I have a son who is a genius. The day Chuck was born I knew it for a fact. Didn’t he say, simplex munditis at 10 months? The first phrase he ever spoke was not in mother tongue as though he sensed he was making history of sorts.
The occasion was simple though. He lay in his crib and between drinking his constitutional and wetting the bed he had freed himself from his blankets. When his mother picked him up and wanted to tuck him back he just backed off to say, ‘elegant in simplicity’. His dimpled smile was right and his baby fat made him a dumpling. Later it seemed to me he didn’t have the patience to say the old blankets chafed him and in his birthday suit he felt great and like a brick of gold. Naturally he had to express his joy at being comfortable with a quote from Horace. Horace, no less!
At the age of four Juvenal and Goethe were jockeying for a spot in his intellectual firmament. Before he hit the five he knew Nietzsche was speaking his own lingo.
While his mother and I went from speculation to handouts.
Chuck was getting ahead till he had a title that was impressive. His bonus was phenomenal that spoke volumes than speaking 10 languages like a native.
One comfort we had in the cash strapped times was that dialects of the world were not in the immediate danger of extinction. From South America to Fiji our son Chuck had collected them all just in case.
One week end he dropped in to see us. He said he liked what he saw about us. Next thing he wanted to move in with us.
Before I could ask what was the idea he hinted the company was downsizing so he was on transition.
I was incredulous. I asked, ‘Son what with all your education?’
He was over educated he said and it was working against him. He shrugged and said, ‘Never mind Pop, I will find a way to brand my over-achievement into edutainment space.’
After fixing himself a sandwich he added: ‘meanwhile garbage is piling up on my elbow’. ( Later it struck me garbage was his pile of resumes returned unread.)
He was somewhat moody that he had not the bandwidth besides his language skills.
He said, ’Employers don’t want to wrap around their heads but park their behinds on shmucks who do not know their onions.
It was then I realized Chuck was a genius to his own hurt. I ought to have known: since the time he quoted from Horace by a spark of inspiration he was heading for disaster.
I gently patted him on his back and said ‘ Courage, son. You opened your life with such a stirring phrase far remarkable than Longfellow’s Excelsior. You quoted simplex munditis, unaided. I am certain Horace was at your bedside.’
My son’s eyes sparkled and faded. With downcast eyes he muttered, ’semel insanivimus omnes’*( We all have played fool once.)
Yes Chuck was right. He had played the fool to rely on his superior intelligence; just as his mother and I had warmed in our knowledge his genius was of a superior mode. The trouble was that the world only needed one with just enough skills to prove he wasn’t a moron.