Mulled Whine with H.G. Beattie
(Or, Cultivating Your Social Awkwardness to Create a Presumption of Intelligence is Easier than Actually Studying)
In an—unprecedented, obviously—discussion of my own personal failings, I believe myself to be dismissive of certain intelligences that are neither in my possession nor command my direct interest. I place too high a value on “traditional” types of intelligence and, as such, resort to skullduggery to emulate them myself. Forsaking makeup in order to appear more serious about your studies requires either self-confidence or a dismal financial situation. Guess which applies here.
When I spelled ‘allergic’ to my school principal as a six-year-old, they declared me ‘onto it’. I was bugged (alleged, never proven) and placated with my own reading box. The adjoining ‘what happens when the others catch up?’ mentality inspired the pig-headed brand of knee-jerk conservatism I propound to this day. In the subsequent fifteen years, the others have all learned how to read. And now they’re old enough to vote, too. I quake.
Having asserted my dominance, I did nothing but read for the next few years of my life. I don’t remember watching a lot of TV (read: didn’t see a movie that wasn’t Disney until I was nine.) The first movie I saw with real people in it was the 1999 rom-com Drive Me Crazy starring Melissa Joan Hart. Shortly afterward I ended up in A&E after trying to decide between her and Sarah Michelle Gellar as to which was my favourite actress. I don’t look back fondly on these formative years. The realisation that having three names was not, strictly speaking, just cause for a pedestal was excruciating.
At high school I studied hard to make up for having overly broad shoulders and a fear of the effects of alcohol. (In a spate of fifteen-year-old recklessness reminiscent of every BBC documentary on chavs your parents have ever gasped at, I drank half an Archers’ mixer one New Years’ Eve. ERMERGHERD WHERT ER RAW DERHG.) As a result of this prioritisation, I now have very low alcohol tolerance, woeful sexual experience, and a wide knowledge of French prepositions. This is undermined only by my narrow knowledge of French propositions, which apparently are how French people pull. Anyway, I don’t want to talk about it. At tertiary level, I have found taking five papers to be an excellent way of avoiding socializing, shunning any spare time to actually engage with agonizing mandatory papers and justifying a lower grade average.
Cleverness is not synonymous with good marks. The latter are merely a possible manifestation of the former. All they require is that you resign yourself to a deeply unsatisfying personal life. (Be realistic. You can’t have everything; it increases your chances of getting cancer.) I hardly need to feel stupid the vast majority of the time that I am not receiving academic accolades. Hence, I have formulated a Plan of Action for enhancing my appreciation of intangible intelligence. Said Plan will be denoted by the pleasingly palindromic acronym HSVVSH: Hobbies. Sedatives. Vocations. Vacations. Strenuous exercise. And hummus. Now, I know what you are thinking. “This should really be an initialism. Not an acronym. I’ll write to the editors and assert my literati credentials. She’s gonna look so lashed.” Do your worst. They’re utilitarians, and pronouncing HSVVSH like it’s spelled will cure me of my irrational fear of bees.