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Al Batt: Stupidity isn’t an Olympic event yet, though we qualify

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

I felt like Ninny the Pooh.

I’d called a friend by his brother’s name. Twice.

How did I get so stupid? I didn’t study for it.

I’ve said dumber things. This brain cramp barely moves the needle on the stupidity scale, but it annoyed me. I should be used to it because as soon as we can form words, we’ve said something stupid enough to hear crickets chirping.

I was in Alabama. A man I’ll call Andrew because his name was Andrew said something cringeworthy. Those who heard it showed patience and grace. He’d said something so idiotic and awkward one woman clutched her pearls by saying, “Bless his heart.”

Those words are others in disguise. He’s dumber than a bag of hammers. He goes to bed stupid every night. He’s dumber than a post (stump). He couldn’t spell dog if you spotted him the D and the O. He’s as strong as an ox and half as smart. He hitched a ride on the stupid train. If he were any more stupid, he’d be you. (I took a bow on that one.) He’s dumber than a box of rocks. He ought to sell shares of his stupidity. His tattoo reads, “Better then you.” That’s a typo, as in, “The creator of autocorrect died. His funeral is tomato.” A friend named her cat Typo because of its affinity for dancing on a computer keyboard.

Andrew was guilty of undeserved arrogance, an affliction that strikes the arrogant, but he isn’t stupid, he just says stupid things. His filter falters. We have trouble changing our minds after we’ve said something stupid. It’s not because stupidity makes us stubborn. It’s because our brains lose trade-in value.

No matter how much we know, we don’t know most things. The things we know pale in comparison to the things we don’t even suspect. We forget to put something away for a brainy day. Who hasn’t studied garlic in preparation for a trip to Ireland? You say Gaelic, I say garlic. Everyone has had a “vacancy” sign posted on a forehead. Cyclops couldn’t even spell Hawaii.

Stupidity isn’t forgetting. Not forgiving others and yourself for forgetting is. Remember all the things you used to be able to do? You could remember everyone’s name. I never could do that because I didn’t know everyone. When it comes to names, I’ve become a squirrel that’s forgotten where it put an acorn. I advocate universal name tags. That way, I’d know everyone. Sadly, people would lie on their name tags. “What are you looking at?” would become a common name.

I’ve seen one World Series game in person, Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Lonnie Smith, playing for the Atlanta Braves, led off the top of the eighth inning of a scoreless game with the Twins with a sharp single. Terry Pendleton followed with a line drive to left-center. Smith should have scored, but stumbled at second base and ended up at third. Smith appeared to have been duped by Twins’ second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, who pretended to be catching the ball. Instead of a 1-0 lead for the Braves, there were men on second and third with no outs. Ron Gant grounded out to Kent Hrbek at first, with the runners unable to advance. David Justice was intentionally walked to create a force at any base before Sid Bream grounded to Hrbek for an inning-ending double play. The Twins won 1-0 in extra innings. Was Smith stupid? No, he’d blundered.

In 1876, hunks of meat rained down in Kentucky. The most curious folks sampled the meat. Some fallen meat still survives and has been studied. The findings are shudder-inducing. When vultures are startled, they lighten their load. That’s right, it may have been vulture vomit. Eating hunks of meat dropped from the sky might be called stupid.

I was taught to learn from the mistakes of others because I couldn’t live long enough to make them all myself. What man has not been a blockhead, bonehead, chowderhead, chucklehead, dunderhead, fathead, hammerhead, knucklehead, lunkhead, meathead, muttonhead, pinhead or woodenhead? I’ve been all those at once.

A small granddaughter asked, “Why are boys stupid?” I explained they couldn’t become perfect idiots if they didn’t get early starts. Another man’s stupidity may seem stupider than mine, but I’m dumber than he is and I could prove it, but I’ll try not to. If you think someone is stupid because they don’t agree with you, that’s stupid.

Remember, we’re all qualified to be stupid.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.

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