Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Defending My Ditz

I stayed up very late finishing my penultimate Project Runway recap, so please forgive today's repost from the archives (June of 2008, to be exact):

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, and perhaps 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)

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.


  1. okay, who HASN'T snorted pixie sticks on at least one memorable occasion? because this gal has. i have also dumped an entire pixie stick on my tongue and washed it down with zima and vodka. at different times because zima and vodka don't mix.

    i don't know that zima mixes with anything except teenage drinking.

    ALSO. completely possible to be both a genius and an idiot at once. one can't be a genius about EVERYTHING. so one gets to be an idiot about other things.

  2. If it makes you feel any better, I still have to hold my hands up to tell right from left too. Which is not wise when you're driving, btw.

  3. In high-school, I had a friend who was an academic genius. She had straight A's and was an honour-roll student.

    Yet, one day, hanging out at the local record store, I came across a Japanese import of a Bruce Springsteen album (back in the days before CDs). My genius friend looked at the cover and in a straight face asked me, "Springsteen knows Japanese?"

    I kid you not!

  4. In your version of Defending Your Life, there will be great laughter during your screening. I have referred to that movie for years, both for myself and to others - as a reminder that there's likely to be some kind of accounting. I don't need to look like Mother Theresa but I'd like to not have to watch much I'd regret. GREAT movie!

  5. I figure having to look at my hands to tell left from right reminds me to be humble and kind to all the true idiots of the world. It's not *their* fault I'm so damn smart, amiright? And then I remember that it's totally not important which way is left or right, what matters is that I totally got invited to join MENSA. Bwahaha. TAKE THAT, mild dyslexia affecting only my right-left and east-west skillz.

  6. its ok, I cant tell my right from my left either and I'm a geophysicist.

  7. I snorted salt on a dare. I'd do it again for the right price.

    The visual of someone kneeling in cooking grease trying to pry apart plastic boxes is priceless. Thanks for the laugh!

  8. It's okay. I'm a straight-A student, and although I know my right from my left, I do stupid things all the time. My favorite stupid activity is running frantically through my apartment trying to find something, only to find it sitting obviously in plain sight.

  9. I like to think I'm fairly smart, but at least once a week, I do something that reminds me to stay humble.

    Also, the Elia Kazan/Elian Gonzales thing is pretty hilarious.

  10. Absolutely possible! I've risen to the top of my career in a few short years, have been awarded multiple scholarships, and yet I have to add and subtract on my fingers. Most days, I spend 20 minutes looking for keys and forgetting the names of acquaintances. I think it's because our heads are so full of important things that the other stuff just kind of trickles out...

  11. I'm with Emma. I often panic over losing something that is RIGHT THERE. Especially when on vacation.

    And I feel the same way in some ways - like I should feel smart, be smart... but most of the time my actions point forcefully to stupid... sometimes even stoooopid (yes, that bad).

    I don't know.

    Now you have me questioning every shred of my self worth. Or something.


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