Friday, December 21, 2012

my little moron

I have a student who is that perfect admixture of astoundingly smart and abysmally stupid. He's a fourth-grader; let's call him Bart. (I've referred to this kid as Arrogant Pig elsewhere.) Bart is creative: he loves designing and drawing cars, loves making little comic strips, and loves writing essays and stories, even though he's an awful speller. When Bart talks, he sounds about five years older than he actually is. In other kids, this trait is charming, but with Bart, I'm often convinced that the boy is a crotchety old fart in disguise. I'm tempted to think of him as an old soul-- an impression that's reinforced by his prissy, fussy, often closed-minded nature. Today, I told him that he'd love Switzerland, where everyone is so damn orderly. The sarcasm was lost on him, which brings me to the subject of Bart's stupidity.

You see, despite his smarts, and despite the fact that he draws a purportedly humorous comic strip, Bart has no ear for humor at all, unless it's Jerry Lewis-style slapstick. Like Mr. Spock, Bart has no idea when someone is pulling his leg. As a result, he's woefully gullible: tone-deaf to the world around him, Bart will believe any shit he hears. Today, he came in and, with perfect seriousness, declared that he was very worried about tomorrow, December 21st, which is supposedly the day the world ends.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because everyone's saying it," he said.

"You believe them?" I asked.

"Well, yeah, or why would they say it?" Bart shot back. Along with being smart, Bart's a smartass who could probably stand a smack or three. Daily.

Another of the students sitting with me that session, Darrell (not his real name), took advantage of Bart's obvious cluelessness by making humorously ominous pronouncements, and then rescinding them.

"The world's gonna end tomorrow," intoned Darrell, with all the mock seriousness of someone telling a particularly horrifying campfire ghost story.

"Stop saying that!" shrilled Bart, visibly agitated.

"Nah, the world's not gonna end tomorrow," smiled Darrell.

"But just a second ago, you said it was!" moaned Bart.

"OK, stop, enough, you guys," I rumbled.

Bart's obviously got a vivid imagination, and apparently lacks the normal internal controls that allow a kid his age to tell the difference between chicanery and sincerity. In terms of emotional intelligence, Bart is way retarded. Watching him try to handle social interactions with his seatmates is simultaneously sad and funny. He's gonna get ripped off by a gold-digger wife some day. Assuming the world doesn't end.


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