Wednesday, July 14, 2004


Back through the halls. I stopped at the door of the classroom. Was I supposed to knock? I had no idea. I opened it as quietly as possible. Everyone gazed at me even more curiously, examining me for the signs that would tell what sort of being-called-to-the-office it was. My friend Gary whispered to me, as I slid red-faced into my seat, "What was it?"

"They're skipping me maybe," I muttered.

"I thought that might be it," he said quietly, out of the corner of his mouth.

So in the middle of the year I stopped being a third-grader and became a fourth-grader. I'm sure this made sense to somebody at the time, and I imagine it delighted my parents, but it was not a wise thing to do. The fourth-grade classes were every bit as boring as the third-grade classes, and my extravagant sense of being special, a uniquely gifted genius, was just reinforced. And now I was also uniquely slow and small. An acknowledged freak. Why they didn't put me in a class with other bright kids, and give us really hard work to do, I'll never understand. It would have fed my mind, instead of starving it, and it would have cured me of my sense of being a vastly different being. It wasn't until I got to graduate school that I was surrounded by people who were as smart as I was, and that I realized, very belatedly, that there were some sixty million people in the world who shared that top percentile of intelligence with me, and that most of them were a great deal smarter than I was.

But there's the story that I swallowed, hook, line, and sinker. That I was a lonely genius, subject to no laws but my own. No sooner had I swallowed the story, than it turned around -- as stories will -- and began to swallow me.

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