Smartie Pants WannaBe

An Essay

Smartie Pants WannaBe

I got pegged as a Smartie Pants early on.

I got glasses in the 4th grade and I was already a skinny, knock-kneed kid. Couple the “look” with – I admit it – a natural bookishness and Wallah! I’ve been that smart girl ever since.

But here’s the thing – my test scores don’t bear it out. I certainly have a stereotypical studious look, but people confuse intellectual curiosity with ability.

Here I am, out of the closet: I’m average.

I didn’t tell anyone for years. And when I did, they didn’t believe me. To this day, if I tell people I’m not so smart, they roll their eyes.

But one night, years ago, I was out with some friends – one in particular – who knew me really well. A heated conversation was underway and at some point I was prompted to accuse my friend of treating me like an intellectual snob. What followed was one of the best – or worst – comebacks of my life.

“No,” she said, “I think you’re an intellectual snob wannabe.”

Simultaneous ouch and kudos to you, my clever friend. You got me. Zing.

Everybody laughed, including me. But later, I thought about it and realized that she was right. It’s not my fault that I got labeled by my looks. But the truth is, if I’m not the Smartie Pants, then who am I? 

So, I guess it’s true: I’m a Smartie Pants Wannabe.

Once on vacation in Florida I met a pretty, smart ambidextrous girl. She wore her hair in a cropped crewcut and had on almost no makeup. Her outfit was jeans, a white t-shirt and a navy-blue jacket. All the guys at the bar gathered around as she deftly signed her name to two cocktails napkins, one with her left hand, one with her right, simultaneously. The signatures were identical. 

I’ve never forgotten that girl. 

She was smart, pretty and – I mean come on – ambidextrous. 

I act like it’s enough to be the Smartie Pants in the crowd, but everybody – including a Smartie Pants – wants to be the pretty one. And if beauty is accomplished with almost no makeup and a freakishly athletic circus talent. Wow. Just wow. 

Did I mention she was thin? 

No, of course not. 

I mean, honestly, did it need mentioning? 

Pretty, thin, smart, a circus talent. 

As far as party tricks go, I’m pretty limited. 

These days I think far less about how others perceive me, but I still have that niggling need to brand myself as something. 

I suppose I could spend some time practicing my non-dominate hand signature, but that’s probably not a good use of my time. 

That leaves thin. Thin wins. It’s always powerful to be thin. And at the end of the day, who needs brains? 

Smartie Pants wants to be thin. 


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