It was fun being a genius till the job died.
People would say, "There goes Ivan the genius."
I was of course, in a very small community where anybody who successfully completed Grade Eight was considered at least gifted, so it was no big deal.
The mayor, a Grade Ten dropout, stood up in council one day to declare me a town treasure. I had had a successful newspaper column for two years, in which I not only extolled my home town, I had also published my Black Icon novel in serial form and dedicated the whole thing to to the town of Newmarket. :(Bear in mind that this was a long time ago. Nowadays the suburbs are full of Islamic MD's and other optimists).
But it was fun to be a "genius", king of the Main Street assholes and probably the only guy not on welfare.
At least in the places I hung out.
Most alcoholics prefer to drink in places you could hold court, be the most upwardly mobile guy in the room, which wan't hard to do. Most of the men around me were already fried at 33, the drugs, the alcohol, already pocking their faces. Being well fed, middleclass and reasonably smart about my drinking, I still looked the picture of success well into my late thirties. You are what you eat, and filet agreed with me. And yet I drank, Lord how I drank! A tippler really, shrewdly keeping my nuttiness to myself.
But then I'd get lonesome and hit the working guy's pub.
And it was here that I'd be dubbed the town genius, somebody who not only successfully completed Grade Ten, but had actually, through a series of lucky accidents, including a stint in the Air Force, managed to get to university, after which I would try to explain the ABC's of the atomic bomb to anybody who would listen. "Hey man, what's an isotope?" "Just see it as a big cattle prod and the cow mooing for its life could be called the bomb going off." "Oh
"I know this guy out in Pefferlaw who actually made it with a cow."
To each his own.
Of course, the pub was also full of other idiot-savans besides myself. One could actually explain the Pythagorean Theory to me, and he confounded me on a way of squaring the circle using nothing but two planks.. I had to tip my hat to people from the garages and the building trades who could do astounding calculations fairly routinely. A mechanic sometimes knew a whole lot more than an MIT engineer.
But my ability was torturing words, torturing words to the point where they actually made sense. "Even a paranoid, if he talks long enough, will make sense," the profs used to tell me. I was a paranoid and I wrote a whole hell of a lot.
Just cut out the bullshit around the edges and you've got yourself a column. Paid for what you think, or appear to think. Nobody knows that out of an 800 word essay, I'd have to thrown out a like number of false starts.
It was the words, the beautiful words. When people read them, something twigged in them. I was talking about them. "Yes, that is the way I feel every day," one woman declared. "You have somehow cottoned onto the way women think." Ah, that's where I knew I had them. F*cking poet wins every time, even though only half-blind.
I used to make noises about Homer.
"You the homo genius?" the cook was asking.
Oh if I'd only been a homo.
Life would have been so much simpler.
I was starting to have groupies, some of whom I'd drink with.
Some guy from Yugoslavia comes to our table.
"Ah, Ivan. Bratchik. Life is hard, no?"
Life is hard, yes, " I agreed, going into the gloomy Slav mode.
He took a drink of his plum brandy and then blurted out:
"How much you vant for voman? Come on, I give you fifty dollars."
I tried to explain that this was a student of mine and I was only reading her short story.
Story schtory, schort schmory. You are not a bratchik," complained Hugo the Yugo.
I did explain that we had to go to a poetry reading.
Life is hard.
We quoted poetry and loved each other until the wee hours, right up until the time Hubby had to leave for work.
We waved goodbye from the picture window.
Great fun until it happened to me and I was the Dagwood Bumstead.
What goes around...
There were some female students who weren't exactly thrilled by my dating married women out of the night class that I had.
Off to the Dean.
I found myself not teaching the next semester.
Oh how much fun it was to have been a genius.
Unfortunately, not a homo genius.Randy prof, in fact
I thought I would recoup my fortunes by running for mayor.
Incumbent said I had an unfair advantage because I had completed Grade Ten and I had a newspaper column.Conflict of interest.
Lost the column
Lost the election.
Lost chainmail pants.
Lost the friggin' money.
Ah how nice it was to have been called Doctor at the college.
Nowadays, at the pub, somebody would say "asshole" and I would do a double-take.
Still got the paranoia.
But where in f*ck did the talent go?