I’m smart. I don’t say this to brag. It’s simple fact.
But a fair chunk of those smarts – and I really am bragging here – I had to fight for. Yes, friends: if you want to be smarter, you have to earn it. I have acquired my vast intellect through bloody combat. I wage a constant war against Intellectualism.
You know the kind of Intellectualism I’m talking about: heavy-hitting pillars of literary merit, dripping with themes and allegories and politics; books constructed of prose so potent you can smell it from across the room; films with subtle visual effects and understated symphonic soundtracks. We’re talking Intellectualism with a capital I.
You have to go looking for Intellectualism. They don’t keep that stuff prominently displayed on the endcaps at Barnes and Noble. People would get hurt. Intellectualism is vicious. Dangerous. It leaves scores of weaker minds unconscious in its wake. (Intellectualism, I’m sure you’ve heard, is an excellent sleep aid.)
I go digging for it.
In the library stacks, I stifle giggles and struggle to contain my anticipatory glee as I read the jacket-flaps on these tomes, the sort of books that grant you honorary IQ points just for carrying them around.
And I struggle through these books.
I, who sometimes read a book a day, will slog against these literary mires for weeks.
Liking it is not the point.
I come away from the experience noticeably smarter. I’ll subtly steer any conversation toward my new pet topic in order to show off my arcane, ill-gotten knowledge, spouting facts man was not meant to wot of to the horror of my captive audience, displaying understanding beyond the ken of mere mortals.
Secure in my intellectual prowess, I then go back to reading trashy novels without shame or embarrassment. Books with scantily-clad Italian men on the covers. Books set on space ships. Books with the word “dragon” in the title.
And hereby do I lose the Great War: for later I find that I’ve learned something from the rubbish.
Playing Trivial Pursuit with family, I rattle off a correct answer about the War of the Roses that I picked up from a slutty romance novel.
For breakfast one morning, I make eggs-in-a-basket because my favorite fictional detective eats them that way. They turn out pretty good, actually.
A library patron needs books about islands for a vacation she’s planning, and I know which islands to look up because they were on the helpful map inside the cover of the pirate adventure I read last month.
Trashy books are ninjas.
You’re minding your own business, intrigued by the plot, when BLAM! Shuriken in the night. You’re suddenly smarter and you never saw it coming.
It’s Ninja Intellectualism.
Also known as defeat. Devastating, total, utter defeat. Because I didn’t earn all that. That stuff infiltrated my ranks. I can’t admit to associating with that stuff.
Back at Trivial Pursuit, my family looks at me like I have two heads. “Good God, woman! How do you know these things?” my husband laments from the men’s team.
“Textbook,” I mutter. “Found it in the reference section. Looked interesting.”
Grandma, believing herself on the winning team, nods knowingly. “I’ve always said she’s a genius.”
But I know in my secret heart who is really winning this war.