Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Stupidest Person in the Room

I've had this experience twice.

Once upon a time, many, many years ago we noticed that too many of our friends had birthdays in August. After a summer or two of spending every weekend at a different party and still missing many we decided to have just one big birthday party- the August Babies Birthday Bash.

At one of the first ABBBs, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting in a room as my best friends earnestly discussed the problem: If King Kong was real and he had fallen from the Empire State Building, would his skin have ruptured on impact?

In deadly seriousness and frequently resorting to calculators and paper, they discussed this- a software engineer with a second Master's in physics; a Doctor of Biochemistry who sings like an angel; a techno geek who can make a radar out of a microwave oven and collects obsolete computers; a chemist/caver/climber; a pilot/rally driver/shaman; my lovely wife who was studying Engineering Physics when I met her because regular engineering didn't have hard enough math; there were more- bikers and EMTs and LAN administrators with uncanny social skill...

It suddenly occured to me that I was the stupidest person in the room. It was a warm feeling and greatly contented. I still can't explain it, but there was no insecurity, just the sensation of honor to be welcome in company of that quality.

Three years ago I went to Montreal for the first time for a Martial Arts symposium. I wanted to meet Fabien Senna, if only to meet a French guy who teaches Chinese martial arts in Japan. We met late at night in a Crepe restaurant in Vieux Montreal, Old Town. A table full of talented martial artists. Over the course of food and wine it dawned on me that everyone at the table (except me) spoke at least three languages fluently. Everyone (except me) had a day job in highly technical fields. Once again, I was the stupidest person in the room and once again, it was a great feeling of humble contentment.

Maybe that's how my dog feels, curled up in the sun, "I'll just be me, pal. You be the smart one. You can open the cans, I'll take care of my thing."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps that why the crooks keep coming back to jail, not especially because they are the stupidest (some of these folks are highly intelligent and very cunning) but because they can abrogate all the decision-making, all the needs to act intelligently and guide their live successfully (maybe jail is success for some of them) to the system.