One of the greatest things about having a column and blog on Points in Case is how easily I can be tracked down by old friends. Thanks to the originality of my name and the marketing prowess of Court Sullivan, all you have to do is Google my name and I can be directly contacted. This is always fun, especially if the email I get is from someone I don't remember (just about the most awkward thing that can happen on the internet: someone will email me, tell me we went to grade school together, I'll email them back and let them know I have no clue who they are, and they'll either email me an insult or not reply at all. Fun times for all involved, I tell you).
Anyway, recently I received an email from just about the smartest person I know, a kid named Adam, who was one of my lab partners in Honors Biology. His email reminded me of that class, which was insanely enjoyable for me despite the fact that a) it was science and I suck at science and b) it was part of the honors program in high school. And, because I don't have enough feel-good posts, I figured I'd tell you about Adam. And if you don't like it, well all I can say is come back tomorrow. My blog is like Midwestern weather: you never know what you'll get from one day to the next.
I met Adam in eighth grade. We were both part of something the junior high called, Compacting, which was essentially an independent study program for really smart/really talented kids (though none of us were smart enough to figure out why they named the program, Compacting, but whatever). I was told, before I met Adam, that his talent for mathematics was equivalent to my writing talent. I would find out later that this was total bullshit. He was much better at math than I'd ever be at writing. Nevertheless though, he made a point to read a lot of my writing and even expressed some envy, which shocked the shit out of me. I mean, here was a kid who took college level math classes in junior high (he was taking calculus before I'd even passed an Algebra course) and he actually said to me, “Wow, I wish I could write like that.”
(Side note: For all you kids out there: Adam got paid to go to Georgia Tech and I got a scholarship for writing at the University of South Florida. My point: do your fucking math homework. Just trust me.)
Adam held the specific eccentricities of genius: a disregard for necessities (he would wear shorts in twenty degree weather), a disregard for social norms (he once showed up at my house unannounced and ate dinner with my family and, here's the kicker, he had walked there and we lived about ten miles apart) and a failure to empathize with the stupid. This contrasted well with my typical eccentricities of poet: a love of all things narcotic, female and story-worthy.
Anyway, as fate would have it, sophomore year of high school, Adam and I became lab partners (along with another kid named Adam?the teacher, an eccentric PHD who later committed suicide, referred to us as Nate Adam Squared). The teacher had devised his labs so that they would take so much time that everyone would have to take them home, thus instilling the values of teamwork or some such shit. Adam and I had a real problem with that. So did Other Adam. And so Adam devised a scheme that would keep us from meeting outside of class. It worked as such: Other Adam was a bit of an artist, I was a writer and Adam was a science guy. Furthermore, even though I didn't understand biology, I did understand Adam. So, Adam would do the lab work while Other Adam did the drawings (I would spend this time twiddling my thumbs and/or writing poetry), then Adam would explain to me what he did and I would translate it from genius English into regular-person English so we could answer the questions. And, because Adam worked fast, Other Adam drew fast and I wrote fast, not only did we take zero labs home, we got the three highest lab grades in our class.
And I don't think I learned one thing.
And maybe that's really what being smart is all about. Maybe being smart is not necessarily learning something for the sake of knowledge, but getting stuff done quicker and better than everyone else.
And if that's the case, then Adam is definitely the smartest guy I ever met.