Saturday, January 9, 2010

Brain, Brain, Go Away

I got to thinking about human intelligence when, the other day, I ate something called a "Portland Sunrise." The two are connected inasmuch as, the instant I bit into this item, my own personal intelligence became halved. That was what led to the second bite. And so on. Suffice it to say, this item did not deliver what it promised. What it promised was - I trust you are with me so far - something having to do with Portland, or sunrises. What it DELIVERED was two halves of soft, papery, flaccid bagellike substance, between them a floppy neon-yellow oval object that I guess was supposed to be an egg, but was clearly actually a key internal organ of SpongeBob SquarePants.

Naturally this was at the airport. An airport is the only place in the world where not only would you EAT such a thing; you would pay $4.79 for it, and you would be glad that you did. This is the result of something I vaguely recall from psychology class, called "cognitive dissonance," which is fancy psychology-jargon for "something I vaguely recall from psychology class." It works like this: say you're about to make a major life decision, but heading into it you feel upset, because you know you don't really like it. Yet, once you've gone ahead with it, you miraculously feel good, because, in the words of Sigmund Freud, "you start thinking you actually like nasty-ass SpongeBob entrail sandwiches." This serves to underscore the seminal psychological principle that you are, in Freud's words, "a doofus." This was what I was thinking about as I sat at the airport munching my sandwich, which was really quite good.

Generally I try not to think about human intelligence too much, because it can really bother me, especially since the day I witnessed a human being voluntarily watch an episode of The Secret Life of the American Teenager. However, it's not something I can put out of my mind entirely, especially not since my sister found the picture of the cat on the toilet. This was on Wikipedia, the site which offers, in the words of its founder, "free access to the sum of all human knowledge, including pictures of cats on toilets." This particular photograph was designed to illustrate the concept of - wait for it wait for it - intelligence.

Now don't get me wrong; I'm sure any cat who knows how to use a toilet is far above average. God knows they are more than qualified for admission to today's elite colleges. It's the intelligence of the owner I would question, inasmuch as in my world, the only recourse, after letting your cat use your toilet, is to set it on fire. (ATTENTION ANIMAL PEOPLE: I am talking about the toilet. Not the cat. I do not advocate the burning of cats. I appreciate your concern and compassion. Now please put down your rifles. Thank you.)

(Side note: My sister added that perhaps somewhere on a little-known cat Wikipedia, under "Intelligence," is a picture of a human using a toilet. This is the kind of thing she tells me with the understanding that I will not, then, reprint it publicly and reap all the credit for it. It's a trust we have.)

Adding to my grievances on the state of our species' intelligence was the youth seated next to me at the airport, who was having the following cell phone conversation. Naturally, I could only hear one side, but what I reprint is verbatim:

"Dude, it seriously sucks. Dude, no, I'm telling you. Dude, we should TOTALLY do that. Dude, we are going to have a ballin' time. Dude, are you serious? Dude, no. Dude, wait. Dude..."

I like to think this was because the person on the other end had a rare disorder in which he couldn't understand anything unless it began with the word "dude." I think this is a great variation on the English language, which would be fantastic applied elsewhere, for example in the works of Shakespeare:

Dude, O for a muse of fire, that would ascend
Dude, the brightest heaven of invention ...

It really screws up iambic pentameter, but it adds a certain oomph. I hope the Royal Shakespeare Company is listening.

But I'm not complaining. Let people talk how they want to talk; let them admit onto their toilets whatever species they will. It doesn't mean I have to listen; it doesn't mean I have to visit their homes. That's the thing about musing on human intelligence, or, indeed, much of anything. It always leads me to the same conclusion: in order to coexist peacefully, we must, one and all, at the end of the day and when the chips are down and from stem to stern (WARNING WARNING YOUR COMPUTER HAS EXCEEDED ITS PLATITUDE BANDWIDTH. RESTART IMMEDIATELY TO AVOID SYSTEM ERRORS AND INSTANT DEATH), mind our own damn business. Wouldn't the world be a better place? Not that it's any slouch the way it is. For example, that bagel was really really good.

©2010 Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

P.S. I'm now in Paris, from where I will do my best to blog more regularly, recording comical American cultural observations such as the fact that the dollars here are designated by a funny "E."

P.P.S. Write and correct me, punk. Oh, yeah. I dare you.


Eric Klein said...

It was obviously a typo. Rather than saying "Portland Sunrise" it should have read "Portland Surprise."

This must be where they use the left over fish parts to make breakfasts that they export to sell to unsuspecting travelers who are too jet lagged to be thinking straight.

BrianBridgePro said...


Neil said...

You want me to correct you? Okay! In the Cat Wikipedia, the section on intelligence would feature a diagram of a person digging in a garden.

Cheers, et bienvnue á Paris!

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