Well? Who was it? Wife, mother, neighbor, teacher, celebrity, academic, co-worker, author, artist, girlfriend, courtesan, random encounter…who?
Dr. Douthit, the head of dramaturgy and literary development at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I had her as a professor for one term and have been out to coffee a few times with her after that. Three doctorates, and I think if she didn’t love working so much she’d go for more.
I kind of think of her like that villain from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series, the giant brain guy.
She’s a crabby engineering professor with an abrasive attitude. Prior to becoming a university researcher, she worked in a government laboratory testing explosives and other weapons. Students definitely were better off staying on her good side like I did for the most part. She could help a kid with thermodynamics and p-chem problems, provide excellent stock market analysis and advice, and she seemed to know more about philosophy and history than anyone else I’ve ever known. Man students were too intimidated to really speak to her outside class or even in class in some cases, but not I. Truly brilliant lady!
I went to nerd school in 7th and 8th grade, so I knew no shortage of girls with an IQ in the 160+ range. In high school, thirteen girls (and no boys) tied to qualify as class valedictorian. I had dated maybe six of them.
In adult life, I once met Attorney General Janet Reno. She’s kind of scary. She was, um, with a younger, fairly attractive female companion.
My wife, despite her terrible taste in men.
Dr Clio Cresswell, author of this witty tome, whom I met at an actuarial conference. She was phenomenonally bright.
I spent most of high school with this girl a grade ahead of me. I met her in marching band. She played the xylophone. She also played other percussion, piano, and sang in the choir. She aced all the most advanced academic courses our HS had to offer and scored way up there on her SATs (high 1300s IIRC). She was into calligraphy and created the most intricate and beautiful pen and ink drawings I had ever seen. She worked two jobs when she wasn’t in school or partying with me and my friends. She was petite and just beautiful. She could do anything she set her mind to at a very high level.
She never thought she was any good and her home life was a living hell. From what I could gather later on her father had pretty much detached himself from her and her brother beat her often. She never went to college and sank into alcoholism throughout her 20s and early 30s. She sought me out a few times over the years and we got together but she was still in the muck of her drinking and was waitressing. Whatever conversations we had revolved around whatever twelve step program she was in at the time.
I visited her ten years ago and she was doing photo work for a printer, taking sign language classes and had a side gig doing calligraphy and was sober as far as I could tell. Last I heard (four years ago) she lost all of that, was drinking again, was having liver problems, and was working at a Gap. I think about her every day and wonder if she’s even alive anymore.
Oh, mack, what a sad story.
Well, my mom’s pretty dang smart, but I guess I know three women I would call the smartest. Two I went to college with; one was a theology grad student (though younger than I), and I now see articles by her fairly frequently. The other was my roommate for a short period, being the older sister of my friend/roomie. She was finishing her undergrad degree after taking 18 months off to spend in the Ukraine, and then continued on to Princeton, IIRC. Her goal in life was to save the world, and still is–I see articles by her every so often as well.
Then there was an English professor who was one of the nicest, most caring, most intelligent people I’ve ever known. The scary-smart kind who only sleeps a few hours a night–she was also a great lecturer and would help anybody out too.
Funny. I say that my wife is the smartest woman I know BECAUSE she picked me.
I used to date her. I don’t anymore. I won’t give her real name for reasons that will be come apparent during this anecdote; let’s just call her Suzanne.
Suzanne was smart. Seriously smart. Intimidate the professor smart. If we lived in a comic book universe she’d be inducted into the Legion of Super-Heroes because of her great big brain. She was as adroit at higher mathematics as she was at Elizabethan poetry; when I knew her she spoke five languages fluently and I’ve no doubt she’s added on a few since then. Why she was dating me I’ll never know, but she said she liked my short stories.
She was also a little – well, impatient. Some of our friends speculated that, since she inhabited the far, far right of the IQ bell curve, every day for her was like standing in line behind someone who can’t figure out how to use an ATM; people were constantly befuddled by things that to her seemed ridiculously easy, and that always left her pissed off.
ATMS, by the way, are the point of this story. One evening we were going to dinner, and as she had done the inviting she insisted on paying. This was around 1992 or so, before certain specific security measures had been adopted in ATMS. We stopped at an ATM so she could get some funds. Trying to put her card into the slot, she found herself unable to do so; glancing at the screen, she saw that there was a message flashing on screen. “Last transaction complete. Do you need more time for another?” the machine stupidly asked. At that time, you see, this bank’s ATMS let you do multiple transactions with only one entry of your PIN. The last person to use the machine had walked away without telling the machine that he was done.
“Oh, lookie!” she exclaimed. “Free money!”
“You’re not going to…” I began.
She proceeded to clear out the previous user’s account.
As soon as I saw which way the wind was blowing, I exited the vestibule, not wishing to be caught on video during this particular felony. At dinner, I asked her why she had stolen the poor schmuck’s money.
“It’s my stupidity tax,” Suzanne replied. “The last customer was stupid to leave the process open, and the bank is stupid not to require an ATM entry for every transaction. This will encourage at least one of the parties to wise up.”
“But you’re ON CAMERA!”
“So? I don’t bank there. I don’t even live in this city. The odds are vastly against anyone in bank security recognizing my picture, and they’re not going to beat the bushes over $500; they probably won’t publicize it at all, because that would make them look stupid, even if they believe the other guy’s claim that he didn’t withdraw the money. And I never put MY card in, so there’s nothing connecting my name to the incident. And I was wearing gloves” (it was December) “so it’s not like there are any fingerprints to lead back to me–and I 've never been fingerprinted anyway. The danger’s minimal.”
Her logic was impeccable. “But it’s WRONG!” I said.
“It’s my stupidity tax,” Suzanne said again.
Smart, but not filled with the milk of human goodness, either.
Camille Paglia, whom I met at two different speeches and book signings.
You should have called the cops on her, Skald. There are lot of people in the world for whom $500 can make the difference between paying the mortgage or not. And maybe just threatening to call the cops on her would have convinced her to put the money back. She probably would have broken up with you, but it sounds like she wasn’t a really great catch in the first place.
I’ve known a few people like that, who think that because they are smarter than most people around them, they are also better, or more entitled, or outside the law. It is infuriating.
Back on topic, the smartest woman I’ve ever known was the mother of one of my high school friends. She’s a pathologist at the local hospital, and can run circles around anybody on pretty much any topic you care to name. She’s frighteningly well-read, and in addition to her medical degree, holds undergraduate degrees in German and, I believe, political science. If I were going to choose an idol to model my life after, I’d probably pick her.
Yeah, whatever – can I have her number?
Yes, I should have. I even thought so at the time. But I was 22 years old and trying to get laid, so I didn’t.
Well, we did break up within a week. The next morning we were going to go out to breakfast; I took the second shower. While she read the paper, I went into the bathroom. Then, thinking about it, I went back to the bedroom and got my wallet. She was outraged that I didn’t trust her.
Apropos of nothing, MsWhatsit, is your screen name from A Wrinkle in Time?
This made me laugh like a little girl.
I had a professor who had her Ph.D. in mathematics (or maybe CS) from MIT when she was like 20 or 22 or so.
She worked on “doubleclick.com” when it was starting up and I think she made a bunch of money off it.
Very smart. . .at least very good at mathematics.
Two, both smart in very different ways.
Mari, she was studying for her Physics PhD at the same time as myself, and always got >90% in any test.
Viv, a polyglot and ninjutsu black belt who would be the first person I choose for support if I had to go on a dangerous mission.
Dr. Lima, a biological engineering professor at LSU. She was very smart and a very dedicated teacher. She organized projects for her students that involved the community: a butterfly garden for a local school, a new tiger habitat for the campus (I was apart of this project). She was the smartest, most confident woman I have ever met.
I often wonder how she is doing. . .
mabye my ex girlfriend.