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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Stupid Is as Shiftless Does?

(Yesterday — or early this morning, but who’s counting? — was for ZuGging, as the latest shopping romp Zolton Does Amazon: WILL Get Fooled Again went live.

Check it out, if a little pre-April foolishness is your thing. Weirdo. Meanwhile…)

It’s often difficult to distinguish whether a person is ‘dumb’ or just ‘lazy’.

Sure, with enough information — sleep habits, IQ tests, how often they play the lottery, whether they watch Jersey Shore or Cops non-ironically — you can make a pretty clear call. But it’s a rare luxury to have that kind of research at hand. Mostly, we get little snippets of interaction, and judge based on incomplete data.

Take my high school math teacher, for instance. We had class at eight in the morning. I’m barely capable of breathing without a diagram and detailed instructions at 8 A.M., much less solving fractions or differential equations or getting the train from Omaha to meet the one from Topeka in the middle of a goddamned corn field twelve stops into their trip with their speeds given in metric units and a conductor who stops for a ten-minute quickie every fourth platform.

(Also, word problems based on train travel are the most diabolically pointless possible. I’m grown up now and forgotten ninety percent of the math I ever knew, but I know when the train is going to reach the stop I’m waiting at: Twenty minutes and three other-trains-that-I-can’t-take after I most desperately need it to be there.

That’s just how trains work. Either the people running the things are ruthlessly screwing with us, or there are a lot more conductors getting ten-minute quickies between stops these days. Either way — math? Pssssh.)

So from this guy’s perspective, was I ‘lazy’ because I came in tardy a lot, wore pajamas to most classes, and asked if we could institute ‘Snuggie Tuesdays’?

Or was I ‘dumb’, since my homework and test answers were less math and mostly doodles of awesome ninja robots fighting flying lizards with gamma ray lasers that came out of their fricking teeth?

(He asked for the volume of a torus; I gave him War of the Worlds meets Battlefield Earth, without the overwhelming suck.

Just for sheer service to humanity alone, I think that deserved more than a D-. He tended to disagree.)

My point is, I spent two full semesters sleeping in that guy’s classroom. And was I ‘lazy’ or ‘dumb’? He probably never made up his mind. What chance do the rest of us, bumping into each other for three or five or ten minutes at a time, possibly have to decide?

I mention this because I actually was able to make a clear decision about someone yesterday — though I spent a scant few minutes interacting with them, never spoke and never met them. How? Was it magic? ESP? Scary juju voodoo? No.

“It was either online phone Scrabble, or sign up for World of Warcraft. And studded chain armor makes me look all pudgy and bloated.”

It was the awesome power of nerdliness. I’ll explain.

I play Scrabble — off-brand ghetto almost-Scrabble, actually — on my phone, against people on the internet.

(Why? My doctor said I wasn’t getting enough ‘social misfit geekazoid’ in my diet. It was either online phone Scrabble, or sign up for World of Warcraft. And studded chain armor makes me look all pudgy and bloated. So Scrabble it is.

If you’re an Android type, by the way, look me up for a game sometime under hatton98. It’s a challenge not being able to use words that I make up myself, but otherwise I get by all right.)

So, I played a game last night with some guy — or girl — from who knows where. Might have been a three-year-old, might have been my grandma, might have been the Pillsbury Dough Boy for all I know.

(Although tapping out all those little buttons seems pretty tough for a toddler. And the person never tried to spell ‘hoo-hooo!‘ for points, so I’m guessing Poppinfresh is out of the question.

Also, their screen name included the phrase ’69lover’. Does that rule out grandma? I’m going to say yes, just for the sake of being able to sleep at night. Some questions weren’t meant to be probed.)

Anyway, this game played out — and it was a tough one. This was one smart cookie — well, relative smart cookie, at least, in comparison to me. So they had, what — at least a fourth-grade education. Or equivalency. Or the wolves they were raised by were particularly astute. Something good like that.

We were neck-and-vocabularial-neck (note: ‘vocabularial’ — so not a word) for most of the way. Then I had a couple of tiles fall in my favor — a handy ‘X’ here, a blank there, and I was able to sweat out a close win. As I heaved a sigh of relief (read: pumped my fist at no one in particular in victory over an anonymous internet stranger who might, in fact, be a barely-sentient toaster oven), I saw a chat message come across the wire.

My worthy opponent was sending a short missive — in congratulations, perhaps, or a threat to ‘get you next time’. Maybe a haiku or sonnet to commemorate the game — these word-loving folks tend to get flowery in their verbiage sometimes. And with the words this cat had been spelling — real fifty-centers and spelling bee fare — I wondered what it was he had to say. So I opened the chat message, which read in full:

ur pretty gud lol gg

Honestly? From a person who just crapped EPHEBI onto a triple-word score and yanked SAPAJOU out of their ass to take a lead, and this is how we’re going to converse? Like some kind of lobotomized drooling e.e. cummings twins?

Unh-uh. Logophile don’t play that.

I didn’t even respond. After a back-and-forth battle — fought with words, fer crissakes — I couldn’t find a way to reply. I could have used actual, whole dictionary-approved words — but the note didn’t really deserve them. I could have replied in kind — ‘ya gg!!!1eleventy!!‘ — but what’s the point in that? I’ll be senile and functionally illiterate soon enough, anyway. I’m not anxious to speed that process any faster than the ravages of time and several thousand gallons of beer will allow.

So I found someone who’s clearly not dumb, but — in at least one instance — incredibly lazy. Maybe I should let my old math teacher know. He can plug this new data into some statistical formula and determine at a ninety-eight percent confidence level whether I slept through his class because I was stupid at the maths, or just plain shiftless.

My bet is on both. And that if he takes a train here to tell me so, he’ll be at least an hour late. No heavy trigonometrical lifting needed on either count, thanks so much.

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One Response to “Stupid Is as Shiftless Does?”

  1. LOTGK says:

    ” much less solving fractions or differential equations or getting the train from Omaha to meet the one from Topeka in the middle of a goddamned corn field twelve stops into their trip with their speeds given in metric units and a conductor who stops for a ten-minute quickie every fourth platform.”

    I never could figure out what way the smoke blew on the electric train….

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