It’s easy for these fellas to be smart, I used to think. They can talk about their Shakespeares and their thermodynamics. Us normal folk just stand and nod. Those facts could be right. They could be wrong. We’d never know. Words is words.
One day, I thought, “why can’t I?” I got looks. I got manners. My mom taught me well enough.
So I decided I’d try. I went to a café where the walls were shelves of books. I got talking to this professor fella. Glasses and a coat with leather elbows. He was talking some such about space.
I said, “Why, of course,” and, “I wholeheartedly agree.” He smiled. He spoke more about the stars and bursting suns and the pull of the moon. I nodded and acted like I understood. I suppose I did. After all, words is words.
He stopped and said, “I’ve never met such an astute, capable man quite like yourself.” He took out one of them smoking pipes. He put some tobacco in, lit it with a match, and slipped his hand into his coat pocket.
Boy, he looked smart.
I said, “You flatter me, sir.”
He smiled through those glasses. “Say, why don’t you come by later. I’m having a bit of a get together. Just a nice little soiree. I’ve invited some other professors, scientists, doctors, people you are probably quite familiar with.”
I said I’d come by later. He gave me a bit of yellow scrap with his address on it. He said, “Well, until then, adieu,” and walked out of that little café.
That’s how things started. It was easier at the party. Smarts is easy when you’re surrounded by it. Just stand straight, look them in the glasses, and say broad things. Things like, “I agree,” “That’s remarkable,” and “I heard about it. How is it, exactly?”
And they kept at it. Words is words. They probably knew that, though.
I wanted to stop, but that professor kept inviting me. He was a good fella. His smoke smelled good. His glasses was so happy. The drinks poured out like rivers. The food was delicious. I didn’t know what I was eating most of the time, but the smart people ate so I did too.
There were girls at the parties, too. Pretty ones. Some wore glasses, and I liked those kinds. They was fun to talk to. I acted smart and they’d laugh and smile and then they’d be on me.
Fucking smart girls was nice. They would say things the whole way through. One girl moaned calculations and formulas out loud. One mapped stars and constellations on her body. One girl recited a poem from some German writer, and then the poem turned into a song as she came.
The girls would always whisper, “Brilliant…” and then fix their glasses. Boy, they were pretty.
That’s how I became a smart person. The fellas liked to talk and eat and drink and laugh. The ladies liked that and fucking. I could only oblige.
Then I thought I’d bring new people like me. I’d teach them how to be and what to say.
I taught a few. They taught others. Before I knew it, the parties were full of us.
That professor fella got happier and happier. His glasses was shinier than stars. The girls all had these sneaky looks, like they wanted to laugh and throw bricks into windows.
People talked more. I’d like to think I learned some. I learned about solar systems and art and formulas and that German writer. I bought a pipe and smoked it with my hand in my pocket.
I could tell who the newer people were. One fella would say, “I heard about it. How was it?” “I heard it was remarkably astute,” another would respond.
But words is words. They’ll learn that.