a softball mitt that I have hauled with me to every place I have ever lived, as if one day I will be gripped by an irresistible urge to play the sport that haunted me throughout elementary school—and, in which case, I will need to procure a softball—but I digress. The plastic bins are the focus here.)
They arrived stacked together, tightly. I did my best to pull them apart, but to no avail – they were wedged together but good. Let me preface this by saying that I was never good at science and never took physics. Not that this absolves me of idiocy, but still—I just want to put it out there. So I did what I thought needed to be done with stuck-together things: I greased ‘em. I poured an entire bottle of Canola oil in between the bins, essentially coating the outside of one and filling the other. I was kneeling on the kitchen floor, elbow-deep in oil, when common sense kicked in. Somehow I remembered something about water pressure. I hauled the greasy bins into the tub and turned on the tap, and within seconds they had popped free. At which point I was faced with the task of cleaning them.
I gave up after about an hour. The bins were relatively dry but still had a faint sheen of lube on them, as if I had applied a coat of butter in order to bake a giant pound cake. I packed my clothes into them anyway, and stored them in a closet. My robe was one of the items I packed away, and now, still, after many washings, it always smells faintly of Crisco.
The incident always reminds me of that scene in Defending Your Life (awesome movie; see it) when Albert Brooks is forced to watch a montage of his worst decisions. I like to think I’m pretty smart, but then again … the evidence is murky.
SMART: Member of Phi Beta Kappa
BUT THEN AGAIN: Once mixed Moutain Dew, Cherry Kool-Aid, and vodka
SMART: High SAT score
BUT THEN AGAIN: Has confused Elia Kazan (distinguished director) with Elian Gonzales (seven year-old Cuban refugee)
SMART: Strong writing skills
BUT THEN AGAIN: Once snorted Pixie Sticks just to see what would happen
SMART: Good vocabulary
BUT THEN AGAIN: Still has to hold up hands to tell right from left
Is it possible to be both smart and stupid at the same time? Is that why I so love both The New York Times and Star Magazine? Are the forces of genius and dunce at war in my brain, and will one win out as time goes by? I hope not. I know, Canola-covered hands down, which one would emerge victorious.