If I was a cat, this would be how I appear to most folks. Seriously. The thing about being an aging blonde, w/a strange sense of humour, is that no one TAKES you seriously. Of course, that was true when I was 20, 30, 40, and since, as well… Hmmm.
My own sons seem surprised when I give good advice. Friends occasionally shake their hands when I follow something pretty smart w/ some ditzy aside. But that’s the cat, folks. You take the cross-eyed and the bee w/ the lap-hugger.
So this is by way of a reminder: perhaps the person you think is a total space cadet is actually pretty bright. Even — dare I say it? — REALLY FRIKKIN’ SMART. But because s/he is younger/ older/ black/ white/ female/ male/ speaks-with-an-accent/whatever you don’t take what comes out of them seriously.
In other words, you generalise. And possibly even … stereotype.
I had a student once, a brilliant young man, who was also an athlete. I see no conflict here, but apparently his own mother did. She called him — he shared this in class, w/ no trace of irony — her dumb little jock. This from a fine writer, a nuanced critical thinker, and an all ’round smart guy. Sheesh.
Two dear friends of mine are often dismissed because they’re African American, one male, the other female. Sheesh again.
You know what you miss when you (dis)miss my friends, old & young & degreed & not & black & gay & ditzy & whatever? You miss life. You miss their incredible senses of humour, their reflections on their different lives, their wisdom and their learning.
In contrast, I know people with degrees (multiple, even) who are utter yahoos. While people without a single piece of certified paper to their names may be knock-your-socks-off bright. As in: halogen bulb bright. Like my younger son. Who is a different (and not-degreed) kind of brilliant from his multiply degreed brother. You would miss out enormously if you dismissed his intellect and wisdom. As you would if for some reason you dismissed his brother.
So seriously? Take your beginner’s heart for a walk in the fields. Open up. Meet folks on their own terms, and you may find that the scruffy guy on the bus is actually a Rhodes Scholar with a wicked sense of humour. Or that a man with serious physical handicaps is a crackerjack writer. Or that the giddy blonde next to you in line really does know more than she looks capable of. Seriously.